Did you know, depression can interfere with a person’s ability to complete physical job tasks about 20% of the time?
What Is Mental Health?
According to MentalHealth.org, mental health is your emotional, psychological, and social well-being. The state of your mental health affects how we think, feel, and act in the world around us.
It also helps determine how we relate to others, make our daily choices and how we handle stress. Which if you haven’t already read, check out our last article on Stress Awareness In The Workplace, which dives deeper on how stress can affect you at work.
From a study conducted by the CDC, they found that Mental health disorders, are among the most burdensome health concerns in the United States. According to their research, in 2016, 1 in 5 US adults aged 18 or older reported they were suffering from a mental illness.
To bring that in to a clearer perspective, that was about 44.7 million people in that year alone. In addition to those who claimed to be suffering, 71% of adults also reported “at least one symptom of stress, such as a headache or feeling overwhelmed or anxious”.
Why Should Your Employers Talk About It?
To put things simply, employers need to start advocating for more mental health awareness in the workplace because ignored mental health is becoming an epidemic in this country.
You as the employer, can create an environment where people can openly discuss their mental health issues and treatment. By doing so, it can and will reduce stress on those individuals. Opening the conversation will improves can improve life both inside and outside of work.
You are all together, breaking the stigma behind mental health and creating a culture of acceptance.
Another important reason employers should have a more active voice on mental health, is due to their overall performance reports. The state of an employee’s mental health can severely affect their ability to up hold the quality of their work. Studies show, depression reduces cognitive performance about 35% of the time.
It may seem like a more selfish issue to worry about, the performance rather than the individual, but at the end of the day if your people are suffering, it would make sense that their work is taking a hit as well. Which ultimately affects not only them, but your team as a whole.
Creating a company culture that allows everyone to feel included, healthy, and safe will not only benefit them, but also help you retain a great reputation among those who may inquire about your company in the future.
How You Can Start The Conversation.
Sometimes, the best way to start a conversation about mental health is to just ask how you or someone else is doing. So many people are suffering in silence, and do not know how to reach out for the help they need. By extending out your voice, and constantly checking up on those in your workplace, you are opening up the window of possibilities.
A video created by the Huffington Post UK, highlights a few key tips to keep in mind if you decide to initiate the conversation.
First Tip: Choosing a good spot for you and the individual feel comfortable in to communicate. This could be some place where the other individual may feel is safe to open up to you. (Maybe try a a local cafe or a near by park.)
Second Tip: Be open and supportive. Understand that these individuals need someone who is willing to just listen and maybe send some words of affirmation when needed. (This is not the time for judgment or unsolicited advice.)
Third Tip: Take what they say seriously. Everyone’s feeling are valid, and should be respected. Avoid using any terms of phrases that could lead the individuals to believe that you are not hearing them out. (Phrases like: “Get yourself together” or “thats just an excuse”.)
Do keep in mind, that if you decide to take this approach, it is almost always going to be a conversation that is heavy. You should take caution* on your own internal stability and maybe come to the understanding that you might not be equipped to handle it.
*If this is your cause, you can always escalate your concerns over another individual with a work professional.