Turning off the alarm, switching on the coffee maker, and scrolling through the day’s news seems like a straightforward morning routine for anyone preparing to tackle another day of work. But for anyone living with a mental illness, just getting out of bed can feel like an uphill battle.
The pandemic helped lift the stigma around mental health and we started having more conversations about the importance of community, compassion, and self-care. But nearly half of employees say they’ve still experienced a mental health risk factor at work, which begs the question: are employers doing enough to meet their employees’ needs?
Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Mental Health Week (May 1 to 7) highlights the importance of creating healthy and psychologically safe workplaces. Mental illness affects 7.5 million Canadians – about 20 per cent of the population – and costs $50 billion a year.
The Mental Health Commission of Canada says 70 per cent of Canadian employees are concerned about the psychological health and safety of their workplace, and 14 per cent don’t think theirs is healthy or safe.
Workplaces can be stressful environments, but can also play an essential part in maintaining positive mental health. We spend more of our waking hours at work than anywhere else, so addressing this is critical.
According to the World Health Organization, there are a number of potential risks to mental health in the workplace that could be connected to job duties or schedules.
These can include:
Mental health training can help managers better understand how to recognize and address mental heath issues in the workplace. This can include educating managers on signs and symptoms of stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions, as well as teaching them how to handle mental health disclosures from employees.
Everyone experiences different symptoms and signs of a mental illness, but some common signs to look out for include:
While we’re taking big steps forward to lift the stigma around mental illness, organizations are still catching up when it comes to initiatives in the workplace. A survey from the Social for Human Resource Management (SHROM) finds only 38 per cent of HR professionals believe they effectively supported employees with mental health challenges last year.
If you aren’t already taking steps to create a psychologically safe workplace, consider starting with a review of current benefits offerings. Now is a good time for HR professionals to connect with providers to understand the full scope of what’s available.
There are also several resources employers can use to improve mental health, including Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs), mental health screening programs, flexible work arrangements, wellness programs, and mental health training.
Taking initiative is a valuable investment for employers, as it can improve workplace culture, increase employee engagement and retention, and ultimately benefit the entire organization. Contact us so we can help you and your team determine how to best support your employees.