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The Benefits of Mental Health Training in the Workplace

Employee mental health concerns are at an all-time high— according to a recent report by Pathways, 9 out of 10 employees are concerned about burnout. For most HR professionals, this doesn’t come as a surprise. Since the onset of COVID-19, HR has seen how poor employee mental health impacts the workplace. With higher rates of turnover, absenteeism, and presenteeism, the price of employee mental health issues is too high to ignore.  

While COVID-19 highlighted the importance of well-being at work, mental health training has benefited organizations beyond coping with the pandemic. When employees have the tools to manage their mental health, they are more productive and engaged at work. For HR, mental health training programs lead to greater organizational health and reduce the costs associated with poor employee well-being. 

Mental health training in the workplace can address employee stressors before they impact your company’s morale, your employees’ overall wellbeing and life satisfaction, and your bottom line. If your organization is interested in supporting employee well-being, check out the benefits of mental health training in the workplace. 

 

Reducing the Stigma

When organizations implement mental health training programs, it helps normalize stress, depression, and anxiety. When organizations reduce stigma around mental health, employees are less likely to suffer in silence. It’s essential to concentrate on the whole person and connect the dots between psychological and physical wellbeing. Training employees on how to manage their well-being can reduce feelings of shame when they are struggling. When employees feel comfortable talking about their well-being at work, they’re less likely to withdraw or become disengaged. 

Workplace mental health training programs should reduce the stigma about seeking help, too. Employees who are informed of existing benefits and encouraged to use them are more likely to seek help when they are suffering or heading into crisis. These programs can demystify stigma and reduce uncertainty about an Employee Assistance Program or in-network therapy options. 

 

Improved Employee Productivity & Performance 

Mental health concerns like stress, anxiety, and depression are distracting and can become all-consuming. When employees are experiencing mental health problems, they can’t maintain their normal productivity levels. Additionally, many persons understandably seek to reduce their stress through unhealthy eating or misuse of substances. Over time, this will impact their job performance and can significantly impact an organization’s overall morale and bottom line. For example, the World Health Organization estimates that mental health disorders cost the global economy $1 trillion each year in lost productivity

Most HR teams assume that an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) alone can offset the impact of poor employee mental health. But that’s not the case. Employees are usually in crisis when they utilize their organization’s EAP; typically, their performance has already suffered. In addition, practical mental health training in the workplace promotes daily stress reduction techniques, lifestyle changes, and EAP utilization, helping to prevent many employee mental health crises. 

Mental health training programs are proactive, giving team members the tools they need to maintain their well-being through identifying and managing root stressors that impact job performance.  Training programs empower employees to manage their mental health day-to-day so that they can remain productive and engaged. 

 

Boost Company Culture 

86% of employees believe their company’s culture should support mental health, according to Harvard Business Review. Implementing a mental health training program lets employees know that your organization cares about their well-being. Introducing a training program also reduces the stigma around mental illness and creates a healthier work environment. When employees feel like their well-being matters to their organization, they become more invested. 

The core component of creating a healthy company culture is psychological safety in the workplace. Psychological safety means employees feel comfortable sharing honestly at work and being their authentic selves without fear of rejection or repercussions. Authenticity at work leads to higher levels of engagement and lower levels of burnout, which are vital company culture metrics. Mental health training programs promote psychological safety and allow employees to be open about their well-being. 

 

Reduce Workplace Conflict

Employee well-being is a contributing factor to conflict in the workplace. When employees are struggling to manage their mental health, they struggle to communicate effectively and thoughtfully. Common mental health concerns like stress can make team members less capable of navigating obstacles with coworkers. In addition, tension from a stressful pandemic and social injustice issues has created unhealthy divisions, only adding to the potential for employee conflict. Poor employee well-being leads to more conflict at work and makes team members less likely to resolve conflict. 

When employees have access to an ongoing mental health program at work, they learn valuable tools to manage their mental health. These tools can help reduce stress levels, improve communication, and build trust with team members. In addition, when mental health is a workplace priority, employees become more aware of how their stress and resulting emotional reactivity or withdrawal can contribute to conflict. This awareness can help them navigate difficult conversations more thoughtfully and be more patient when their coworkers are stressed. 

 

Better Overall Employee Health & Wellness 

Organizations have always been invested in their employee’s wellness and in reducing healthcare issues and costs. However, when employee wellness focuses mostly on physical health, it’s missing an essential piece of the puzzle. Employee mental health and physical health are closely related. For example, depression increases the risk of cancer by 50% and the risk of heart disease by 67%. In general, stress reduces the immune system’s effectiveness and raises the incidence of inflammation that exacerbates illness. 

Giving employees the tools they need to manage their mental health can improve their health outcomes long term. For example, learning skills to reduce anxiety and stress leads to better sleep, a crucial part of overall physical and mental health. Additionally, improvements to employee well-being reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke long term. Making mental health a priority in your workplace can also help employees develop healthier habits that benefit their physical health. 

Like a company-sponsored 5k or walkathon is a preventive approach to heart health, mental health training programs help prevent poor health outcomes. Educating employees can improve their overall well-being but also contribute to better physical health. A holistic approach to wellness includes supporting employee well-being and has a greater impact on employees’ overall health. 

 

Why Skipping Mental Health Training in the Workplace is Risky

Some organizations believe that mental health training in the workplace is a perk rather than a necessity. But failing to address employee well-being with effective training comes with significant risks. Employees are expecting more from their organizations, and ignoring the importance of their well-being can lead to higher rates of turnover, absenteeism, and disengagement at work.

80% of American workers say they would consider quitting their current position for an organization focused on employee mental health. Employees expect more support from their employers and turn to the competitive job market when their organization falls short. Not only does this impact your organization’s retention rates, but it can also make recruiting talent difficult.

When organizations don’t train employees to manage their mental health, absenteeism and presenteeism can become a big problem. For example, employees struggling with depression miss 27 workdays annually on average. When employees cannot fully function on the job due to mental health concerns, it’s called presenteeism. Presenteeism due to poor mental health costs employers around $150 billion annually.

Failing to implement a robust mental health training program can impact employee engagement and company culture. The stigma around mental health can make employees feel isolated when they’re struggling. If your organization hasn’t actively worked to reduce the stigma around mental health, employees are more likely to become disengaged.

 

Launching a Mental Health in the Workplace Training Program

Your organization can take a proactive approach to employee well-being by launching a mental health training program. You can start by surveying your employees about what mental health concerns are impacting them the most. Next, consider what stressors are unique to your organizations’ industry to account for factors that influence employee well-being. These steps will help you understand what your mental health training in the workplace needs to address. 

Choosing the right mental health program for your organization is a critical part of improving employee well-being. Our behavioral health experts will design a training program to meet your needs and implement ongoing mental health support and resources. Reach out here to see how Pathways can help your organization benefit from an effective employee mental health training program.

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