Most Employers Are Failing To Support Employee Mental Health
The findings of a survey by independent charity Health@Work, has revealed that most employers fail to meet even the most basic of standards when it comes to supporting staff with mental health. According to John Hopkins Medicine, “an estimated 26% of Americans ages 18 and older -- about 1 in 4 adults -- suffers from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year”.
It’s well known that mental health issues are among the most common reasons for employees taking time off. Workers who must take time off work because of stress, anxiety, or a related disorder will be off the job for about 21 days (US Bureau of Labor Statistics). It costs businesses literally billions in sickness absence and reduced productivity per year. However, the findings suggest that not enough is being done by employers to improve employee well-being.
In fact, a third of businesses take no action in this area. The associated risks for employers are many. From low morale, to lack of trust between management and workers, to long-term absence and even the risk of legal action being taken. There are many reasons why businesses need to review their practices and create better, fit for purpose solutions.
“Employers and HR professionals are in a powerful position to help reduce the stigma that often accompanies mental illness,” says Kathy Martinez, assistant
secretary of labor for disability employment policy. “After arming themselves with the facts, they can use their knowledge to educate others and reach
out to those around them who may have workplace needs related to mental health impairments.”
In short, employers know that this is an issue. Too often though, they’re lacking the confidence and the practical knowledge to take positive steps towards better supporting their staff. The day-to-day management of positive initiatives and changes in workplace culture are also issues to be considered. With targets and to hit and the general running of the business to be taken care of, it’s easy to think of wellness drives as a ‘nice to have’. Ultimately, they all too often get pushed to the bottom of busy managers’ piles.
Supporting mental health at work is not just a positive for employees. The business benefits are evident too. And for many, the findings of this study will act as a wake-up call for shaking up practices.
It’s important to note too that supporting mental health at work can be easier and less resource intensive than people initially imagine. A few options that you may want to consider include providing mental health training for those with line management responsibility, or offering more flexible working provisions.
Have you considered how you can make your workplace more accommodating for those suffering from mental health issues? If you’re eager to make changes but don’t know where to start, then we can help. Get in touch today to arrange an initial consultation to discuss your options. If we can not meet all of your needs, we will be happy to get you in touch with an HR professional who can.