Health: the condition of being sound in body, mind, or spirit Merriam Webster Dictionary
The most commonly neglected part of this definition is ‘mind;’ especially in the workplace. Yes, starting your day with an apple, staying hydrated, and taking your vitamins are all important, but that only gets you half way through your health check. The other half includes mental health, something that can be detrimental to personal and company growth if not taken care of. 1 in 5 adults live with a mental health disorder whether diagnosed or not, and a shocking $100 Billion per year are spent in the US on costs related to untreated mental illness. The WHO estimates a $30-$40 Billion cost per year for depression alone. While some may still not agree with the severity of mental health disorders, recognizing the importance of striving for strong, healthy minds is something that everyone can attest to; it’s nothing different than watching our cholesterol levels for the sake of having a healthy heart. Furthermore, addressing mental health isn’t just for people with disorders. It’s crucial for everyone to integrate into their everyday lives, both at work and at home. That being said, implementing practices to promote mental health in the workplace can reap great benefits for your company such as productivity boosts and significantly lower health costs. Here are three suggestions to get you started:
1. Implement a wellness program
Exercise comes with a beautiful plethora of benefits including a sharper ability to focus, lower stress levels, boosted productivity, and alleviated anxiety. With the help of nifty new technology from companies like Fitbit , it’s now easier than ever to implement your own company-specific wellness program. Make fitness into a company-wide competition with a fun prize incentive like a giftcard to StarBucks, or something that would promote even more fitness like a pass for 10 yoga classes at your local studio. Having a friendly competition will not only better your company’s mental health, but its culture as well, as it makes employees feel like they are part of something larger.
2. Make talking a norm
Did you have a stressful morning? Is a client giving you a hard time? Take a minute to let it out. Turn your chair towards your co-worker in the cubicle next to you and relieve your mind of that stressor. No, it is not a sign of weakness. We all get stressed. It’s normal. But letting it out feels a lot better than keeping it in, and our minds will appreciate it more too. Does your company struggle to be more open? Try organizing non-company related activities like a company lunch. At lunch, make it a rule that no one is allowed to talk about anything work-related. When you begin to actually get to know each other out of the context of work, the workplace will have a more communicative environment -- good for your mental health and your company.
Be sure that those struggling with serious mental health issues, as well as those with family members struggling with mental health issues, feel comfortable expressing their struggles at work. Companies that are more open and accepting of mental health issues tend to have a greater sense of empathy and employee loyalty in the workplace.
3. Survey the masses
Not everyone is going to be so open about their struggles. Send out a simple biannual survey to gauge where your employees are at. Questions should be about an employee’s own mental health as well as an his or her perception of the company’s mental health as a whole. Keep the survey anonymous, but release the statistics that come with them. They may come as a shock to you and your employees, or not. Either way they will feel more connected to the company with such personal information about the team as a whole. Implementing a before and after survey can show the effectiveness of wellness programs as well.
Taking these initial steps is sure to kick-start your company’s journey to great health, and plenty of long-term benefits are to follow including decreased health-related costs, higher productivity, and a better company culture.
Aya Tsuruta is a Content Marketing Journalist at Repsly where she covers sales and marketing content through a creative lens. In addition to writing for Repsly, she is a frequent contributor to the music blog, Indie Music Filter, and BC magazine, the Gavel.