How and Why Employers Should Implement a Mental Health Policy
More than ever, employers are taking measures to ensure that the well-being of their employees is being looked after, and yet in many workplaces, mental health is still the elephant in the room. It threatens productivity, retention and is one of the leading causes of absenteeism. By implementing a formal mental health and wellness policy, employers can mitigate the risk. It is a win-win. Employees’ mental health needs are met and productivity is enhanced. In fact, according to the World Health Organization, for every dollar invested into treating conditions such as anxiety and depression, four dollars are gained as a result of greater productivity.[i]
What does a mental health policy accomplish?
A mental health policy supports employees’ psychological needs in the workplace, ultimately enabling them to leave each day in the same or better mental state than when they came in. The policies are geared toward preventing psychological injury, promoting mental well-being and protecting and supporting those employees with mental illness.
Having such a strategy in place is not only a good thing to do for your employees, but it is a good business decision as well.
How to develop a mental health and wellness policy.
A mental health policy should be incorporated into your company’s overall occupational health and safety plan. It should be built on the pillars of awareness, accountability and action.
In order to develop a solid mental health strategy for your workplace, one of the first steps is to be aware of potential hazards. These may include stressful scenarios that are embedded into workplace duties (such as in the case of a medical worker) or they may include elements of the workplace culture which need to be addressed (such as bullying).
It is crucial for your mental health policy to have clear accountability framework and strategy for implementation. It should outline clear targets for prevention, intervention and treatment as well as the responsibilities of senior management.
Provisions should be made for ongoing measurement and the mental health strategy should be woven into the workplace culture.
Your company’s mental health policy can grow and develop over time. The following are some actions you can take to help it be successful:
- Get the support of senior management – while a successful strategy will require buy-in from all levels, it needs to start at the top.
- Design a strategy that suits the needs of your business – every company will have different needs depending on size, industry, etc.
- Support employees with tools and resources. Sometimes having access to these resources may be enough to reduce risk for your employees.
- Create a stigma-free environment. Engage your employees in open dialogue about mental health so that they can learn about early warning signs and the help that is available (i.e. EAP).
- Monitor your program and make changes as necessary. As your company grows and changes, its needs may change as well. Conduct regular reviews of your mental health policy and the dollars you are spending on programs to determine whether changes are required in the areas of prevention, intervention and/or treatment.
For more information about developing a mental health policy for your business, or for expert help in managing disabilities arising from mental health claims, contact the team at TeksMed today.