More and more companies are setting up employee mental health programs. Why might that be?
Quite simply, it’s because they offer many benefits to both employers and employees. However, the main benefit is that they help to prevent mental health problems before they start. And prevention of any kind of problem is always preferable to seeking a solution to it.
So a good employee mental health program helps employers to promote good mental health in general. And they also offer a way of supporting employees who are experiencing a period of mental ill health.
Does that sound like something that could benefit your organisation? Read on to find out more about the benefits of employee mental health programs.
Why is there a need for employee mental health programs?
Everybody’s life has been turned upside-down by the pandemic and the lockdowns etc. And probably everybody’s mental health has suffered in some way. But research in 2020 revealed the overall cost of mental health difficulties in England was £119 billion. That’s a new record. The researchers also expect at least half a million people to experience mental ill health this year.
We can break those figures down a bit more. The cost to UK employers was £45 billion, including £7 billion on sickness absence and £9 billion on replacing employees who left because of poor mental health.
With more home and hybrid working, it’s much harder to keep work and private life separate. So employees returning to their previous workplace can’t be expected just to leave their worries at home. The effects of illness, isolation or financial insecurity are likely to be long-lasting and to intrude on working life.
Obviously, a workplace isn’t the only solution when someone’s mental health is poor, but it shouldn’t make their condition worse. However, in 2020, 41% of employees experienced poor mental health caused by work, and 51% of that was due to pressure at work.
So how can a mental health program benefit employees?
The mental health charity MIND is warning of an approaching ‘second pandemic’ of mental ill health. And employees who are experiencing stress, anxiety or depression will not be able to work productively. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
The first benefit of a mental health program is that it creates a workplace culture tolerant of mental illness. If an organisation establishes an employee mental health program, it shows an attitude of mind; mental health is on the agenda, and this organisation takes its employees’ mental health seriously. This can only benefit everyone, including the leadership – because mental illness doesn’t discriminate.
We know that there’s still a lot of stigma around mental illness, but did you know that 30% of employees haven’t told anyone about their mental health problems? And this inability to talk is more common among men (35%) than women (26%). So, making your workplace somewhere safe for employees to talk about their mental health is essential.
But what’s the greatest benefit of employee mental health programs?
This is the change in culture which takes place. In a culture of care, everyone in the company will feel better, not just those with a mental health issue. And when a company embraces the diversity of its workforce, it is more likely to succeed in today’s economy.
Once employees know that an episode of poor mental health will be accepted, they will be less likely to be absent. And we know that absenteeism has a serious impact on company finances. Equally, presenteeism will reduce because employees don’t need to force themselves into work when they’re under par. So productivity is not negatively affected.
In addition, if working relationships are positive, people will feel comfortable in their workplace. So work-related stress and burnout will also reduce which will improve retention and save on recruitment costs.
Surely everyone wants to work in an atmosphere where they feel accepted and respected; and where their unique skills and talents are developed and encouraged. And isn’t it just ‘right’ to treat mental health and mental illness with respect?
What needs to be included in an employee mental health program?
An employee mental health program can offer many different benefits to employees. Some companies might prefer to build their own and include things such as:
- workshops and meetings to educate all employees about mental ill health;
- a survey or questionnaire to gather information about employee mental health and wellbeing;
- subsidised membership to health or sports clubs;
- special training for managers (who are in a uniquely influential position regarding employee mental health);
- training some employees as mental health ‘champions’ or ‘first aiders’; or
- access to mental health professionals.
Other companies may choose to invest in an online employee assistance programme which is tailored to the needs of their organisation and employees.
SupportRoom is just such a program, and you can read all about how we can help your company below.
How can SupportRoom help my company?
Here, at SupportRoom, we offer employee therapy for small to medium businesses. Our platform allows employees to receive therapy on-demand from a dedicated, qualified therapist.
Our SME Employee Support platform is designed to give insightful data that allows your employees to track their progress and monitor their own mental and physical health.
Book a free demo here.