Mental Health Awareness in the Workplace: An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure

May is Mental Health Awareness month.  The good news is that there are many resources readily available to you as a small business owners to help with HR policies and legal issues that might come about due to improper practices.  I’m a big advocate and proponent of the quote “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” In other words prevention is the best way to address challenges.

You probably know that preventing and coping with workplace stress is one of the biggest challenges that employees and employers face today. Check out these statistics, some signs to look for, and some recommendations to consider based on the fact that over 80% of employees are unsatisfied, and dissatisfaction at work is a big stress factor.

Statistics on Mental Health in the Workplace:

Not by any means an exhaustive list, but these are some of the more prevalent statistics.

  • Over 80% of US workers admit that they are stressed on a regular basis
  • Over $300 billion of lost productivity due to stress related issues
  • The majority of workplace accidents are due in large part to stress
  • Presenteeism is on the rise (when you’re afraid to be absent, so you come into work even if you’re very sick)
  • Increased health care costs due to stress
  • Less than 50% of workers think their employers care about work/life balance

Signs of workplace stress:

As business owners and managers we are responsible for setting the tone for our company culture. Be on the lookout for the following signs that stress is on the rise in your workplace:

  1. Disengagement
  2. Missed deadlines and targets
  3. Increased absenteeism
  4. Mood swings
  5. Conflict between teammates
  6. Customer service complaints
  7. Excuses for work not completed
  8. Inability to separate work and home challenges
  9. Drug use
  10. Drinking on the job

Here are some recommendations to consider when addressing Mental Health in your workplace:

  1. Read the book The Five Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace: Empowering Organizations by Encouraging People, by Gary Chapman and Paul White. Better yet, have your employees complete the assessment so you can show appreciation for their contributions in the way/language that means the most to them.
  2. Consider doing performance evaluations twice a yearthis gives you the opportunity to review workloads and job satisfaction before it’s too late. And give performance bonuses– why wait until the end of the year? Consider semi annual or even quarterly bonuses
  3. Provide professional development opportunities: membership in professional associations; professional magazine subscriptions; reimbursement for training classes
  4. Increase opportunities to volunteer outside of the office— this is great for corporate citizenship and community involvement that can lead to recognition and support. The added benefit is that this is great very low cost marketing that you can showcase in social media.
  5. Annual retreat and team building throughout the year — make sure that your employees believe that you care about their opinions and their contribution to the organization beyond just doing work for a paycheck.

We are our brother’s keeper and awareness is the first step.

Mental illness is everyone’s business and small changes can make big impacts.

I’d love to hear from you– what have you done in your business that worked? Do you currently have Managing Mental Health Matters (MMHM) in place? I am by no means an expert in this subject and I would urge you to seek a professional opinion. My team and I are standing by to help you develop your women-owned business, how can we help you today?

Reference & Resources

Follow our Pinterest Board dedicated to Mental Health Awareness in the Workplace –> here. Check out some techniques for managing stress –> here. Check out a Leaders Guide to Managing Mental Health Matters in the Workplace –> here.

SUMMARY from Workplace Strategies for Mental Health: Human Resources concerns may include accommodating employees with mental illness, improving managers’ competency and supporting organizational approaches to workplace psychological health and safety. HR’s role may also include responding to employee situations involving psychosis, addiction, violence, bullying, harassment, suicide, discrimination and grief in the workplace.

Certified WBENC