The importance of Mental Health at the Workplace

As the world is passing through difficult times, from the rise in unemployment levels to cope with the Covid-19 pandemic, employee stress levels are increasing. People are feeling stressed because of, the economic situation all over the world, one trying to secure his job, continuously working from home, stress of social issues, and from the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people around the world due to coronavirus pandemic (Covid-19). All these factors can make a person feel helpless, lonely, depressed, and anxious; what mental health specialists are calling it, “chronic stressors,” source of stress that is remorseless.

Feeling stressed could certainly affect any person’s mental health at the workplace. The management teams of the organizations need to put some effort to uplift employee spirit, show some compassion, listen, and communicate to them their value in the organization. Moreover, managers and the HR team can advocate their employees to help the community in some way, like becoming a member of a nonprofit organization, this can give them a sense of purpose specially in these difficult times and in doing so, it will remind employees why the work is worth doing.

Although mental health is a high priority for most HR professionals, not giving it the required attention can have a negative impact on employee engagement within the company. Unfortunately, some companies don’t seem to address the importance of mental health at all. Some find it difficult to speak about mental health and yes, it is not always an easy process, because many employees don’t feel safe and comfortable to speak openly about their mental health problems. Employers should create a culture within the company that encourages and supports employees to open up and share their mental health problems with their supervisors which could help ease the burden on the employee.

What can be done to help employees?

  1. Employers can provide employees with health insurance, counselling sessions, mental health community programs, self-management programs, health and wellness tips about the signs and symptoms of poor mental health to help employees reduce anxiety and stress and improve focus and motivation.
  2. Employers can use technology to provide online mental health courses, find counsellors who can give on-call counselling sessions, and share tips and information on mental health by emails or webinars, host seminars that address depression and stress management techniques like breathing exercises, mindfulness, and meditation.
  3. Employers can keep in touch with employees on a regular basis, this will make the employees feel supported and cared for. As well, employers might feel a shift in their employees’ attitude by staying in touch with them which can also help identify early symptoms of depression.
  4. Employers can offer emotional support to employees, especially now it is difficult for some people to cope with issues related to Covid-19 like unemployment, social distancing, and financial problems. Some employees who are more vulnerable can be more at risk now than before and therefore checking on your employees on a regular basis can prevent risks of ever-increasing metal health issues.
  5. Provide managers with training to help them recognize the signs and symptoms of stress and depression in team members and encourage them to seek help from qualified mental health professionals if needed.

During this time of physical isolation and battle against the pandemic, checking on your employees’ well being regularly will help identify symptoms of mental health at an early stage and will give the employer a better understanding and a chance to change the current situation to the better. Nowadays companies are becoming more aware and acquainted to the importance of mental health in the workplace and the impact it has on employee engagement, productivity and performance.

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Author: Lara Elkhechen
I am from a mixed background Lebanese and Armenian, currently a member of Birthright Armenia. I graduated with a BA in Business Administration emphasis in Human Resource Management. I enjoy observing others behaviors and learning what keeps people motivated, so I chose HR as my profession. I am keen on learning new HR methods and tools. Also, aiming on attaining certification in Human Resource Management in the near future.