Mental well-being is a term used to describe a state of mind that is free from psychological distress and enables an individual to function at their best. It is often viewed as a personal responsibility, with people feeling like they should be able to fix any problems themselves. However, mental health is not just an individual responsibility – it is also the responsibility of employers and organisations.
Studies show that mental health issues are increasingly prevalent and prominent in the workplace today. In the United States, for example, one in five workers suffer from a diagnosable mental health disorder. And in the United Kingdom, it is estimated that mentally unhealthy employees cost businesses up to £45 billion each year in lost productivity.
A recent survey by Accenture of 3,884 UK workers found that by the time they are 30 years old, 95% of them personally had encountered mental health challenges. Workers aged 18 to 30 experience almost twice as much pressure in their lives as their more senior peers, but are less likely to let their employers know about it.
And in Asia, the situation is even more dire. A study conducted by the International Labour Organisation of workers in 10 Asian countries found that nearly half of respondents were experiencing symptoms of depression, with one-third reporting suicidal thoughts.
Factors that can contribute to poor mental well-being in the workplace include job insecurity, long hours, low pay, unrealistic deadlines, and a lack of support from managers and colleagues. In recent years, the rise of the gig economy and the proliferation of technology have also led to increased levels of work-related stress. In addition, the current pandemic has also made matters worse. Many employees are now working from home in isolation, which can be detrimental to mental health. As businesses start to reopen, there is a heightened anxiety about returning to the workplace and possible exposure to the virus. These factors can have a significant negative impact on their job performance.
Studies have shown that employees who are struggling with their mental health are more likely to make mistakes, take more sick days, and be less productive overall. Additionally, mental health issues can also lead to conflict with co-workers and may even result in job loss.
If organisations do not take steps to support employee well-being, the problem of work-related stress might have a negative impact on employee productivity and retention. Therefore, it is essential for organisations to ensure that they are doing everything they can to promote employees’ mental well-being.
There are a few things that leaders can do to support their employees with mental health issues:
1. Make sure that employees feel comfortable talking about mental health issues, and create an open and supportive environment where these conversations can happen.
2. Be aware of the signs that an employee may be struggling, and offer help and support as needed.
3. Encourage employees to take breaks, and make sure that they are not working excessive hours.
4. Promote a healthy work/life harmony, and make sure that employees have time for activities outside of work.
5. Provide access to mental health resources, such as counselling or employee assistance programs.
6. Encourage employees to take care of their physical health, as this can impact mental health.
7. Address any workplace stressors that may be contributing to mental health issues.
8. Create a workplace culture that is supportive of mental health.
9. Educate employees about mental health, so that they are better able to understand and support each other.
Mental well-being is a critical precursor of employee productivity and overall happiness in the workplace. Employers that make an effort to create a positive work environment that supports mental health will see happier and more productive employees who are less likely to leave their job, which benefits the organisation as a whole.