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Why Businesses Need to Invest in Their Employees’ Mental Health

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“Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.” This quote is attributed to Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Group, and one of the most revered and iconic businessmen in the modern age. These are wise words that far too many companies overlook. After all, employees are an expendable expense, while clients bring in revenue, right? That kind of short-sighted thinking is a recipe for creating burnout, or even abuse in your workforce. The fact of the matter is that nearly one in five adults in America suffer from some sort of mental health condition or illness. That means no company is immune from the effects that poor mental health can have on individuals and organizations. It’s time for the business world to step up and take their employees’ mental health seriously. Here are some reasons why this is crucial, and some easy ways to do it.

Employees Problems Can Become the Company’s Problems

People often talk about leaving personal issues at home, and that’s a reasonable goal. Unfortunately, whether employees are enrolled in therapy programs, taking prescription medication of using cbd oil to relieve anxiety, they may still feel overwhelmed at the workplace. In some cases, the workplace may exacerbate their stress and even be the cause of their mental health issues. Whether it’s fair to the company or not, an employee suffering from even modest mental health issues won’t be giving their best performance.

Everyone has “off” days, but if this is a pattern that continues unaddressed, it will almost definitely come back to bite the business. At the very least, they’re suffering a lack of productivity from a disengaged or preoccupied staff member. Going a step further, they may begin missing work, leading to more severe productivity problems. Even worse, it’s possible that they could either withdraw from, or lash out at, other employees, creating an uncomfortable or even hostile work environment. If this is the tradeoff, can any company afford to view mental health resources and considerations as a burden?

More Resources are Available Than Ever Before

Fortunately, it is now easier than ever for people suffering from mental health issues to receive counseling, care, or treatment. For starters, much of the old stigma of participating in therapy or being on anti-anxiety medication or antidepressants has faded away in the past generation. Society now recognizes the benefits of people facing their problems, learning better coping and stress management skills, and treating chemical imbalances. 

In addition, the rise of “Employee Assistance Programs,” or EAPs have contributed to the mental health management of many workers. An EAP is essentially a third-party hotline contracted by a business. Their employees are given their contact information and allowed (hopefully even encouraged) to seek out their assistance. EAPs are usually staffed with mental health professionals, LISWs, or even psychiatrists who can talk through and address common issues. In more severe cases, they will be able to connect people with local agencies that are covered by their company’s insurance plan.

It’s important to remember that mental health issues aren’t all chronic conditions like bipolar disorder or even depression. Many people are affected by situations that change their outlook on life and ability to function temporarily. Some of the most common are breakups or divorces, but may also include financial woes, grief over the passing of a loved one, or overindulgence of food, drugs, alcohol, or other addictive and damaging behavior.

It is also worth mentioning that beyond EAPs, the online mental health treatment industry has come into its own recently. Many people are still intimidated by the thought of going into a psychiatrist or therapist’s office, but are more comfortable with a phone chat, video conference, or text thread.

Just Showing You Care Can Make a Difference

Here’s the reality: if your business offers access to an EAP or referrals to local or other online mental health treatment agencies, the bulk of your employees will never use them. Even the ones that could benefit most from their services will often choose not to take advantage of them. They will more than likely, however, appreciate that they are there.

An employee who is told from their training days that their company prioritizes the mental health of their employees will, even if it’s just in the smallest way, respect that this gesture means they work for an organization that recognizes its employees are individuals; real people with real issues that must be addressed from time to time.

 

Take care of your employees and they will take care of your business. Take mental health seriously, and back it up with resources to help.

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