How to Address Workplace Mental Health Issues

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COVID-19 has taken a physical, mental, and emotional toll on millions of employees in the US. It disrupted their daily social rhythms, disconnecting them from friends and family and causing immeasurable stress. The risk of unemployment soared and workloads increased. Companies should help employees cope with this unprecedented crisis since few people can overcome the new challenges on their own

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Effects of COVID-19

The pandemic had triggered a spectrum of mixed consequences. Higher levels of depression, anxiety, and sleeping disorders are prompting workers to buy Delta 8 edibles to relax. Americans are also overeating and drinking more alcohol. Around 30% of the population gained weight since the onset of the pandemic.

These effects are particularly noticeable in healthcare personnel, from nurses to doctors. Frontline workers had to deal with aggressive customer interactions.

5 Strategies for Employers

The COVID-19 pandemic has fueled an unprecedented crisis of mental health in the workplace. To help staff navigate these issues, companies should develop and implement detailed plans. Here are five suggested strategies.

1. Creating Clear Policies

Increased levels of stress due to the pandemic cause personal crises. These result in disruptive (often unintentionally) behavior in employees. Managers need to adopt a clear approach to such situations.

Psychological distress can manifest itself in different ways. Some employees start throwing objects in frustration, others may yell at coworkers or engage in violence. Some people isolate themselves and avoid any interaction in the workplace. In extreme cases, employees develop suicidal thoughts and express them publicly — for example, on social media.

The first step to addressing these issues is working out a clear policy. It must describe what types of behavior must be interpreted as an ability to perform one’s job. This document can also include three crucial sections:

      a process of temporary release,

      assessment and treatment requirements, and

      conditions for returning to work.

For instance, if someone expresses violent or suicidal thoughts, the company may have to intervene immediately and then refer the employee to an occupational health provider. The provider will be responsible for ensuring that the person completes the required treatment.

Some of your staff members may be in grief after losing a loved one. Some may be experiencing a flare-up of a mental health disorder. Both groups can benefit from a temporary job or assignment or paid family medical leave.

In these uncertain times, policies and procedures are vital. Managers need clear instructions on how to respond to different behavioral issues. When a problem arises, they must understand what measures and solutions are in their arsenal, and which are applicable based on severity.

Note that the Americans with Disabilities Act requires that businesses make accommodations for mental health disorders. The only exception is when it causes undue hardship for the employer.

2. Building Partnerships with Mental Health Institutions

Not every employee with mental health issues has visible symptoms. For some of them, personal disruptions are bleeding into professional life. For example, an employee may repeatedly complain to co-workers about their marital conflicts during quarantine, which undermines team productivity. What should their manager do?

A reasonable solution is referring that person to some supportive resource or mental health professional. This is when established partnerships with local providers come in handy.

An employee assistance program (EAP) is accessible to over 50% of civilian workers. It provides confidential counseling free of charge. Some corporations have their own programs in-house with direct access to mental health professionals. However, even a small business can set up such partnerships. Give your staff access to support on an ad hoc basis.

3. Implementing Wellness Programs for Illness Prevention

Employers should also be proactive to prevent mental health problems. Through a wellness program, they can teach staff new skills that will act as a buffer from external stressors. These initiatives are focused on fostering resiliency, positive emotions, and stress management. They also contribute to productivity.

Unfortunately, most employees are reluctant to participate in such programs. Companies can address this issue by giving workers more say in decisions about which programs to choose. Support from managers will also improve participation. This normally requires some initial managerial training.

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4. Changing Negative Perception of Mental Health Problems

People afflicted by mental illness or any mental health issues typically face stigma in the workplace and beyond. This hinders treatment as they try to avoid it. Fear of losing their job or being viewed in a certain way prevents them from seeking help.

At the organizational level, employers can address stigma by increasing mental health literacy throughout the organization. They should perceive and discuss these issues the same way they deal with physical ones.

Another solution involves programs encouraging workers to hear people with mental difficulties. These speakers describe their daily struggles and how they overcame them. According to research, such social contracts lower stigma, at least in the short term.

Finally, companies may assign mental health and wellness advocates within the staff who will help coworkers in need. This strategy works as some employees do not feel comfortable reaching out to mental health providers. Talking to a coworker is easier for them. As a result, internal advocates may bridge the gap between staff and mental health care.

5. Fostering Social Interaction And Support

Finally, multiple studies have shown that social support alleviates the impact of different stressors. In close-knit teams, members are better mentally prepared to deal with challenges and crises.

Social interactions and connections inspire the so-called “collective efficacy”. The term describes the shared belief in a team’s ability to work cohesively and overcome challenges in pursuit of common goals. This phenomenon boosts collective performance and helps individuals recover from personal trauma. Businesses cannot afford to overlook its positive effects.