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A person on a beach giving the OK symbol with the sun shining through | mental health in the workplace

Mental Health Matters – especially at work

With the recent suicides of two high profile celebrities, Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, people are finally starting to talk about mental health, including the importance of mental health matters in the workplace. HR plays a critical role in tackling the stigma surrounding mental health as well as supporting employees with existing mental health conditions.

A modern day office filled with employees working at cubicles

Mental health is a topic that remains taboo in the workplace. Yet one in six workers experience depression, anxiety or stress which is a significant portion of the workforce. Attitudes towards mental health in the workplace remain unfavorable : 56% of employers say they wouldn’t hire someone with depression, according to a 2016 mental health report.

Read on to learn more about why mental health in the workplace matters and what you can do to help your employees

Why does mental health in the workplace matter?

  • 70% of people diagnosed with depression are in the workforce.
  • Mental illness has cost the economy over $20B in lost productivity annually.
  • Better mental health support programs can save American businesses upward of $10B a year.

1.What can you do to help your employees?

Nurture an Inclusive & Supportive Culture
Nurturing a culture of support and awareness for health and wellbeing issues is the first step to fighting the negative associations of mental health problems in the workplace.

Recent studies have shown that more than a third of workers do not seek help from their bosses or colleagues. This habit of silence can arise from fear of the consequences of reaching out. The same study found that 9% of employees with mental health symptoms have suffered disciplinary actions, including dismissal.

Developing a work environment where employees feel safe to be open about their health and wellbeing – without fear of disciplinary action – is important to build trust between your business and staff. In addition to boosting morale, this also has a positive effect on productivity.

2. Management Training & Support

While 76% of managers consider their employees welfare to be part of their professional duties, only 22% have received training on this topic. They may be unsure of how to talk to employees, and what to do if an employee approaches them about mental health problems.

Basic training and development, as well as how to roll out a mental health support program should be provided to your senior management. Creating an in-house advocacy group that is passionate about health and wellbeing will give staff at all levels the opportunity to be involved with implementing initiatives and providing feedback on current support mechanisms.

3. Take a Proactive Approach

Having a company wellness program and managing it properly are two very different things, and the costs of mismanaging mental health issues can be huge. To be successful, you must ensure that your support programs are internally communicated on a regular basis, that they are easy to access and that they are running smoothly.

While health and wellness programs are great for inclusivity, it’s also important to keep sight of the individual. In addition to health and wellness programs, regular one-on-one meetings ensure that managers are providing tailored support, helping to mitigate issues proactively.

Of course, it goes without saying that your workforce would benefit greatly from a quality Employee Assistance Program. If you don’t have access to such programs in your current benefits package, the experienced team at RAI Rsources can help.


Learn more about the advantages of investing in HR consulting for your small business by reading our previous blog posts by our team of HR professionals.

Hiring the right talent, managing your current workforce and building efficient human capital processes has increasingly become more of a challenge for organizations. An HR Consultant can improve compliance, reduce overall cost and defray risk. This alone is worth calling in an expert! If you need assistance with your HR functions, the dedicated team at RAI Resources is ready to help.

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