Taking care of employees’ mental health makes sense from an ethical, moral, as well as economic perspective.
Even if an organization is focused mainly on profit, there is plenty of evidence that improving employees’ mental health results in decreased absenteeism and attrition and improved morale, productivity, and efficiency.
The two biggest obstacles to providing effective mental health services in an organization are:
- Lack of awareness
- Stigma and shame about psychological issues
Therefore, the employee mental health programme should provide information that is engaging and relevant to employees. Informative talks, videos, reading material, and apps are helpful in improving awareness of mental health within the organization.
In order to decrease shame and to improve accessibility, an organization should provide the services in-person as well as online, through video sessions.
Organizational culture should be such that employees do not feel any shame about seeking help for psychological or emotional difficulties.
The ideal organizational mental health programme will integrate all the evidence-based methods that are proven to improve mental health - This includes a combination of talk therapy, yoga and meditation. A team of psychologists and psychiatrists will work together to ensure the best treatment. The mental health professionals will have an understanding of organizational behavior and culture.
Technology will be leveraged to enhance employs mental health. This would include apps that track data such as sleep and activity, encourage and motivate a person to do exercise, guided yoga and meditation, and other self-help strategies.
Many people mask their symptoms when they are going through depression or anxiety or other emotional difficulties. This is true especially at the workplace where employees will not often reveal their emotions and feelings, and therefore signs of mental health issues may not be apparent.
However, some of the most common symptoms that might indicate mental health issues include:
- Increasing absenteeism and decreasing productivity, where an employee who was previously efficient and highly functioning, starts deteriorating in performance
- Increased physical illnesses. Since stress and depression often cause various physical issues such as lower back pain, headaches, migraines, digestive issues and even Increase acceptability to minor infections such as colds and respiratory infections. A person going through emotional difficulties may also be more irritable and hostile at work, withdrawn, and more cynical
At an individual level, the common signs and symptoms of depression are:
- Feeling low, sad, depressed most of the day, nearly every day for several weeks
- Decreased pleasure in doing the activities that a person previously enjoyed doing
In addition, there may be changes in appetite and sleep, decreased concentration, lower self-esteem, and confidence.
Since depression, anxiety and stress are so prevalent (in some estimates as much as 40 to 50% in organizations), this information should be shared widely with employees, so they know when to seek professional help.
Know more about employee wellness at the upcoming People Matters Total Rewards & Wellness Conclave 2019 on 16th January 2019 in New Delhi. Register here.