Why the 21st Century Workplace Is Taking Mental Health Seriously
Education & Research With one in five people bound to suffer from a mental health condition, employers need to update their approach to mental health today if they want a profitable future.
Today, too many do not seek treatment because of stigma or a lack of understanding. One of the greatest challenges in mental health is changing this culture: from treatment-avoidance to one where people seek treatment before their mental health negatively impacts their lives.
Currently, only one in five suffering from a mental health condition seeks treatment. Those who do not get treatment suffer needlessly, and that suffering translates to decreased productivity, poor decision-making, absenteeism, higher attrition and other problems that impact the bottom line.
Where employers fit in
The way people handle mental health is changing, and businesses have both the incentive and the opportunity to lead this charge.
"With people spending most of their time at work, the workplace is a major contributor to self-worth."
With people spending most of their time at work, the workplace is a major contributor to self-worth. Work is also where people achieve financial security, so if a workplace penalizes employees for mental health difficulties, employees will hide their troubles rather than seek help. Fear of jeopardizing one’s career can lead to lack of self-care and cause serious problems for all parties.
Organizational structures can be slow to move forward, but smart leaders steward change by providing healthy work environments with responsible work-life balance initiatives and easy-to-access employee assistance programs.
Employers who want to retain quality employees address mental health in the workplace and provide health care with robust mental health plans. They train employees, especially leaders and managers, in programs that educate about recognizing the onset of mental health conditions in themselves and others.
Impacting the future
With recognition and encouragement of self-care, managers can seek treatment for themselves and encourage employees suffering from depression to get treatment, reassuring them that seeking treatment will positively impact their career.
Still, even with training, some employees don't feel comfortable going to a clinician, or they may not recognize that their problems stem from a mental health condition like depression. But there are Interactive programs companies can also provide them with to assess their mental health, reach out to a counselor for an anonymous dialogue about their concerns and the treatment options available.
Businesses could learn a lot from universities. Many college campuses have counseling centers and are implementing such outreach programs to increase engagement with students who need treatment and are reluctant to seek mental health services. And there’s evidence to show that it’s working.
Businesses will have to change if they are going to survive, because the workforce of tomorrow will expect employers to be smart about mental health.