Recent studies have shown the importance of paying attention to a wide range of mental health in the workplace. With 8 out of 10 employees suggesting that personal and work stress affects their work, it’s time to take a closer look according to experts.
What makes the difference?
According to researchers from Morneau Shappell, “one of the factors that makes mental health such a complex issue is that mental illnesses are a diverse group of conditions. Even a single diagnosis such as depression has many different causes, can present itself in different ways for different individuals, and different individuals respond differently to different treatments.” Risk factors cited include genetics, exposure to toxins on an ongoing basis, substance abuse, traumatic or prolonged stress, as well as a lack of social support and coping skills.
While many people who have a stress disorder do ultimately develop a more serious mental health issue, it’s important to recognize the difference between stress and mental illness. Stress is related to a person’s perception and created by a trigger. It can be reduced when the trigger is removed, or a coping mechanism is found. Mental illness on the other hand, is an illness that has many diverse physical, emotional, cognitive and social components. Typically, medication is required in addition to counselling.
What can be done in your workplace according to the experts from Morneau Shappell.
- Recognize and manage workplace risk.
Traumatic, prolonged and repeated extreme stress is a risk factor for mental illness, may impact individuals in varying degrees, and should be addressed as a risk.
- Invest in and develop mitigation for employees.
Some of the impact relates to biological factors. However, the workplace can support protective factors with coping skills/resilience building, social support, and fact-based anti-stigma communications.
- Consider implementing current and emerging strategies to support treatment.
The evolution of care for mental illness will impact both disability management and benefit plans.
There is growing awareness on the part of employers regarding the need to take action in order to reduce the impact of mental health issues on employee engagement, productivity and absenteeism. The insights revealed by our latest survey show how substantial the current problems can be and how rewarding it can be to implement appropriate action plans.