Addressing Psychological Well being In The Workforce – Employment and HR

United States:

Mental health treatment in the workforce

May 31, 2021

Ford & Harrison LLP

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May is Mental Health Awareness Month. After fifteen months of the COVID-19 pandemic that has put unprecedented stress on Americans faced with isolation and anxiety while facing closed schools and businesses, children in school, work from home, and economic uncertainty including The Americans are struggling to recover from securing basic needs, reconciling them. A study published by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported that almost 41 percent of adults reported a mental health problem or increased substance use. Other studies recently published in 2021 reflect similar results. For employers who depend on a healthy workforce to be successful, this has a direct impact on productivity, quality of work and, in some cases, legal liability.

Even so, mental health remains heavily stigmatized and employees are often uncomfortable talking about their problems at work. However, there are things employers can do to encourage their employees to ask for help.

  • Talk to your employees. Have your managers and supervisors check out your employees and ask them how they are doing or if they need anything. Make sure they let employees know that you are there for them as an employer. Employees feel more comfortable talking to their employers when they know that mental health is not a taboo.
  • Let the staff know that it’s okay to be wrong. Many employees believe that they always have to show their best face at work. This creates the illusion that they are always happy and that their life is perfect, which prevents others from raising concerns. Tell employees that they don’t always have to be okay and encourage them to speak up about their concerns. It’s okay not to be okay
  • Make EAP available and accessible. Having an available and easily accessible employee support plan is a great way to provide mental health care to your employees. Send an email to your staff identifying your EAP provider and providing instructions on how to access it. Post these instructions on your company’s intranet. Consider offering your employees a few free sessions per year as part of their performance. Make sure employees understand that use of EAP services is generally anonymous unless otherwise advised.
  • Publish a list of resources. Every ward has mental health and substance abuse resources. Compile a list of these resources and make them available to your employees either by email or by posting them on your company’s intranet, or both.
  • Make sure your mental health is covered by your health plan. Many health insurers still do not cover mental health treatment. Make sure the health insurance you choose for your employees covers mental health care.
  • Encourage employees to take their time. Rest and relaxation increase productivity. During the COVID, many employees gave up their vacation because travel was not possible. Now encourage your employees to take time out on vacation, even if it means a stay.
  • Create opportunities for employees to socialize. Bring donuts on Fridays and encourage staff to socialize for a few minutes (with or without a mask) in the break room. Hold happy hour once a month. Sponsor a cookie contest over the holidays. Social events tend to make workforce happier, increase employee productivity, and decrease feelings of isolation and other factors that lead to mental health problems.
  • Train your employees. By educating your employees about mental health and its management, your employees will know that you are open to their concerns.
  • Make sure all staff understand how to request accommodation. Federal law, most state laws, and some local laws require an employer to provide reasonable accommodation for disabled workers. A mental illness can be classified as a disability under these laws. A “reasonable accommodation” is any adjustment that can be made to working conditions that enables an employee to perform the essential functions of his or her job, although essential functions do not need to be removed and the accommodation requested by the worker does not need to be provided while doing so is not the case Accommodation is adequate. Tell your employees how to make such a request and make sure they understand that there will be no retaliation if they need housing. In some cases, a leave of absence may even be required. Again, make sure your reps know it’s okay.

Mental illness is often referred to as a “silent” disability because in most cases it is not obvious. However, it is no less severe than any physical disability and, if left untreated, can be more harmful. One of the main causes of employer losses is mental illness. Employers therefore benefit from having a physically and mentally healthy workforce. Encouraging employees to get in touch and seek help with mental health problems or illnesses creates loyalty and an overall happier and more satisfying work environment.

The content of this article is intended to provide general guidance on the subject. A professional should be obtained about your particular circumstances.

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