Poor work performance and absenteeism are often side effects of poor mental health, and businesses can lose millions of dollars because of them. The first step a company can take to address mental health in the workplace is to assess the mental health of employees.

Don’t Ignore Mental Health

Along with providing convenient and confidential access to healthcare providers, companies can improve mental health in the workplace through methods of assessment, looking for signs and symptoms, and asking the right questions of employees to get honest answers.

Nearly one-quarter of adults experience a diagnosable mental illness during a given year, but mental health, especially in the workplace, is often overlooked. Many people associate symptoms with daily stress or normal lifestyle changes. One of the easiest and most effective ways for employers to address mental health in the workplace is to help employees simply recognize their risk factors.

How Employees can Improve Mental Health

Employers can give access to a mental health professional by providing onsite healthcare or inviting a provider in to give free screenings. These confidential assessments usually involve a simple questionnaire, and if the screening reveals a high risk for a mental health issue, the employee can be referred to another specialist for further assessment.

Employers can also direct employees to online self-assessment tools. Some available tools help identify symptoms of common mood disorders, such as anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder. Check Up from the Neck Up and Working Through It are two resources that apply to mental health more generally. Other tools are more targeted and measure an individual’s mental health risk based on work-life balance, alcohol-use, or living with a disability.

Once you’ve identified mental health issues in your workplace, or educated employees to identify the signs and symptoms of mental health issues, you can provide resources to improve mental health, including an EAP, exercise and nutrition programs, work-life balance initiatives, and more.

Mental Health in the Workplace

“It’s an illusion to say that some people have mental illness and others don’t. The truth is, we’re all in a position where we’re a little bit sad, anxious, inattentive, naughty, or quirky. All of us at one point or another have experienced behavioral health issues,” says Hudziak.

Employers are taking notice. According to Willis Towers Watson’s September 2018 survey, employers are prioritizing mental and behavioral health investments. “39 percent of employers offer initiatives to support chronic behavioral health conditions, and 26 percent are considering these initiatives for 2020.”

One such employer is CHG Healthcare. They’ve been named one of Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work for nine years in a row, and rose to the top three the same year they onsite health center. When three out of five health center visits were behavioral health-related, they decided they needed to add onsite behavioral health services.

“Our onsite behavioral health providers build crucial relationships with our people and provide an immediate resource when our people need it most. The response has been so strong with our employee population,” says Anne Hopkins, senior manager of benefits and wellness at CHG Healthcare.

Sheetz, a privately held convenience store chain, saw the need for integrating mental health services into their healthcare plan after costs for mental healthcare continued to increase.

“Three of our top 25 prescriptions relate to behavioral health. It was clear that this needed our attention and that our traditional telephonic EAP solution was underutilized,” says Bill Young, director of total rewards, talent acquisition and risk management at Sheetz.

To learn how Sheetz incorporated behavioral health services into their onsite health center, read our earlier blog “It’s time to make mental health in the workplace actionable.”

Supporting Workforce Mental Health

Making behavioral healthcare easy, accessible, and affordable is essential to tearing down the barriers to care. Worksite mental healthcare is a valued employee benefit that acknowledges our brain is constantly under construction. Your workforce needs help building healthy brains, healthy habits, and healthy lives. Worksite mental healthcare can get them there.

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