Mental Health Awareness Month: Understanding the Employer’s Role in Employee Mental Health

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, a time to raise awareness about mental health and promote the importance of our mental well-being. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to light the need for increased attention to mental health, especially in the workplace. Many employees are struggling with anxiety, depression and stress.

Mental Health in the Workplace

Workplace stress and poor mental health can negatively affect workers job performance and productivity as well as their engagement with others at work. It can also influence worker physical health, given that stress can be a risk factor for various cardiovascular diseases. More than 80% of US workers have reported experiencing workplace stress, and more than 50% believe their stress related to work impacts their life at home.

Workplace stressors may include:

These stressors can take a toll on a person’s sense of well-being and negatively impact their mental health. For some, these stressors can contribute to serious problems, such as the development or exacerbation of mental health challenges, including anxiety disorders, depression, or substance use disorders.

The Role of Employers

While mental health issues can be complicated, employers can be part of the solution. More than 85% of employees surveyed in 2021 by the American Psychological Association reported that actions from their employer would help their mental health. An employer’s goal should be to find ways to alleviate or remove stressors in the workplace to the greatest extent possible, build coping and resiliency supports, and ensure that people who need help know where to turn.

Reducing workplace stress benefits everyone across an organization. It can improve morale and lead to increased productivity and better focus, fewer workplace injuries, fewer sick days and improved physical health (e.g., lower blood pressure, stronger immune system). All these factors can also lead to reduced turnover among an employer’s workforce.

The Occupational Safety and Health Hazard Association (OSHA) recommends the following guidance and tips for employers:

Reach Out to an Advisor

Want to learn more about how you can foster a supportive workplace for your employees? Talk to a SISCO risk consultant today for more information on trainings and strategies.