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4 Tips for Supporting Employees With Mental Health Problems
By: Staff Sep 20, 2021 1:35:15 PM
Mental health problems are now hitting close to home for many companies, and it's becoming a big concern — mostly because employees need support and many employers aren't providing enough.
Fortunately, it's never too late to learn more about mental health and ensure employees have access to the help and support they need to recover. After all, knowledge is power, and there's no better place to start than here.
The truth is, mental health problems are more common than you think, and it's up to employers to make a difference. According to EHS Today, "More than three in four U.S. employees (76%) have dealt with issues negatively affecting their mental health."
What's more, they report a study that found that of the 42% of respondents that had a mental health disorder diagnosis, a good majority failed to seek help because of social stigma and discrimination. However, nearly all workers (96%) agreed that mental health is as important as physical health.
Helping your employees helps your business. Here's how you can lend your support.
DO YOU HAVE AN EMPLOYEE WITH A MENTAL HEALTH PROBLEM?
First and foremost, you're not alone. The 2021 State of Mental Health in America (MHA) report "confirms the trend that mental health in the U.S. continues to get worse." This means there are many more company leaders and employers like yourself experiencing employees coming forward with their struggles.
Don't worry, chances are you're prepared for this — but if not, you can read more about mental health in the workplace on our Employee Recovery blog.
With that being said, it's never a good thing that an employee is struggling with their mental health, but we should celebrate the fact that they had the courage to come forward.
Too many people are discouraged from coming forward out of shame or fear of losing their jobs. This means your company has created a supportive environment — and that's great news!
FOUR WAYS YOU CAN LEND YOUR SUPPORT
As Jorge Paulo Lemann, Co-founder of Banco Garantia, once said, "The greatest asset of a company is its people." Here are four ways you can ensure your greatest assets are supported when they need it the most.
1. CELEBRATE THEIR COURAGE
It's not easy for an employee to come forward and express that they are struggling, so commend them for it and show them your support when it happens. More often than not, people shy away from discussing their mental health issues because it's stigmatized in the workplace.
However, this does more harm than good because the same employees struggling will not have access to the help and support they need to recover. In fact, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) reports that "a significant portion of workers, more than one in three, are concerned about retaliation or being fired if they seek mental health care."
Celebrating your employee's courage for coming forward with their struggle will not only reassure them that they did the right thing but set an example for others who may be the 'one in three' concerned about the consequences of coming forward.
2. DISCUSS THEIR CURRENT SITUATION
Research done by Harvard Business Review has shown that almost 60% of employees have never spoken about their mental health to anyone at work — although 86% thought that a company's culture should support mental health. Another psychiatric study found that "about half of workers are concerned about discussing mental health issues in the workplace."
Taking the time to discuss their current situation will make all the difference in this area. For instance, now that you know an employee is struggling, it could help to identify some of the causes of their struggles — in the right way.
Are they drowning in work? Do they have emergencies taking up their time outside of their work? Has substance and/or alcohol abuse played a role? In any situation, lead with compassion and empathy during this conversation.
3. DELEGATE WORK
Sometimes a lessened workload will be instrumental in alleviating stress and allowing the employee to focus on themselves during this time. When possible, delegating work to other employees who have more bandwidth without making the other person's situation known can go a long way in supporting their mental health.
This is especially true since most employees report working too many hours or doing too much work as the main source of their mental health decline in recent years. According to Stress.org, at least 83% of US workers suffer from work-related stress, and 39% of workers said that a heavy workload was their main cause of stress. Delegating work can go a long way, and reducing that percentage in your workplace.
4. MOVE THEM TOWARDS AN EAP PROGRAM
You should have an EAP program already in place in your organization, and if not, yesterday was the time to do so. If you are proactive and have one set up, give the employee all the information they need to address their mental illness — this could be access to therapy through your EAP program, substance abuse assistance if that is compounding their mental illness or other resources they need to be their best.
Believe it or not, it's a myth that people with mental health problems never recover. In fact, Mentalhealth.gov reports that "studies show that people with mental health problems get better and many recover completely."
This has been especially true for those with strong support systems around them (this includes at their workplace!) and access to the treatment they need — i.e., EAP programs. What's more, EAP programs also work for prevention!
YOUR SUPPORT CAN MAKE ALL THE DIFFERENCE
There's nothing more challenging for an employee than to keep up with the same pace, productivity, and spirit now as they had prior to their mental health problems. Mental health determines the well-being of your employees and company.
When you take the time to care for your employees, you can rest assured your business will be taken care of too. This starts with having all the help and support your employees need when struggling with their mental health. Set aside time to discuss the right EAP options for your employees with our experts at Employee Recovery.
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