Diversity in the Workplace + Mental Health

Updated: Jul 9, 2021

Workplaces in the United States have faced many problems over the past year, and the declining mental health of their employees is a major issue at hand. Focusing on reducing stress and improving the mental health of employees has become a focus for many companies and organizations across the U.S.

How does mental health impact employees?

Poor mental health and high stress levels have been found to lead to cardiovascular conditions, hypertension, diabetes, and other physical illnesses. Alongside these physical ailments, those struggling with their mental health often experience burnout in the workplace, according to the World Health Organization. The strain of stress leads to tangible losses for companies, such as lower work performance and productivity. This crisis impacts every workplace, with studies showing that 30-50% of adults will experience mental illness during their lifetimes. A study from the World Health Report found that employees are more likely to miss work because of stress and anxiety levels than because of physical ailments.

What does this mean for companies?

As evidenced by these studies, prioritizing mental health in the workplace is crucial for employee and company success. Furthermore, ensuring that employees feel comfortable and supported in their work environment will lead to a more positive and productive culture overall.

How to support the mental health of your employees

Advocating and supporting the mental health of employees is a multi-pronged approach. It involves preventative care, treatment, a healthy company culture, and accomodation. It is important for employees and leaders to recognize that employees require balance throughout the workday, and that allowing adequate time for rest, breaks, opportunities for physical exercise and healthy meals are all involved in preventative care.

Destigmatizing mental illness and educating employees about the warning signs and treatment options for anxiety, depression, burnout, and other mental health problems, can help avoid larger problems down the road. Helping employees recognize when their mental health on the decline will allow for early intervention, and could avoid increased burnout in the future.

How to implement new policies at your organization

Although new changes can be daunting for the workplace, it is an important step towards providing for the future health of your organization. Listed below are policies that can be implemented, whether you’re just beginning this journey, or have already begun.

In a study from 2018, the CDC recommends actionable steps that can improve the mental wellbeing of employees such as:

  • Dedicating quiet spaces for breaks throughout the day

  • Opportunities for employees to voice their concerns about organizational decisions contributing to their job stress,

  • Access to alcohol and substance abuse screenings

  • Health plans with insurance benefits that include access to mental health and substance abuse treatment.

The same study also recommends prioritizing flexible work schedule policies. Allowing employees to govern their schedules as much as possible ensures that their health, and ultimately the success of the company, is well-addressed. Providing similar measures will enhance productivity and culture satisfaction in the long run. Furthermore, this change will allow your company to hire individuals with disabilities, increasing the inclusivity of your workforce.

Making lasting changes

By prioritizing the mental health of your employees, and making your workspaces as accessible as possible for all individuals, you are investing in the future of your company, and investing in the overall health of your team. Change doesn’t happen overnight, but beginning to implement some of the steps above can bring you closer to a happier and more productive environment.

This article is brought to you by iPondr@Work. Be sure to check out our website for more information on diversity in the workplace.

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