May is Mental Health Awareness Month (aka Mental Health Month), and it’s a good time to examine how mental health issues impact the workplace.
Things like depression, anxiety, and undiagnosed mental disorders are becoming more common among young people, even as substance use and anti-social behaviors continue to decline. But mental health is something we all may struggle with. The World Health Organization predicts that one in four people in the world will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives.
No matter the appearance we put on at work, everyone is potentially suffering through something, whether it’s bereavement, stress, depression, or a neurological condition. We focus on mental health in May to bring these conditions out of the shadows and treat them like the normal part of life they are.
Here are 3 ways you can focus your workplace on mental health:
- Dispel common fears – Mental health struggles can cause all kinds of anxieties about job security and social stigmas, discouraging employees from bringing it up. Clearly communicate that mental health is just as important as physical health.
- Check in regularly – Make mental health a regular topic on your check-ins with employees by asking simple questions like “How are you feeling?” and “Everything okay with you?” Simple, empathetic invitations can create meaningful dialogues.
- Encourage open atmosphere – Employers don’t have to be part-time therapists, but they do have to provide an environment that is safe and open to mental health issues, and have them be treated with respect and understanding.
The conventional wisdom is that poor mental health is liable to cost more sick days, but research shows the opposite is more likely to happen. Employees suffering mental troubles are typically hard workers. Many who struggle with mental health often find it difficult to ask for help or take personal time, which is why employers should keep a close eye on it.
Visit Mental Health America’s official site for more information on Mental Health Month, where you can download their toolkit and get more ideas.