Looking for ways to improve employee mental health programs? Find out how a Mental Health at Work Index can assist in drafting company healthcare policies.
Implementing Scorecards for Mental Health in the Workplace
It probably comes as no surprise to learn that most Americans spend a significant portion of their lifetime at work. In fact, studies show that you can expect to dedicate up to a third of your life to workplace activities.
This means that workplace health promotion programs are critical to ensuring that employee well-being remains a priority for companies.
Workplace Health Promotion Programs
Workplace health is governed by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which includes mental health. Many companies facing spiralling levels of depression, stress, and anxiety following the Covid pandemic, will be eager to implement workplace wellness programs focused on employee morale, promoting health, and providing social support for those needing assistance.
The good news is that a recent collaboration between several roleplayers in the academic, corporate and non-profit sectors, which include insurer Axa SA and Bank of America Corp., has created a tool that can be used by companies to assess and focus on mental health promotion programs in the workplace.
The Mental Health at Work Index has been designed to assess how effective a company’s mental health programs are and provide possible improvements. Working with experts at Columbia University, as well as measurement company Ethisphere, non-profit organization One Mind at Work, embarked on a year-long project creating a set of standardized programs and practices focusing on workplace wellness.
Targeting the 3 Ps
Based on a framework that addresses what it calls the 3 Ps – namely, Protection, Promotion, and Provision of care – the One Mind at Work program integrates a multifaceted approach to mental health. While many programs assess workplace health promotion, few have addressed employee health holistically. Often, assessments give an overview of workplace health programs but provide little guidance on how to resolve issues.
The Mental Health at Work Index not only reviews the many factors impacting good health in a working environment but also gives advice on how to identify the root causes of problems and fix them. Companies are assisted in eliminating psychosocial hazards and developing positive employee behaviors. The organization also provides access to information, resources, and services designed to guide companies in structuring their workplace health promotion strategies in a way that includes management support and encourages program participation.
One Mind’s new tool includes a 76-question self-evaluation covering ten areas of corporate governance. These include employment practices, training and benefits, and communication. The evaluation then gives a score of 1 to 5 for each category, along with an overall rating. Reviewing this data allows companies to pinpoint areas of concern and implement strategies to manage them. When necessary, consultants can be made available to dig deeper into data and identify more complex mental health risks.
The Need for Mental Healthcare Programs
With the World Health Organization (WHO) estimating that mental health issues cost companies 12 billion work days annually, amounting to $1 trillion per year in average payouts for stress at work, workplace health programs are an essential aspect of good corporate management. Poor health in the workplace comes with multiple risk factors, most of which impact productivity. Physical issues can include chronic diseases, high blood pressure, heart disease, and musculoskeletal disorders, all of which lead to long-term health problems.
Encouraging lifestyle change to incorporate stress management, healthy diet, weight loss, and physical activity not only improve employees’ health in the workplace but also their mental health. Of course, targeting workplace stress is not simply a matter of encouraging behavior change in employees. It is often a matter of identifying key stressors that may be ingrained in corporate culture. The importance of this cannot be underestimated. It’s no secret that workplace pressure can result in depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions, which, in turn, have negative effects on individual health.
Benefits of Employee Health Programs
There’s certainly a positive return related to implementing a comprehensive approach to programs that enhance employee health both physically and mentally. Benefits of a workplace health promotion program include:
- Reduced absenteeism
- Positive behavior changes
- Healthy employees
- Better worker productivity
- Lower health care costs
Strategies to Avoid Mental Health Issues in the Workplace
Using the combined efforts of both employees and management teams, underpinned workplace wellness programs that are assessed on an ongoing basis, companies can go a long way to ensuring mental health in the workplace. By focusing on occupational safety, along with health education programs to encourage personal development, healthy behaviors and stress management, companies can focus on protecting their staff as their greatest asset.
In some instances, punitive discipline in the workplace may also be necessary to ensure employee health. While positive steps are the first port of call for mental health promotion, in instances where staff conflict is an issue, it may be necessary to implement discipline for harassment in the workplace.
5 Ways to Reduce Workplace Stress
- Encourage social activities
- Allow remote working or flexible hours
- Provide paid leave
- Reward healthy lifestyle choices
- Facilitate regular rest periods
Good Employee Morale is Good Business
Ultimately, good mental health is good for business. Companies that address the conditions related to stress will improve employee health and minimize healthcare costs while enjoying a pleasant working environment and increased productivity. Assessments such as the Mental Health at Work Index are an effective way to identify issues and draft company-specific mental health education programs. One Mind at Work’s Mental Health at Work program is scheduled for roll-out in 2023.
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The Union Workforce Initiative is for educational, training, and awareness purposes only. This is not an Employee Assistance Program. We help build awareness within the workforces of employer/employee assistance professionals, substance abuse professionals, nurses, doctors, and other educational professionals.