5 reasons mental health in the workplace is a top priority

Addressing mental health issues is crucial to employee and company performance.

By Kellie O’Keefe      
A multi-ethnic group of young business men and women in semi-casual office clothes are sitting on the floor and meditating to relax in an indoor, sunlit office.

Addressing mental health issues is crucial to employee and company performance.

 

Over 80% of large U.S. companies offer a workplace wellness program. These programs have proven successful in identifying and lowering employee health risk factors, reducing healthcare costs, and increasing employee engagement and productivity. However, not all wellness programs are created equally.

There are many intertwining components to overall health and wellness, yet one crucial element that many corporate wellness programs overlook is mental health.

Mental and emotional health can be more complex than physical health to address in the workplace. Offering a wellness program that connects all aspects of health, including mental and emotional, ensures that employees receive the tools and resources needed to achieve optimal well-being and workplace satisfaction.

[RELATED: Read more data-driven evidence for focusing on mental health in the workplace. ]

Here are 5 reasons you should focus on mental health in the workplace:

1. Addressing mental health in the workplace can help shatter the stigma

A report by Capita found that 24% of employees have taken time off work due to stress or mental illness. However, only 37% of those employees said they would feel comfortable telling coworkers or management they took that time off for mental health issues. To dissolve this fear of judgment, businesses must show their employees that they value their mental health by beginning that open discussion in the workplace.

Employers may do this by implementing a wellness program that emphasizes the importance of mental health, bringing it out of the shadows and into everyday conversation.

Introducing mental health and wellbeing in the workplace can start as simple as introducing and providing education on the 8 Pillars of Mental Wellbeing or implementing a Stress Management component into a pre-existing wellness program.

2. There is a correlation between mental health and physical health

Stress is one of the most common and universal factors to exacerbate mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety. That’s why wellness programs with a practical mental health component often focus on stress management. In fact, improving employees’ ability to cope with stressors is critical to their success.

Poor mental health has been shown to lead to direct physical consequences that negatively impact employees’ job performance, such as:

  • low energy
  • muscle pain
  • digestive problems
  • frequent colds and infections

Not only can these issues increase absenteeism and lost productivity for businesses, but they can lead to severe and long-term health complications if left untreated.

3. Improved employee mental health can lower healthcare costs

One of the most tangible benefits of addressing mental health issues in the workplace is reduced costs associated with healthcare and lost productivity.

According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control, the cost for people with mental health disorders and other physical conditions are two to three times higher than for those without co-occurring illnesses. Additionally, the World Health Organization estimates that for every $1 put into treatment for common mental disorders, there is a return on investment of $4 in improved health and productivity.

4. Good mental health increases employee performance

Depression alone has been statistically shown to interfere with a person’s ability to complete physical job tasks and reduce cognitive performance.

Businesses that invest in employee mental and emotional health are likely to see an increase in productivity and quality of work. Employees can focus better on their jobs and lives when they are not struggling with anxiety, stress, depression or other mental health issues.

5. Investment in your employees boosts retention and talent acquisition

Taking the time and energy to focus on mental health shows a deeper understanding of the many facets of your employees’ overall well-being. This leads employees to feel valued, cared for and appreciated. In turn, employee morale and engagement increase, as well as retention. Showcasing a well-rounded employee wellbeing benefit package also can aid in securing talent.

 

Opening the floor to discuss mental health promotes a culture of well-being in the workplace — leading to lower insurance costs, higher productivity, improved retention, and a more positive work environment.

Simply put: Happy and healthy employees are the secret to a successful business.

 

Kellie O’Keefe is a creative marketing specialist at Wellworks for You.