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Bosses: Time to prioritize your employees’ mental health

Brianna Reinhold, LPC

Do you feel valued at work? Do your supervisors or boss value your mental health and respect your boundaries? Do you feel supported if you need a day off to take care of your mental health, or do you worry you will be in trouble or ridiculed for requesting time to take care of yourself mentally and emotionally?

Times are changing. Mental health is a buzzworthy topic, and the workplace is no exception. Since 2020, the way businesses operate has drastically changed. But have they really addressed the need for better mental health wellness and understanding within companies, or does it seem to have faded away as we return to a more “normal” day to day living?

The American Psychological Association provided results from a study last year that examined the psychological wellbeing of workers. Below are just some of the interesting results:

  • More than 9 in 10 workers said it is very (57%) or somewhat (35%) important to them to work for an organization that values their emotional and psychological wellbeing.
  • More than 9 in 10 workers said it is very (52%) or somewhat (40%) important to them to work for an organization that provides support for employee mental health.
  • Nineteen in 20 said it is very (61%) or somewhat (34%) important to them to work for an organization that respects the boundaries between work and nonwork time.

Luckily, the study revealed 77% of workers reported being very (35%) or somewhat (41%) satisfied with the support for mental health from their employers. However, there are still improvements that need to be made.

Nearly half of participants reported worrying that if they told their employer about a mental health condition, it would have a negative impact on them in the workplace. Also, 77% of the workers reported experiencing work-related stress in the last month, with an astonishing 57% indicating experiencing negative impacts due to work-related stress, which can lead to burnout.

When you continue reviewing the data, it seems that many organizations feel they are offering support to their employees when it comes to mental health. However, employees are reporting feeling unheard, undervalued and with a lack of overall resources at their disposal. Less than 45% involved in the study reported their employer offers health insurance with mental health coverage and only 15% reported their employer offering mental health days.

Why are these numbers so low? Why do we consistently focus on talking about the need for better mental health care in our society, yet do not actually implement anything to help break the stigma associated with mental health nor do we provide the resources needed for people to seek assistance?

We spend so much of our time at our job, away from our families, missing events and trying to earn enough money to make ends meet, but when it comes down to it, we are easily replaceable when we burn out. Then, often, employers leave you on your own to pick up the pieces while they hire your replacement.

As business owners, managers and supervisors, we need to push for better access and support for all our employees when it comes to mental health. We need to provide training to help identify those that need support. We need to offer a better work-life balance and not try to force people to work outside of their assigned hours. We need to incorporate the ability for people to take a day off when they are feeling overwhelmed or stressed and not have them worry more, they will be fired. We need to provide training, resources and assistance to all employees and then follow through on providing it. When we take care of our employees, they produce better work for us, are overall happier and tend to stay working for the organization longer.

Simple ideas that can easily be incorporated into the work environment can include additional breaks throughout the days, shorter work weeks, strict boundaries on work-home life balance, mental health resources easily available, training topics from local experts, self-care items such as fidget toys, journals and so much more. Ask your employees what they need to feel supported, heard and validated and then follow through on the requests. The entire demeanor of your employees, and company, can be impacted largely.

If you are a boss or manager looking to incorporate ideas into your work environment or would like a professional to come speak to your employees about ways they can better manage their mental health, please reach out to Northern Lights Therapy to discuss options. We want to work with you to help your employees as it trickles down into the community and home life as well.

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