Poor mental health can affect job performance and productivity, engagement at work, daily functionality and communication. Creating a space that recognizes, acknowledges and promotes positive mental health practices in the workplace is an important way for managers to improve an organization.
A recent study by Mind Share Partners found that more than half of the 1,500 respondents felt mental health was not prioritized at their company. Even more were unable to view their company leaders as advocates.
A company that lacks mental health awareness not only produces unhappy employees, but also decreases productivity. In fact, nearly US$1 trillion is lost per year in the United States due to depression and anxiety.
If helping employees isn’t enough motivation, know for every US$1 invested in treatment for mental disorders, there was an estimated return of US$4 in enhanced health and productivity, shared a study from the World Health Organization (WHO).
How Can Managers Promote Mental Health for Employees?
To promote mental health in the workplace, there are steps companies can take to invest even more in their employees, starting with making leaders allies.
“Our stories as farmers, as agriculturalists, as humans, those messages and that
connection are the most powerful resources,” says Adrienne DeSutter, ag mental health specialist with Farm State of Mind.
Hearing personal stories from company leaders could have a major impact on how employees view mental health.
“We just need to be brave in that first moment when our brain says, ‘I can’t ask them this, or I can’t have this conversation because I don’t know enough,'” shares Shawn Brook, president of Seed World Group. “Humbleness, which of course can be very good, also gets in our way. But telling our story is the way that people can then make a connection. It’s a lot easier to fall in behind someone who’s telling their story, than to be that first person to stand up.”
The next step is to create clear workplace guidelines, provide mental health benefits and implement employee assistance programs and training.
Online Training Resources
At the end of the day, the most important thing employers can do to show their support is to listen.
“A lot of times, we want to tell people what to do. Things like ‘you need therapy,’ ‘you need to get on medication,’ or ‘you need to look on the bright side,” explains DeSutter. “One of the biggest things we can do to support people, again, is going back to listening and empathy.”
With intention, engaging employees in mental health conversations can become an integral part of an organization’s culture.