How to support mental health in the workplace

What you can now copy from the TOP companies like PWC and AMP on how they boost their employees’ Mental Health while improving Corporate Culture, Engagement and Profitability

Most management teams these days don’t need to be convinced that taking care of their team’s mental health is a good idea. But many managers don’t know where to start to support their employees. Here we show you what some top companies are doing in this important space, so you can copy and use what you need.

  1. These companies recognise the importance of investing in their employees’ mental health.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), mental health disorders affect nearly one in four people each year. Depression, anxiety, and other psychiatric disorders are among the top causes of disability worldwide.1

Since people tend to spend most of their working life at work, it follows that mental health issues affect all areas of a person’s life, including work. WHO estimates the global cost of depression and anxiety at more than $1.2 trillion per year in lost productivity.2 Left untreated, depression and other issues can affect absenteeism, productivity, and put workers at an increased risk of suicide. In short, having a reactive (or non-existent) approach to supporting mental health at work is eating up massive amounts of profits in businesses everywhere.

Unfortunately, many people don’t get help for mental health problems. Most people won’t even tell their immediate boss that there’s a problem. Up to fifty percent of people will not disclose at work. And, even more concerning, two-thirds of people who have a mental disorder won’t seek any professional treatment. Some say that the very real fear of discrimination and stigma are two gigantic obstacles that prevent people from getting help.

Mental health has long been considered an off-limits topic in the workplace. Thankfully, smart business leaders are beginning to recognise the importance of helping their employees’ stay emotionally fit. Here are three ways that top companies put mental health and well-being first.

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  1. They Teach Employees’ How To Help Struggling Co-Workers

Most people are not trained to comfortably or effectively talk to someone about their mental health, especially in the workplace. If you don’t know what you are doing, you could make matters worse. AMP, which is a global company and also one of Australia’s largest companies, helps their employees learn how to help co-workers struggling with mental health issues. The financial giant has implemented a training program, called Mental Health Essentials, that equips team members with the skills to recognise when a co-worker is struggling and to get that person appropriate help.3 To upskill their managers and executives they’ve also run the Workplace Mental Health Masterclass for Leaders. AMP has had this Masterclass training delivered all over Australia, the UK and the USA, with great results.

  1. They Partner With Leading Mental Health Organisations And Don’t Try To Do It All Themselves

Another way that top companies help their employees is by collaborating with trusted mental health organisation’s. PWC, AMP and The Star Group partner with several well-known mental health groups, but in particular the Workplace Mental Health Institute. By working with leaders in mental health advocacy, support, and recovery, you too can learn how to proactively support your employees’ mental health, be better prepared organisationally to manage risk and safety, and be better equipped to help colleagues.3

  1. They Promote A Culture Of Openness And Trust

A high level of stigma exists surrounding mental health issues. This is an ongoing problem. More than 40 percent of U.K employers believe that hiring a person with mental illness represents a significant risk to the company, according to a 2010 survey among employers.4 Workers with mental illness are seen as unreliable and hard to get along with.

These types of beliefs in the workplace can cause employees to be reluctant to get help. Workers who call in sick because of depression or anxiety may make up other reasons for their absence. They may believe that being honest will cause their employers to pass them over for job promotions.

This culture needs to change if employers want healthier, more productive employees. One Australian company that understands the importance of fostering an open culture when it comes to mental illness is EY. Ernst & Young has collated information of other companies that are doing well in this space and they report it’s important for companies to share knowledge and information with its managers, supervisors, and employees about mental illness. The company that does well promotes an open dialogue when it comes to talking about mental illness. According to EY, openness and proactive early intervention result in decreased mental-health related claims.5

As an employer, there’s a lot that you can do to support your employees’ mental health. Try some of the things that the world’s top companies are doing to support workers’ mental health. You’ll see what a difference these changes can make to your organisation and your employees’ well-being.

Author: Peter Diaz
Peter-Diaz-AuthorPeter Diaz is the CEO of Workplace Mental Health Institute. He’s an author and accredited mental health social worker with senior management experience. Having recovered from his own experience of bipolar depression, Peter is passionate about assisting organisations to address workplace mental health issues in a compassionate yet results-focussed way. He’s also a Dad, Husband, Trekkie and Thinker.

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