Mental Health in the Workplace

Mental Health in the Workplace

May is annually regarded as mental health awareness month – an important time in which we address the mental health struggles that millions of Americans face every day. One particular space in which the topic of mental health is often associated is the workplace. Whether you are working as a construction worker or an accountant, prioritizing and honoring the mental health of individuals within the workplace is pivotal. Furthermore, in this article, we will explore the prominence of mental health issues in the workplace, common causes, and what preventative measures can be taken.

Mental Health Statistics

To give some perspective as to how widespread the issue of mental health is across the U.S., it was reported that one in 5 adults ages 18 or older struggle with mental illness. This amounts to approximately 44.7 million people in the U.S. who are struggling with their mental well-being each day. Additionally, in a study conducted by the American Psychological Association in 2021, it was reported that three in five employees have been negatively impacted by work-induced stress.

Common Causes 

There are several reasons why mental health issues are incredibly common in the workplace. While many of these reasons may be attributed to external factors, such as financial stability or familial issues that bleed into your daily life at work, there are also a handful of reasons why your mental health may be further strained at work. Some of these common causes include but are not limited to:

  • Unclear job expectations
  • Lack of support and resources
  • Unrealistic workload
  • Excessive overtime hours and inflexible schedules
  • Inadequate training
  • Poor working conditions that jeopardize employee health and safety
  • Extreme stress
  • Discrimination, bullying, or harassment by colleagues
  • Excessive fatigue
  • Low wages
  • Lack of diversity or inclusiveness
  • Commuting to work
  • Lack of decision-making involvement
  • Not enough time off permitted

What Can Be Done

Although experiencing mental health struggles in the workplace can be debilitating and difficult to get through, fortunately, there are some steps that employers and companies can take to help improve the mental health of their employees. Some of these actionable items include:

  • Regular mental health check-ins
  • Allow flexibility in scheduling and remote work
  • Reduce the stigma around mental health by having educated conversations on the topic
  • Invest in mental health training programs
  • Make mental health resources, such as counseling and therapy, accessible
  • Encourage employees to use their vacation time and truly disconnect when doing so
  • Ensure an employee assistance program (EAP) is in place
  • Reassure employees that they are supported and that their mental health is valued

Take a Mental Health Day

In addition to the actions above that can be taken to help improve the mental health of individuals in the workplace, taking a mental health day is also something worth considering. According to the Orange County employment lawyers at Sessions & Kimball, LLP, California’s Paid Sick Leave Law allows employees to take time off for physical or mental illness, which can be interpreted as allowing individuals to take a mental health day. In more serious cases, employees may also be able to take up to 12 weeks of leave for their mental health conditions under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Furthermore, do not hesitate to give yourself a break and take a mental health day to help you recover and maintain your well-being. In turn, this will likely improve your workplace productivity as well.