As the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted people's private and professional lives, it also brought another problem to the surface: mental health crises. Yet mental health disorders are nothing new. According to WHO, 15% of working adults worldwide were dealing with mental illness in 2019. Luckily, due to the seismic shifts brought by COVID-19, today, many companies recognize the importance of supporting and enhancing mental health and well-being in the workplace. And since poor mental health harms an employee's productivity, engagement, and daily functioning, employers must develop solid mental health strategies to foster a healthy work environment for their staff.
What is a Mentally Healthy Workplace?
HBR research found that 84% of employees' mental health was harmed by at least one workplace factor. Moreover, 68% of Millennials and 81% of Gen Zers left their jobs for mental health reasons.
However, the good news is that mental health discussions at work are fast-growing today, and 49% have had a positive and supportive experience talking about mental health issues in the office. That is what companies should strive towards: a mentally healthy workplace where the staff shares the same views on the prominence of positive mental health. A workplace where everybody feels comfortable talking openly about their mental health problems without worrying about being discriminated against. One way to promote such a working environment is through mental health strategies.
Why Develop a Mental Health Strategy at Work?
A mental health strategy at work aims to create a mentally healthy workplace. The goal is to support employees' mental health and well-being through several policies and practices that foster wellness and positively impact the workplace culture. Companies that successfully support workplace mental health profit with many benefits.
According to an analysis by NSC and NORC at the University of Chicago, employers who fund mental health treatments can save up to $4 for every invested dollar. Additionally, Soma Analytics' report Mental Health and Wellbeing found that companies that invest in mental health and well-being gain three times more profit.
A report by Mind revealed that 60% of employees are more likely to recommend a company as a good workplace if it supports mental well-being. Moreover, Mental Health Foundation's research shows that supporting mental wellness at work can increase productivity by as much as 12%.
Nevertheless, developing a mental health program at work requires meticulous care and consideration. It's vital to take on a holistic approach that touches all aspects of a person's mental wellness.
Essential Components of a Successful Mental Health Strategy
Each business is different, so it's crucial to tailor the mental health strategy according to the company's needs. However, some components are essential to ensure its success.
1. Gain Endorsement from Leadership
For a strategy to have long-term results, it should garner support from leadership before rolling it out. While most C-suite executives today grasp the paramountcy of mental health initiatives, some might need convincing.
For that reason, a business case on the usefulness of a mental health strategy is a must. It should include cost savings, productivity and efficiency gains, improvement in employee experiences, and the impact on the acquisition, retention, and turnover rates.
2. Identify the Company's Needs
Before making any changes, a company should consider its existing policies and practices, how mental wellness is addressed in the workplace, and the employees' experiences around mental health.
Additionally, the organization should gather and analyze data to identify the strengths and weaknesses of its current strategy and any gaps that need improvement.
Feedback from employees and stakeholders can offer great insight into the significant problems of the current and the expectations from the new strategy.
3. Build an Action Plan
Once the company understands where it stands and needs to go regarding mental health, it's time to create an action plan. Considering all data gathered during the previous phases, the plan should outline and prioritize the necessary goals. All goals should strive towards achieving the organization's vision of a mentally healthy workplace.
To ensure that goals are met efficiently and timely, they should highlight the actions and critical considerations for each of them and the person responsible for working on the goal.
4. Monitor, Review, and Improve
It's vital that the organization constantly monitors and reviews the strategy's progress to ensure it achieves optimal results.
Collecting employee and stakeholder feedback is an excellent approach to measuring a strategy's effectiveness. It gives the company a better idea of whether the implementation is running smoothly or whether the plan needs to be tweaked and refined.
Mental health is an issue that concerns society as a whole, and employer actions are critical for improvement. Since people spend over a third of their lives at work, workplaces are responsible for building a culture of care for their employees' overall health and wellness.