Mental Health in the Workplace

Addressing Mental Health in the Workplace

This is a time of excitement, change and fear. We are excited about the crisp air of fall and its beautiful foliage. Also, nearing the end of the (calendar) year, organizations are evaluating business performance and planning next year’s goals. A lot of us are excited to round third base of 2020 and put it behind us.

Our human experience over the past months has been connected by allowing us to share our acquaintance with unexpected change. There have been changes  in how we enjoy our favorite sports, celebrate holidays, life events and in our workplace operational practices.

Yet, lately, the underpinning of some of our professional and personal decisions are now derived out of fear. When will we feel safe about our children returning to school or our safe return to the workplace? Flu season is upon us, how will this affect the workforce during a pandemic?  These life events affect us in many ways,  including our mental health. There are individuals who have never experienced mental health issues until now. And those who are too familiar with  trying hard to function daily. 

Leaders, there is a huge opportunity to aid workers, by intently listening and regularly communicating available resources for coping with mental illness and creating work spaces where employees feel empowered to act when things seem out of sync.

Working in an environment that is encouraging, nurturing and perceived as inclusive can have positive effects on employees’ mental health. It also increases productivity. According to the CDC, “Depression interferes with a person’s ability to complete physical job tasks about 20% of the time and reduces cognitive performance about 35% of the time…” Additionally, “Only 57% of employees who report moderate depression and 40% of those who report severe depression receive treatment to control depression symptoms.” As we create strategies around engagement and inclusion, creating expectations for regular check ins with employees to build greater rapport, understand professional challenges and observe changes in behavior and performance can provide needed support

There are many resources available to organizations. Below, Human Resource Executive provides several strategies for assisting employees suffering from mental health issues.

  • Leadership—Role model a mental-health-friendly workplace from the upper echelons.
  • Organizational/Environmental Support—Implement an accessible mental-health plan
  • Communication—Frequently share information about policies, programs, benefits, resources and training.
  • Programs and Benefits—Offer comprehensive benefits that center mental health.
  • Engagement—Invite employees at all levels to take part in decision-making about mental health in the workplace.
  • Community Partnerships—Involve community stakeholders in executing the mental-health plan.
  • Reporting Outcomes:Continuously enhance offerings to improve employee well-being.

Mental health is as important as our physical health. Ensuring your organization has clear and openly discussed mental health support strategies builds a workforce that is trusting, engaged, productive and healthier.


Takiyah Cunningham, M.S. HRD


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