Published on December 21, 2022

The Importance of Mental Wellness in the Workplace

by Psych Times Staff

Depression and anxiety cost the global economy $1 trillion annually, mainly from reduced productivity, as reported by the World Health Organization. Businesses are increasingly prioritizing employee health and wellness, since failing to do so results in higher turnover rates and absenteeism, and lower motivation. A sound work ethic, flexibility, healthcare, and insurance are all vital components of a happy, productive workplace; but how are modern companies ensuring that these vital needs are met?

Therapeutic Help for Employees

Savvy companies are understanding the importance of accessibility to mental health services if required. Starbucks, for instance, is providing hundreds of thousands of employees with free access to 20 sessions with a mental health therapist or coach. BetterUp relies on artificial intelligence to identify employees that need coaching and makes specific recommendations in terms of the type of coach and number of sessions. Coaching is available in several forms, including one-on-one meetings, ad hoc support, and coaching circles involving peers. The mindfulness-based app, Calm, is currently partnering with various companies to offer employees tools such as guided meditation and breathing sessions, physical exercise, and masterclasses on mental conditioning subjects like creativity and achieving peak performance.

Prioritizing the Mind-Body Connection

There is an important link between workers’ physical and mental health and wellbeing. One study published in The Journal of Trauma showed that people who experience physical trauma and are hospitalized are at a heightened risk for mental disorders. The presence of depression following injury, meanwhile, impacts recovery time, with studies showing that people with high levels of depression have a significantly lower likelihood of recovery at 12 months. To preserve the health of their workers, companies are prioritizing interventions that reduce both injury and disease. Even if low-risk occupations, workers should be protected against issues like pollution, noise, poor work organization, and a lack of ergonomics in the workplace.

Flexibility is Key

For countless employees, flexibility is vital when it comes to juggling competing work and personal demands. A survey by Wildgoose has shown that 39% of people who work for a flexible organization have benefited from improved mental health. Moreover, some 43% of people who were not offered flexibility felt that this quality would improve their mental health. Companies like Dell are permitting employees to work remotely part- or full-time, at variable hours. Nearly 60% of this tech company’s workers are doing so flexibly, enabling the company to save $12 million annually on office space. The company Humana, which has a call center team, developed a pilot program that equipped these employees with at-home tech that enable them to work from home. Appen, which has employees working in seven countries, has found a way to maintain a sense of connection between them by investing in document-sharing solutions, instant messaging, video conferencing, and other tools. Moreover, management has been given dedicated training to enable them to successfully manage remote teams.

Modern companies have woken up to the connection between physical and mental wellbeing. They have also availed of various bodies of research showing that happy workers are more productive and motivated. There are many ways that forward-thinking entities are protecting their workers’ mental health. These include the provision of free mental health aid, greater flexibility, and work accident, injury, and illness prevention.

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