What are employers' role in ensuring mental health is practiced as a universal human right in the workplace?
The modern-day workplace has seen a seismic shift in attitudes towards mental health. As employees navigate the complexities of a digital age rife with rapid changes, the importance of workplaces addressing and prioritising mental health cannot be stressed enough. In fact, 80% of employees cite mental health support as a major consideration in choosing their place of work. The significance of analysing this cannot be understated, especially as October, recognised as Mental Health Month, draws attention to the importance of awareness, understanding, and advocacy on this crucial subject.
Here we look at how mental health is being upheld in modern workplaces, as well as practical ways employers can further support mental health initiatives.
Recognising the Evolving Attitude Towards Mental Health in the Workplace
Historically, discussions around mental health have been shrouded in stigma. However, recent years have witnessed a progressive recognition of its importance. Major companies like Deloitte have started offering flexible working hours, recognising that not everyone operates optimally from 9 to 5. This acknowledges that mental health issues, such as anxiety or depression, can impact an individual's daily rhythm.
Mental health days and Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) are also widely being implemented in many organisations. IBM and Ford, for instance, have incorporated EAPs into their work, offering their employees access to mental health professionals and resources. These programs signify a shift from reactive to proactive measures, similar to ThoughtFull’s mission that emphasises prevention over cure.
The Importance of Mental Health in Organisations
Scientific studies have only bolstered the claim for the need for mental health support in workplaces. Research has found that:
- Mental health issues lead to absenteeism and presenteeism. A study by the World Health Organization found that depression and anxiety have a significant economic impact, costing the global economy an estimated $1 trillion per year in lost productivity.
- Engaged employees perform better. However, mental health issues can hinder engagement. A study found that employees who suffer from depression miss an estimated 68 days per year, impacting overall team morale and engagement.
- Mental well-being plays a pivotal role in job satisfaction. According to a study, employees who derive meaning and significance from their jobs are more likely to stay with their organisations, resulting in higher job satisfaction.
- Recognise the evolving attitude towards MH in the workplace. Emphasising work-life balance is paramount in today's work culture. To enhance this, tools like Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) can be integrated, equipping staff to identify and respond to signs of mental distress more effectively.
By acknowledging the pivotal role mental health plays in workplaces, organisations are not only creating a nurturing environment for their employees but are also positioning themselves for long-term success. This attitude towards mental health also opens the floor for a more personalised method toward mental wellbeing. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach for mental healthcare, so it’s important for each organisation to assess according to their team’s landscape.
The Future of Wellbeing in Universal Human Rights
The notion of mental health has transitioned from being a mere personal concern to a fundamental human right. Universal human rights emphasise the dignity and worth of every person. Therefore, in a world that values equity, access to mental health resources and care should be universal. This recognition sets the trajectory for a more inclusive and compassionate future, where well-being is at the heart of human rights discussions.
The Current State of Mental Health in Workplaces Around The World
The WHO, alongside the International Labour Organization (ILO), has emphasised the urgent need to address workplace mental health. Annually, depression and anxiety result in the loss of 12 billion workdays, with a cost of almost US$ 1 trillion to the global economy. To combat this, WHO has released guidelines targeting mental health risks at work, such as excessive workload and toxic behaviours. A significant recommendation is training managers to create healthy work environments and support distressed workers.
The guidelines also advocate for accommodating workers with mental health conditions, and recommending strategies to ease their reintegration into work. Special attention is also given to health, humanitarian, and emergency workers. WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, stressed the need to recognise the toll workplaces can take on mental health, emphasising both individual well-being and productivity are at stake. These guidelines are a step forward in fostering positive work cultures and offering necessary mental health support to employees.
Mental Health Initiatives for Organisations
Here are some mental health initiatives that organisations can implement in the workplace:
- Workplace Wellbeing Policies: Beyond Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs), companies can have clear policies on mental health, ensuring that employees are not discriminated against based on their mental health condition. These policies can outline support structures like counselling services, flexible working conditions, and regular mental health check-ins.
- Mental Health Awareness Training: Organisations can implement training sessions that equip their workforce, especially managerial roles, to recognise, understand, and support mental health issues.
- Employee Resource Groups (ERGs): Establishing ERGs focused on mental health can offer peer support, conduct awareness sessions, and play a vital role in destigmatising mental health discussions in the workplace.
- Foster openness: Tackling mental health stigma requires creating a culture of open dialogue. Encouraging candid conversations between colleagues, with supervisors, and HR can dismantle barriers and create understanding.
Providing Universal Support with ThoughtFullChat: Access, Technology, and Workplace Wellbeing
Despite technology's strides, disparities persist. Many in low-resource areas still struggle to access quality care. This is where apps like ThoughtFullChat can be game-changers, reaching a wider audience, ensuring that mental health care isn't just for the privileged few, but universal support for everyone.
ThoughtFullChat: A Tool for Workplace Mental Health
With mental health issues becoming increasingly prevalent, workplaces need tangible solutions. ThoughtFull offers exactly that. Partnering with employers, ThoughtFull ensures that mental health support isn't an added perk but a fundamental right for all employees. By integrating the ThoughtFullChat app, employers can offer their teams immediate, tailored and quality support.
ThoughtFullChat offers employees:
- Immediate Assistance: If an employee feels overwhelmed, they can access the app for instant support, whether it's through automated resources or connecting with professionals.
- Daily Check-Ins: The app serves as a daily mental health check-in, prompting employees to reflect on their wellbeing.
- Tailored Resources: Based on individual profiles, ThoughtFullChat provides customised resources and coping tools, from articles to relaxation exercises.
- Progress Tracking: Knowledge is power. And ThoughtFull believes in empowering organisations. Through the app, employees can track their growth over time with mood trackers, journals, and emotional health assessments. This allows employers to understand their team's mental health and further tailor-fit the support required.
As our understanding of mental health deepens, it's crucial that workplaces, governments, and organisations collectively rise to the challenge. By recognising mental health as a universal human right, we not only champion individual well-being but also cultivate a society ripe for innovation, sustainable development, and collective progress.
Tools like ThoughtFullChat exemplify this commitment, turning aspirations into tangible actions. As we move forward, let us ensure that mental health remains at the forefront of our priorities, building a future where every individual feels seen, supported, and valued.
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