Mental Health in the Workplace: 10 Ways to Foster Well-being

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You and your plan members spend a lot of time together at work – naturally, job satisfaction is a key ingredient in a happy, healthy life.

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How Does Mental Health Impact On-The-Job Performance?

Mental health awareness in the workplace is nothing new. That’s probably because its impact can be detrimental to a business’ success. Mental Health America figures that disengaged employees cost businesses upwards of $500 billion each year.
Many organizations already recognize the value in supporting their workers’ mental health through their employee / lifestyle benefits. More than eight in ten employees say their employers provide at least one mental health offering, according to a report commissioned by the American Heart Association. But those same employees also said they wished their employers did more.

Risks to mental health at work

At work, risks to mental health, also called psychosocial risks, may be related to job content or work schedule, specific characteristics of the workplace or opportunities for career development among other things.
Risks to mental health at work can include:
  • under-use of skills or being under-skilled for work;
  • excessive workloads or work pace, understaffing;
  • long, unsocial or inflexible hours;
  • lack of control over job design or workload;
  • unsafe or poor physical working conditions;
  • organizational culture that enables negative behavior’s;
  • limited support from colleagues or authoritarian supervision;
  • violence, harassment or bullying;
  • discrimination and exclusion;
  • unclear job role;
  • under- or over-promotion;
  • job insecurity, inadequate pay, or poor investment in career development; and
  • conflicting home/work demands.
More than half the global workforce works in the informal economy (2), where there is no regulatory protection for health and safety. These workers often operate in unsafe working environments, work long hours, have little or no access to social or financial protections and face discrimination, all of which can undermine mental health.
Although psychosocial risks can be found in all sectors, some workers are more likely to be exposed to them than others, because of what they do or where and how they work. Health, humanitarian or emergency workers often have jobs that carry an elevated risk of exposure to adverse events, which can negatively impact mental health.
Economic recessions or humanitarian and public health emergencies elicit risks such as job loss, financial instability, reduced employment opportunities or increased unemployment.
Work can be a setting which amplifies wider issues that negatively affect mental health, including discrimination and inequality based on factors such as, race, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, social origin, migrant status, religion or age.
People with severe mental health conditions are more likely to be excluded from employment, and when in employment, they are more likely to experience inequality at work. Being out of work also poses a risk to mental health. Unemployment, job and financial insecurity, and recent job loss are risk factors for suicide attempts.
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Here are 10 easy ways to help foster mental wellness in your workplace.

1. Promote Open Conversations About Mental Health:
  • Implement regular meetings or dedicated spaces where employees can discuss mental health issues without fear of judgment.
  • Invite mental health professionals to speak and educate employees.
  • Share stories or testimonials from team members who have navigated mental health challenges, fostering a culture of openness and understanding.
2. Recognize and address the signs of burnout
Job burnout shouldn’t be taken lightly and can lead to physical health problems and depression. Employees experiencing burnout stress may struggle with:
  • Exhaustion leading to a lack of focus
  • Cynicism, irritability or detachment
  • Feelings of ineffectiveness
  • Excessive self-doubt
In addition to reducing workload, you can combat burnout by offering staff ad-hoc work flexibility, such as working from home occasionally or taking a few paid personal days.
3. Promote break time
One of the biggest secrets of productivity is the refueling principle. Whether it’s a vacation or a 10-minute break, studies show that performance increases after stepping back to recharge the brain and body.

Encourage employees to make a habit of taking a walk or getting fresh air when they’re overwhelmed. Exercise is an excellent remedy for feeling overwhelmed and suffering from stress. A change of scenery can also help produce fresh ideas and lead to efficient problem solving, further reducing stress.


4. Communicate
There’s nothing worse than being kept in the dark. Keeping employees up to date regarding changes, expectations and their own performance keeps them on track and reduces feelings of stress and anxiety.

The more you converse with your employees, the more likely they are to share concerns, ideas and thoughts, resulting in stronger working relationships and a healthier overall company culture.


5. Keep them challenged
Doing the same thing every day can hinder employee motivation and engagement. Create stretch assignments for those in need of a challenge. Along with boosting engagement, it will harness and cultivate talent through continuous learning, helping you nurture and retain strong employees.
6. Provide Access to Mental Health Resources:
  • Offer subscriptions to mental health apps or platforms as part of employee benefits.
  • Set up an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) that includes mental health counseling services.
  • Regularly distribute informational resources about mental health and available support.
7. Advocate for Work-Life Balance:
  • Implement policies that discourage after-hours work and encourage employees to disconnect.
  • Educate employees on the importance of setting boundaries between work and personal life.
  • Monitor workloads to ensure they are reasonable and do not impede on personal time.
8. Recognize and Reward Employee Efforts:
  • Implement recognition programs that celebrate both big achievements and everyday efforts.
  • Provide meaningful rewards, such as personal development opportunities, to acknowledge hard work.
  • Regularly express gratitude and appreciation in team meetings or through internal communications.
9. Integrate Wellness Programs:
  • Organize regular wellness activities, such as fitness classes, relaxation sessions, or mental health workshops.
  • Provide resources for self-guided wellness practices, like meditation guides or stress management tools.
  • Include wellness challenges or initiatives that encourage healthy habits among employees.
10. Lead by Example in Mental Health Matters:
  • Senior leaders should openly discuss their own mental health practices and encourage others to prioritize their well-being.
  • Implement ‘mental health check-ins’ in leadership meetings to emphasize its importance at all levels.
  • Create a leadership culture where managing mental health is seen as a strength, not a weakness.
Fostering mental well-being in the workplace is a journey that requires commitment from everyone, especially from the top. By implementing these strategies, businesses can create an environment where employees feel valued, supported, and empowered to take care of their mental health. Remember, a mentally healthy workforce is not just happier but also more productive and engaged. Let’s make mental health a priority in our workplaces

Key facts

  • Decent work is good for mental health.
  • Poor working environments – including discrimination and inequality, excessive workloads, low job control and job insecurity – pose a risk to mental health.
  • 15% of working-age adults were estimated to have a mental disorder in 2019.
  • Globally, an estimated 12 billion working days are lost every year to depression and anxiety at a cost of US$ 1 trillion per year in lost productivity.
  • There are effective actions to prevent mental health risks at work, protect and promote mental health at work, and support workers with mental health conditions.

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