Mental health conditions such as depression can increase claims, propel costs and impede workplace culture. It also can affect the health, performance and quality of life of your employees. Overall, mental health is an important aspect of work and life in general, and discussions around it, particularly in the workplace, have become more prominent—and for a good reason. Mental health claims are on the rise and, based on today’s numbers, cases of mental health conditions among today’s U.S. workers are too.
The CDC offers several statistics regarding the frequency and financial burden of mental health and today’s workforce. For instance, they report that one in five U.S. adults reported mental illness in 2016. They also point out that depression alone can affect a worker’s cognitive performance by roughly 35%. Currently, depression is a top problem for HR departments. If you do the light math, you’ll see how just one mental health condition can affect your workforce and your bottom line.
But, while it’s worth noting the ways poor mental health can impede productivity and profit, we’re here to suggest ways to help keep your workplace from falling into poor mental health.
Talk about it.
While we continue to diminish the stigma of mental illness and open up more conversations about mental health, we can still make improvements—and you can help. What’s the current climate like at your company when it comes to mental health? Do you talk about it? Is it widely accepted? If not, now is a great time to begin the conversation. This is especially true if your workplace is a stressful one, as chronic stress is often linked to depression. Work with your HR department or simply take it upon yourself to start talking about stress in an effort to understand your workforce better. You may find the conversations are easier than you think.
Encourage support and treatment.
If you’re part of a large company, chances are your company has employee assistance programs (EAPs). It has policies to support or treat the personal issues surrounding employees and their immediate families that affect their work performance. Generally, an extension of your HR department, EAPs intervene to tackle issues such as substance abuse, money troubles or child care. The more robust your company’s EAP offering, the more likely your employees have mental health options to help them navigate things like stress, anxiety and burnout. Learn more about your EAPs, and communicate their importance to your employees—and if you don’t have EAPs in place, consider starting one for mental health.
Prioritize work/life balance.
No one likes receiving emails at 2 a.m. and you can bet your employees feel the same way. However, if they are burning the midnight oil, they may be lacking the work/life balance necessary to promote and maintain good mental health. Burnout is a real problem, and it can affect productivity tremendously. The good news is, there are plenty of ways to prevent it, including good, old-fashioned relaxation, which is critical to a healthy work/life balance. If your employees don’t have time to enjoy the simple things, it might be time to promote a no email after dinner policy.
Check up on your health benefits coverage.
If you’re not up-to-date on the mental health options covered by your health benefits, take time to catch up. Most health plans today offer various coverage, programs and services to help your employees maintain good mental health. From online resources to over the phone to on-site, you may be surprised at the amount of help you can get from your insurance provider. Priority Health is equipping employers with resources and plan benefits to help employees prevent or maintain mental health conditions. We also continue to offer programs and services designed to mitigate mental health issues, as part of every member’s benefits.