Impact of Corporate Mental Health

Mental health in the workplace has become a topic of intense discussion. Traditionally, employers have shunned talking about it, but, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, roughly 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. deal with mental illness each year, including anxiety and depression. Depression, alone, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, causes an estimated 200 million lost work days and costs employers $17 to $44 million, per year.

The COVID-19 pandemic, and the disruption and isolation it has caused, has had a negative impact on mental health, making it all that more important for your company to implement an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) if it hasn’t already. Your corporate culture should promote openness to talk about mental health. If it does not, the information below can help.

What Is an EAP?

An EAP is intended to support an employee’s mental health in the workplace, as it has a major impact on their daily work and physical wellness. Many large employers haven’t put such a program in place. However, EAPs have been around since the 1940s when occupational alcohol programs were created to address external factors that affect job performance.

It was soon realized that alcohol wasn’t the only factor that affected employees. Over time, many businesses have adopted programs to address a range of mental health conditions.

An EAP can incorporate a range of services and resources. Whether via professional help, virtually, or by email, a typical program can incorporate:

  • Treatment for substance abuse and co-occurring mental illness
  • Guidance for relationship, legal, or financial concerns
  • Help to resolve conflicts and manage stress
  • Grief counseling
  • Resources to help with parenting, family, or elderly care
  • Training resources regarding personal wellness

Consequences of Poor Mental Health in the Workplace

Mental health issues and stress are known to contribute to the risk of hypertension, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, headaches, back pain, gastrointestinal problems, and other physical conditions. Also, employees who experience burn-out have difficulties meeting their professional and personal obligations.

In the workplace, the effects include reduced productivity and profitability, increased absenteeism, and a higher risk of human error. Loss of concentration, poor decision making, and poor job performance can be signs of a mental health issue as well.

A Dutch study analyzed by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) revealed people employed in fast-paced jobs were more at risk of poor mental health. They include managers, teachers, physicians, architects, and others occupied in specialty professions. Other high-risk groups identified include personal assistants, restaurant servers, and construction laborers.3

What Affects Mental Health in the Workplace?

Some of the most common work-related stressors identified by the NIH include:

  • Relationship Problems with Superiors: Having a difficult boss isn’t only a nuisance. It can harm your mental health. Employees often suffer mentally when they’re required to multitask and perform duties that are not part of their role or skillset. Communicating the matter honestly with superiors can help resolve this problem.
  • Conflicts with Co-Workers: Interacting with a difficult co-worker day after day can be difficult on one’s mental health. It’s not uncommon to compare their performance to your own. Explaining the situation to a co-worker and superior can have greater benefits than allowing a rivalry to continue.
  • High Performance Demands: If management puts unrealistic expectations on employees, it can create unreasonable and unhealthy pressure, especially if it involves increased workload and longer work hours and requires one to perform at peak levels all the time. It can leave you physically and emotionally drained and, if abundant travel is involved, time away from family can be stressful.
  • Work-Family Conflicts: A work-life balance can be hard to find. Working excessive hours can create domestic issues or interfere with your ability to manage them. Unless you can find time to allot for both, reducing stress can be an unachievable goal.
  • Bureaucratic Constraints: The rules and structure of the organization provide checks and balances but can add constraints and stress for managers. Job overload, uncomfortable conditions, and lack of control over processes don’t help. Work role ambiguity and the sheer monotony of the job can also leave you mentally stressed.
  • Job Insecurity: Corporate changes, such as mergers, reorganizations, and takeovers, can generate intense competition that’s hard to keep up with. It can also make it hard for companies to survive. Every CEO, manager, and employee must step up to meet the demand, but that’s not enough to guarantee success.

Develop a Workplace Mental Health Policy

An employee assistance program can have a positive impact on employees’ productivity and emotional well-being if it provides support for individuals suffering from depression. The results of CuraLinc Healthcare research in 2016, studying 3,497 EAP cases, found that 85.7% of participants with moderate to severe depression experienced an improvement in their condition. Over 90% of participants with any type of depression showed significant or moderate improvement.4

To achieve this and other positive results, your company must have a well-developed mental health policy. It can include proven modalities such as:

  • Mental health screenings
  • Telehealth, text, and other virtual counseling
  • Work-life assistance
  • Computerized cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Training for EAP providers
  • Workplace stress surveys
  • Training in coping and resilience techniques
  • Directly addressing employee harassment
  • Access to mental health professionals

Availability and promotion are important as well. You can increase EAP utilization when mental health services are promoted to employees so they can become aware of them. Not every EAP is the same. The quality of the program is important. Free services or those embedded within other programs may not provide the support needed to achieve positive outcomes.

However, a full-service, stand-alone EAP is more effective than bundled services and can yield a higher utilization rate. Purchasing one can make counseling and work-life referrals more readily available to your employees. A top-tier EAP improves access to a range of services, including in-person counseling and telephone, video, text, chat, or peer support. It also helps to have a program that incorporates critical incident response, risk management, and manager training/consultation.

Last, a workplace mental well-being policy should clearly state the organization’s values and principles and identify objectives and components of the program.

How an EAP Benefits Employers

Employees are most productive when they feel recognized, involved, and important. On the other hand, not addressing their needs or mental health can result in a negative perspective of your company, which can reduce efficiency, performance, and retention. An EAP can reduce absenteeism, as it is an indicator of employee well-being and costly turnover. Successful programs have also been associated with reduced work-related accidents and injuries.

Designing an effective assistance program is possible when working with an occupational safety professional, who can coordinate with doctors, business leaders, and other professionals. The appropriate treatment can address mental health concerns before a person lashes out or experiences physical symptoms. Therefore, an EAP provides benefits to both employees and companies.

Partner with Balance Treatment Center

Balance Treatment Center provides a range of mental health programs that focus on who the individual is and what is preventing their growth. We start with an accurate diagnosis and communicate with various professionals, with the goal of providing long-term relief and understanding any underlying conflicts. Experience working with professionals and communities positions us to be a promoter of mental health in the workplace.

To learn more about our services, recognitions, and available insurance benefits, or to get involved in one of our programs, contact us today!