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  • Dr Elizabeth King

Urgent Action for Better Mental Health at Work: The Time is Now

Updated: Mar 24, 2023

Ignoring the mental health of employees is no longer an option - let's build a healthier and more productive workplace together.



The global pandemic has transformed the way we work, and with it, our understanding of the importance of mental health in the workplace. Employers are beginning to recognize that a mentally healthy workforce is not just a luxury but a necessity for success. As remote work and hybrid models continue to reshape the corporate landscape, the urgency to take action and improve mental health at work has never been greater. Recent statistics further emphasize the need for immediate action:


· A 2021 report by the World Health Organization (WHO) revealed that depression and anxiety disorders cost the global economy an estimated $1 trillion in lost productivity each year [1].

· According to the American Psychological Association (APA), 89% of workers with high-stress levels report a significant impact on their mental health, while 85% say it affects their physical health [2].

· A study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that one in four adults in the U.S. experienced symptoms of a mental health disorder during the pandemic, a significant increase from pre-pandemic levels [3].

· In Australia, a survey conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) showed that 74% of Australian workers experienced at least one work-related stressor, with work pressure and lack of work-life balance being the most common factors [4].


With these alarming statistics in mind, let's delve into some of the most effective strategies that organizations can implement to support their employees' mental well-being.



1. Develop a comprehensive mental health policy


Creating a mental health policy sends a clear message that your organization is committed to supporting employee well-being. This policy should outline the company's approach to mental health, including prevention, intervention, and support. It should also provide guidelines for management and staff on addressing mental health concerns and ensuring a safe and supportive work environment.


2. Foster a supportive culture


Cultivate an open and inclusive atmosphere where employees feel comfortable discussing mental health issues without fear of stigma or discrimination. Encourage managers to lead by example, openly discussing their own mental health experiences and promoting self-care. This culture shift will help employees feel more comfortable reaching out for help when needed, ultimately leading to a more mentally resilient workforce.


3. Offer mental health training and education.


Providing mental health training to managers and employees can improve awareness, reduce stigma, and encourage open dialogue about mental health issues. Equip your team with the tools they need to identify the signs of mental health problems, support colleagues in need, and manage their own mental well-being.


4. Provide access to mental health resources.


Ensure that employees have access to a range of mental health resources, such as an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), counselling services, or mental health apps. By offering various options, you allow employees to choose the support that best meets their individual needs and preferences.


5. Encourage work-life balance.

Promote a healthy work-life balance by setting boundaries around work hours, encouraging employees to take regular breaks, and offering flexible work arrangements. This approach not only benefits employees' mental health but also enhances productivity and job satisfaction.


6. Prioritize self-care and mental health days.


Encourage employees to prioritize self-care by offering mental health days or incorporating mental health support into your existing wellness program. These initiatives demonstrate your organization's commitment to employee well-being and can help reduce burnout and stress.


  1. Adopt a holistic approach to mental health and wellness.


Taking inspiration from the Nan Tien Institute in Australia, which emphasizes the importance of a broad view of mental health strategies that encompass mind-body wellness, organizations can adopt a holistic approach to support employee well-being. By integrating mindfulness, meditation, and physical health practices into the workplace, employers can create a comprehensive wellness program that addresses both mental and physical aspects of health.




The time for urgent action on mental health at work is now. By implementing these strategies, organizations can create a supportive, inclusive, and mentally healthy work environment that benefits both employees and the bottom line. Together, let's build a future where mental health is no longer a silent struggle but a shared responsibility that we all embrace.



Sources:


[1] World Health Organization. (2021). Mental health in the workplace. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/teams/mental-health-and-substance-use/mental-health-in-the-workplace

[2] American Psychological Association. (2021). Stress in America™ 2021: Pandemic Stress One Year On. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/stress/2021/sia-pandemic-report.pdf

[3] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021). Mental Health: Household Pulse Survey. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/covid19/pulse/mental-health.htm

[4] Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2021). Work-Related Stressors. Retrieved from https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/health/mental-health/work-related-stressors



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