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Employees Are More Likely to Use Mental Health Benefits When Colleagues Do

Mental health continues to be a growing challenge in the workplace. Additionally, the stigma that surrounds mental health at work can prevent employees from getting the necessary support.

According to the American Psychiatric Association, one in five adults will suffer from mental illness, but many of them view these conditions as personal flaws rather than medical issues.

On the other hand, others may fear that the information discussed will not be kept confidential, preventing them from fully utilizing employee mental health benefits as they deservedly should.

Are you struggling to maintain your mental health at work? Are you still reluctant to use the mental health benefits provided by your company?

Fret not, in this Pacific Prime UK article, we’ll uncover the barriers to a mentally healthy workplace, ways to approach mental health at work, and the benefits of prioritizing mental health benefits for employees.

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Barriers to Fostering a Mentally Healthy Workplace

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Mental health challenges such as anxiety and depression are on the rise in the workplace globally. In 2021, 41% of people struggled with these issues, up from just 11% in 2019. Employees are also increasingly demanding better mental health support from employers.

Our ongoing research suggests another key factor: the stigma around mental health at work prevents people from accessing the support they need. Interestingly, findings from Harvard Business Review reveal a simple solution.

Research has found that just hearing about colleagues’ mental health struggles can help normalize accessing support. This increased usage of an existing peer mental health program by up to 8%.

Additionally, a poll from National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) shows positive signs that workers and managers are becoming more open to discussing mental health topics like burnout and stress at work. However, there are still barriers to creating a truly supportive environment.

The survey, which included 2,000 employees and executives from large companies found that:

  • 74% of employees feel it’s acceptable to discuss mental health at work
  • 77% would be comfortable if colleagues did so
  • 86% feel they can be themselves at work
  • 80% are satisfied with the emotional support from managers

However, the good news stops there. Only 58% feel comfortable actually talking about their own mental health due to fears of stigma, judgment, appearing weak, and not seeing others discuss it openly.

Half of the respondents felt burned out, and over one in four had considered quitting due to the job’s impact on their mental health.

While discussions are becoming acceptable, one in four are unaware if their company offers mental health coverage. This means better communication about these benefits is needed.

There’s also a lack of training – 70% of managers haven’t received guidance on addressing employee mental health, despite 75% of workers feeling leaders are responsible for creating a safe environment.

5 Ways to Approach Mental Health at Work

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While openness is improving, significant gaps remain in providing true support, resources, leadership training, and addressing the stigma around personally discussing mental health at work.

Below are the five ways employers can approach the subject of mental health in the workplace:

Be Inclusive

Mental health support can be more challenging to access for some marginalized groups due to cultural barriers and stigmas. However, it’s important not to make broad assumptions, as views on mental health can vastly differ within different cultures and communities.

Treat each team member as a unique individual with their own perspectives and needs, have open conversations to better understand the different obstacles they may face, and how you can make support more inclusive.

Create Open Dialogues

While mental health discussions are becoming more common, it remains a very sensitive and personal topic for many. So, be aware that not everyone will feel equally comfortable being open and vulnerable.

If you are a leader, try initiating open dialogues in a respectful, non-judgmental manner that avoids singling out any individuals. Also, seek input from people in specific groups you want to support to better understand their perspectives.

Above all, listen with empathy and learn together with them on how to create a truly open environment.

Ensure Confidentiality

Encouraging more openness about mental health in the office means it’s crucial to reassure employees that any conversations will remain strictly confidential. Thus, it’s best to ensure confidentiality at the start of any group meetings discussing mental health or wellbeing.

Also, make sure one-on-one meetings take place privately. The goal is to cultivate a transparent, open culture where people feel psychologically safe while sharing personal experiences without the fear of gossip or consequences.

Provide Practical Resources

If your company offers mental health benefits for employees, make sure the providers have resources accessible to your workforce. For example, are materials available in various languages and formats for those with disabilities?

You can also clearly display information on mental health helplines, support groups, and nonprofit resources around the workplace, including private areas. It also helps compile and share reputable guidebooks, articles, and other educational content on mental health in the workplace.

Spread the Word

Make it clear to all employees that your company has no tolerance for any form of discrimination or stigma toward mental health issues. Instead of just referring to policies, have regular open discussions to emphasize how important a supportive culture is.

