Importance of Mental Health Awareness at Workplace

Why is mental health important in the workplace? Mental health is a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal […]

Why is mental health important in the workplace?

Mental health is a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully and is able to make a contribution to her or his own community.

Mental health problems affect more people than most of us think, including employees of every age in every kind of job and industry. Chances are you work with someone with mental illness, although you may not know it.

Such a course provides basic information about mental health in the workplace, with an emphasis on mental health problems commonly found in places of work.

Mental Health Awareness

Some occupations or working circumstances may place employees at a greater danger of workplace violence, typically from strangers, patients, clients, customers, or students. Furthermore, there may be other dangers in your environment. For example, at times of the year when places are significantly busier, the risk of violence may be higher. Also, locations, where alcoholic drinks are typically served or consumed, puts workers at a significantly higher risk.

eSafetyFirst’s Mental Health Awareness program has been developed in accordance with provincial legislation as safety training for workplaces across Canada. This course consists of 3 modules and tests. Once you pass all the tests, you may print your certificate of completion (wallet & wall-sized). Training may be paused or resumed at any time, is fully narrated, and includes interactive exercises to ensure understanding of course content.

What are mental illnesses?

Mental illness is a health disorder that involves major changes in thinking, mood, and/or behaviour as well as problems functioning in work, social, or family activities.

Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of; it is a common medical condition, like heart disease or diabetes.

There are many different types of mental illness, some of which are:

  • Depression,
  • Anxiety disorders,
  • Attention-deficit,
  • Hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD),
  • Schizophrenia,
  • Substance abuse and addiction,
  • Personality disorder.

How does mental health affects the workplace?

Many people face mental illness during their peak working years. Almost 20% of the adult population suffers from mental health disorders.

Depression causes more lost workdays than physical conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

Employees who show up at work but can’t do their jobs because of mental illness also have reduced productivity. In Canada, three times more people have mental illness than diabetes.

Early detection and treatment of mental illness improves lives, lowers healthcare costs, and reduces the personal, social, and business costs of mental illness.

A good way to start addressing mental illness is to do an assessment of workplace mental health. Doing an assessment helps identify problems and solutions so the employer can make a plan to address the issues.

Employee assistance programs, or EAPs, help employees who have problems that may impact their job performance, health, or well-being. EAPs may help people with mental illnesses with assessments, counselling, support, information, and referrals to additional sources of help.

How to create a mental health strategy at workplace?

Your organization may already have a mental health and well-being strategy in place, or a number of initiatives to support your staff. Each of the following steps is based on evidence and research. This should help you to easily apply the principles of each step to your organization, no matter what stage of the process you are currently at.

1. Gain leadership support

Consider the financial, ethical, and legal imperatives that may be most relevant to your organization. Use the knowledge and understanding you have to write a business case about why it’s important for your organization to create, or build on an existing workplace mental health and well-being strategy. When establishing a governance structure to support the development of a workplace mental health strategy it’s important to have input from all levels of the organization. Establishing a strategy team with broad representation and levels of accountability across a steering committee, a working group, and identified champions will help to guide the development and implementation of your strategy. The team should establish a clear Key Performance Indicator (KPIs) to monitor, implement and measure success.

Investing in workplace mental health does not always require many resources. In fact, in the longer term, neglecting mental health takes a significant toll on the resources of organizations – financial, human and other resources.

2. Identify needs

As a starting point, you want to know how your organization officially talks about, thinks about, and acts when it comes to mental health and well-being in the workplace. Conducting a ‘situational analysis will help you get to know which policies, programs, supports, and practices exist for different groups of staff – particularly if these are different across various geographical sites.

Some organizations have easy access to a range of data, and others have separate, disconnected groups of data. Combine your sets of data, establish a baseline for improvement and compare this against any relevant external reports or research. You will need to analyze your findings in a way that highlights the key areas for improvement so you know what to measure.

3. Develop a plan

Each worksite is different so there are many approaches a company can have when it comes down to developing a mental health awareness plan. In our course, we will lay out the foundation for what you should look for and how to start developing such a plan.

4. Monitor, review and improve

Monitoring and evaluating your action plan is vital to the credibility and sustainability of your strategy and is key to establishing a cycle of continuous improvement. Strive to make the strategy and your plan for action the best it can be. Future-proof it by better tailoring it to your environment or the needs of the staff in your organization as they change and grow.

This is a learning process for the whole organization. These final steps will help you to work through setbacks, evolve your strategy and adapt to the changing needs of your organization.

Addressing mental health issues at the workplace

It can be difficult to know everything that needs to be covered in order to create a mentally healthy workplace. As you think about your approach, there are three areas you should focus on protection, promotion, and support. These three areas make up the ‘integrated approach. For the purposes of this course, the term ‘integrated approach’ defines actions that contribute to creating a mentally healthy workplace. These actions focus on protecting the mental health of staff, promoting well-being, and addressing mental health conditions, regardless of the cause.