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Management’s Role in Supporting Employee Mental Health

Employees continue to experience higher-than-normal levels of emotional turmoil and stress. The World Health Organization reported that mental disorders are the leading cause of “years lived with disability”.[i] Ignoring or avoiding feelings may cause even more severe and debilitating mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, burnout, trauma, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The support and benefits offered to employees for improved mental health is an important topic for HealthComp. Now more than ever, we believe it is important employees feel they have a safe space not only in the home but also in the workspace to share concerns or stressors. Companies who want to prioritize employee mental health through benefits should seek to connect workers with therapists, encourage mindfulness and enforce work-life boundaries. One of the best resources available to leadership and HR professionals to help maintain awareness of employee mental health and help direct employees to help is their employee management teams.

Managers are consistently interacting and checking in with their employees. They are aware of transitions the employee may be experiencing, both professionally and personally. Creating a culture of health and safety begins with this team. Because of the unique position managers have in their employees’ lives, it’s important to prioritize mental health training for managers by budgeting for it, protecting managers’ time so they can attend training, and ensuring the training is relevant to the needs of the team.

Managers who have received training will be better equipped to spot signs of distress and talk to employees without overstepping boundaries. According to Unmind’s 2023 Workplace Mental Health Trends,“a manager should be empathetic and, where necessary, a signpost to expert help… managers also set the tone – wielding the power to curate a safe environment, where employees feel able to open up.” Based on this, it’s important to also prioritize the mental health and well-being of management teams. “Managers are busy people. In fact, the individuals we expect to support the most people across an organization, quite often, run on empty themselves. Poor manager wellbeing not only puts their health on the line, but is shown to increase the risk of poorer leadership and employee mental health difficulties.”

It’s important to remember that workplace wellness and employee health is an investment. You’ll be repaid over time by managers who feel empowered and capable of supporting their teams. According to a World Health Organization report, every dollar invested in treatment for anxiety and depression leads to a four-dollar return through better health and lower turnover in your employees. When workers receive treatment for mental ill-health issues, it helps lower overall healthcare costs, increases productivity, and reduces absenteeism and disability.

Elaine Davis, HealthComp CHRO, shared, “Mental health is health. Period. At HealthComp, we believe in taking care of the whole person so that our associates can do their best work and live their best lives, every day”.

HealthComp is available to help you establish an employee EAP, or review benefits to determine how current mental health benefits could be expanded or better communicated to employees and management for utilization. Reach out to your Account Manager or a member of the HealthComp sales team today to learn more.

[1] World mental health report: transforming mental health for all. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2022. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO.

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