May is Mental Health Awareness Month – Why Companies Should Care About Their Employees’s Mental Health!
This month is internationally recognized as the ‘Mental Health Awareness Month‘ with the week of 11th – 17th May designated as the ‘International Mental Health Awareness Week’ by the United Nations.
We are therefore bring you a special edition on mental health in the workplace and why it is so important for employers to recognize this silent disease that is not easily seen, but clearly noticeable as part of the mental health awareness activities this month!
According to Forbes, quoting from a study from the American Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration, 1 in 5 people in the United States experienced a diagnosable mental health problem in the last year.
Just to give the readers an insight on how serious mental health problem is in the workplace in the United States alone, quoting statistics from ‘The Center for Prevention and Health Services’ as published in Forbes, read the following:
1) An estimated 217 million days of work are lost annually in the United States due to productivity decline related to mental health problem and substance abuse.
2) Mental health and substance abuse is the 5th leading cause of short term disability and 3rd leading cause of long term disability in the United States.
Poor mental health is inextricably intertwined with substance abuse and both are described as co-morbidity as people with poor mental health often have depression and anxiety. They would inevitably seek reliefs from narcotics to relieve themselves from anxieties, which in most cases will lead to addiction.
According to Forbes, both genetics and past traumatic experiences such as rape, abuses and bullying can influence an employee’s mental health. Compounded with the rising demand for productivity due to unfavorable economic conditions, work related stress could increase and most people with poor mental health would be ill-equipped to deal with it.
According to a survey by Buck Consultant at one of American leading blue chip company, Xerox, 53 % of the United States respondents working with the company rated their stress level as ‘ bove average’ with 35% saying the stress level in their organization has increased over the last 5 years.
Companies and captain of industries across the world are still unaware or naive about the mental health of their workers because it is largely a hidden problem and the employees themselves are hiding it due to stigma from their superiors and coworkers.
Many may not come forward to seek treatment unlike a physical health problem such as diabetes or heart disease where the stigma from society is less.
Forbes reported that the good news is that most mental health problems are treatable and there is hope for those who are suffering in silence.
The mental health awareness month in May is a good opportunity for employees to open up to their Human Resources Department in their organization and also to the heads of their organizations on related problems. This is also the right time for employers to consider what steps they want to take to promote mental well-being in the workplace.
Implementing resilience-building and stress awareness programs are just some of the ways companies can promote positive well-being in the workplace!