We spend a large part of the day at work, and when it affects our well-being, all aspects of our lives are bound to suffer. Unfortunately, anxiety and stress in the workplace are so widespread that 47% of employees consider it normal. What’s more, reports about mental well-being at work are all too often more concerned about the costs of it and how it affects the economy.
However, taking steps to support your team’s mental health can transform your workspace into a pleasant and positive environment. So what are some of the most common mental issues in the workplace and how can you help employees overcome them?
Mental Health Issues in the Workplace
It’s important to note that mental health issues can stem from the workplace, but they can also be unrelated to the employees’ jobs. However, no matter what the case is, these issues will affect the employee’s job performance, engagement, and communication at work. In other words, they need to be addressed.
Common Mental Health Problems at Work
Some of the most common issues employees experience at work are stress and anxiety. Anxiety is the most common problem that affects 18% of the population in the US. A great number of things can cause it, including a heavy workload, working long hours, poor workplace communication and support, a lack of directions, and many more.
Unfortunately, people often “muscle through” their symptoms, never addressing their issues, which almost inevitably leads to burnout, nervous breakdown, or panic attacks. Just like with any physical ailments, if you ignore them, they tend to get worse.
Another common issue employees often face in the dark is depression. Depression is extremely common, but it’s often difficult to notice. High-functioning depression can make people appear like their usual selves, while they are actually struggling. Other common mental issues your employees might be suffering from include substance abuse, PTSD, OCD, and others.
How Your Team’s Mental Health Problems Affect the Workplace
Your team’s mental health is important, period. Not only is it human to worry about your fellow teammates’ well-being, but it also affects your workplace atmosphere and business directly. When people struggle, their productivity levels drop, they’re much more prone to mistakes, and they take more sick days.
Unaddressed mental health problems can also lead to resentment and poor communication and can significantly heighten your employee turnover rates.
That’s why it’s important to develop a strong support system and take as many precautionary steps as possible to help your struggling employees.
Challenges and Solutions to Implementing a Support System
Now, you may believe that you need to make a lot of changes and don’t have enough resources to invest in a mental health support system. However, it doesn’t have to be that difficult, and it could help your business thrive. Here’s what you can do.
Mental health problems often go unnoticed in the workplace because people don’t know what symptoms to look out for. That’s why it’s important to spread the word and offer educational resources, such as brochures, videos, and other materials. Many health organizations offer these for free, so if money’s a problem, you don’t really need to invest any.
Having the managerial team keep an eye on individual employees’ well-being and offer support is a great way to prevent major issues. However, the problem is not everyone knows how to do that. That’s why it’s wise to provide training so that they all learn how to recognize the symptoms and react accordingly.
Developing a welcoming and supportive company culture takes time, but it’s worth it. If you don’t know where to start and how to achieve that, you can begin by introducing the buddy system. This system involves employees working in pairs, operating as a single unit, and helping each other out.
This method helps new hires acclimate to their new work environment and warm up to their colleagues. It nurtures an atmosphere where people build each other up instead of seeing each other as competition.
You may also organize mental health workshops to help people learn useful techniques for managing stress and other issues.
It’s a great idea to encourage people who might need professional help to get into therapy. However, they might be reluctant to do it for financial or other reasons. But if you provide subsidized (or free, if possible) counseling or coaching, that might be enough to tip the scale.
Moreover, if you offer insurance that covers the costs of therapy and depression medication, people will be much more likely to try it. After all, 80% of those suffering from depression show significant improvements a few weeks after starting treatment.
Finally, flexibility in the workplace is the best way to promote a better work-life balance. If possible, try to implement less rigid schedules and offer the opportunity to work from home. If you’re worried this will affect your employees’ productivity, you shouldn’t be. People with flexible jobs are actually much more productive because they have a better work-life balance.
If you fear communication will be a problem for remote workers, it doesn’t have to be with apps such as Slack or Zoom. They are a text or call away at all times. Also, instead of focusing on hours of work, focus on productivity, i.e., tell them what needs to be done and trust them to organize their time on their own, instead of micromanaging.
If You Want to Implement a Support System in Your Organization
The equation is simple — when people are happier at work, they are more productive. So everyone thrives in a work environment that’s mindful of mental health.
As you can see, implementing a mental health support system doesn’t have to be expensive or difficult. All you need is a will. No matter what challenges you may face along the way, there are ways to deal with them. After all, there are numerous examples of organizations that have done it successfully, so you can find inspiration in their stories too.