Another way to do this is to promote company-wide events and initiatives to bring more awareness to mental health. It’s also a good idea for leaders and managers to get access to courses on mental health awareness.

Benefits of Prioritizing Workplace Mental Health

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In today’s corporate environment, it’s undeniable that the foundation of a secure and effective workplace is a mentally healthy employee. By giving priority to workplace mental health, it fosters a safer and more productive office.

Now, let’s take a more detailed look at the benefits of prioritizing workplace mental health:

Effective Communication

Good mental health drives effective communication. Mentally healthy employees can convey ideas clearly, listen attentively, and share information properly.

Thus, effective communication is the key to a safe workplace – it ensures instructions, safety guidelines, and warnings are understood and followed correctly. On the other hand, poor communication can lead to confusion and misunderstanding.

Improved Decision Making

The ability to make good decisions is an example of good mental wellness. Mentally healthy employees can better analyze information and make well-reasoned judgments. With a clear mind, employees can assess situations, consider potential possibilities, and choose the most efficient actions.

Reduced Stress

Stress can negatively impact thinking, focus, and decision-making abilities. On the contrary, good mental health helps people manage stress effectively.

Less stressed employees can avoid feeling overwhelmed or distracted, allowing them to concentrate fully on their tasks and responsibilities. This improved attentiveness reduces the likelihood of errors, contributing to an optimal workplace environment.

Increased Productivity

Having good mental health correlates to positive productivity. Employees with strong mental health are typically more engaged, and productive, and work more effectively.

Effectively managing mental health allows employees to focus fully on tasks without being hindered by mental health issues. This leads to more thorough and careful work, reducing the risk of mistakes caused by rushing or carelessness. As a result, productivity increases.

Positive Team Dynamics

When employees have good mental health, they tend to make more positive contributions to the team environment. They cooperate better, share knowledge, and assist co-workers.

A healthy team dynamic promotes safety as members look out for each other, point out potential hazards, and work together to maintain a productive workplace.

Enhanced Resilience and Flexibility

Mentally healthy employees are more resilient and adaptable when situations change. Resilient individuals can bounce back from challenges while maintaining a focus on safety. Whereas adaptable employees can quickly adjust to new safety protocols, technologies, or working conditions.

The ability to embrace change and stay updated on evolving safety requirements can help create a workplace that is better equipped to address shifting situations and needs.

Decreased Absenteeism and Presenteeism

Mentally healthy employees can cope with stress, anxiety, and other mental health challenges better. As a result, there will be fewer instances of presenteeism – coming to work while mentally unwell – and fewer sick leaves for mental health reasons.

When an employee has good mental health, they are more likely to work effectively, thereby improving overall workplace dynamics.

Pacific Prime: The Experts of Employee Benefits

There are several ways for companies to support the mental health of their employees. In fact, providing employee benefits is one of the most effective strategies to foster a healthy work environment in any company. However, designing an employee benefits package can pose its own set of challenges.

This is when Pacific Prime UK and our team of experts step in. With over two decades of experience in providing employee benefits programs, and corporate insurance solutions to companies of all sizes, it is our aim to provide you with tailor-made solutions with expert knowledge and impartial advice.

So get in touch with us to find out more about designing a comprehensive employee benefits package with our expert advisors today!

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Content Writer at Pacific Prime UK
Veerabhatr is a content writer with over 6 years of experience with a particular penchant for storytelling and marketing, both in print and online. He now works with an experienced team of writers at Pacific Prime, aiming to shed light on the essence and benefits of insurance for companies and individuals by creating engaging, informative content across multiple platforms.

After obtaining his Bachelor’s Degree in Social Sciences, International Relations from Mahidol University International College, Veerabhatr has forged his career as a content writer in the travel, lifestyle, and real estate industries, writing in both English and Thai. He now continues to hone his skills as a writer at Pacific Prime, looking to engage and educate the audience by simplifying insurance.

Writer by day, and a DJ by night, Veerabhatr is a staunch music lover, and listens to all spectrums of genres available. He also loves to drink beer (moderately), eat all types of food, go to the beach, and learn about different cultures across the globe. He is also a die-hard fan of football and motorsports.
Veerabhatr Sriyananda