You may have developed a health and wellness program at your organization to help employees maximize their physical health. But does your program have a mental health component?

Mental health plays just as much of a role as physical wellbeing in the happiness and productivity of employees, and companies that fail to recognize this often pay a steep price. Mental illness is a major cause of disability, increased healthcare expenses, productivity loss and absenteeism (with depression alone responsible for over 200 million lost workdays each year), and mental health issues cost employers nearly $100 billion in indirect costs last year. Mental health issues often lead to physical health issues as well, as overstressed employees today become physically ill tomorrow, leading to an increase in healthcare costs.

Here is a list of successful methods that many organizations have implemented to help their employees reach their highest levels of mental health, and subsequently lower their healthcare costs.

Successful Wellness Methods That Increase Employee Mental Health

There are several ways to implement programs in your organization that will help employees to tackle their mental health issues (whether they be stress, anxiety, depression or substance abuse, all highly treatable conditions), but a very important first step is to make cultural changes that eliminates the stigma of mental illness and allows employees to feel comfortable, safe and supported when they reach out for help and treatment. This can be achieved with both communications campaigns that increase awareness and education about mental health issues and provide understanding, assistance and support, as well as policy changes that support emotional and psychological wellness and treatment (such as allowing employees to attend weekly therapy appointments during business hours). Participation in programs can maximized through the implementation of an incentives program, where employees are rewarded for taking stress tests, seeing a counselor, taking mental health assessments, etc.

Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) 

EAPs are employee benefit programs, offered by employers and intended to help employees deal with personal problems that might adversely impact their job performance, health, and well-being. EAPs help employees to find professional help with both work and personal issues. The majority of employees who are living and working with a mental illness are not in treatment for their condition, often because they don’t have the resources to find proper help. EAPs can assist, leading to healthier employees and a decrease in worker’s compensation claims, absenteeism and employer healthcare costs.

Exercise Programs

Physical activity is one of the most effective treatments of mental health conditions such as stress, depression and anxiety.. Encouraging exercise in your workplace (i.e. through an onsite fitness center; free yoga classes; group fun runs; etc.) is a great way to improve both the physical and mental wellbeing of your employees, at little to no cost.

Enlist Community Resources

Invite a mental health professional from the local provider community to give free mental health screenings at the office, teach mindfulness to employees or hold seminars on stress and coping strategies.

Stress Management Programs

The indirect cost of stress to American business is estimated at $200-300 billion per year. By creating a stress management program at the office (including environmental changes, increased break times for socialization, and offering free stress reduction workshops), you can help your organization to avoid these unnecessary costs.

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