mental health workplace wellness

Mental Health in Workplace: Call to Action

As we have reported previously, the need for workplace wellness programs to focus on mental health needs continues to grow — and, too often, does not receive enough attention.

Indeed, the business costs related to mental health are not trivial. Employee Benefits News — in a piece titled “Poor mental health is costing employers billions,” reports that “because employees are not seeking treatment for these conditions, employers are losing an estimated $225.8 billion each year due to stress, anxiety, depression and substance abuse contributing to high turnover, burnout, exhaustion and decreased motivation.”

Further, a Workplace Insights piece reports that the challenge may be even greater than previously thought: “Two thirds of workers too embarrassed to tell boss about mental health issues.”

The data support the important role that a well-run workplace wellness program can play in promoting mental health awareness in the office.

Now a new report published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine reports on a symposium organized at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health: The “Mental Health in the Workplace: A Public Health Summit.”

The report is titled “Mental Health in the Workplace: A Call to Action Proceedings from the Mental Health in the Workplace: Public Health Summit.” The article “summarizes the discussions that took place at the Summit and the resulting recommendations for specific actions to be taken to advance mental health in the workplace at the individual, organizational, and policy levels.”

The Summit goals were:

  • “Gather experts in mental and occupational health, drawing from various professional disciplines including corporate medicine, human resources, health promotion, academia, clinical practice, journalism, community health, insurance, and policy making.”
  • “Bring together these representatives from multiple sectors, to inspire a “call to action” directed at the business community and its partners, urging them to exert their powerful influence on local, state, and national policymakers.”
  • “Meaningful actions taken by forward thinking business leaders and occupational health professionals… could significantly enhance the quality of work life for millions of Americans as well as enhance employee productivity.”
  • “Such an initiative could become the springboard for a generational change of attitude regarding mental health in America and how one’s experience at work can influence quality of life overall.”

As we will outline over the next days, the report outlines key insights and actions — indeed, a call to action — to address mental health issues in the workplace.

The report states: “Building cultures of health at the workplace should protect and promote health and safety, enhance performance, and reduce socially harmful behaviors. Establishing a culture of health and well-being at work creates an environment where employees feel valued, supported, and stimulated to perform at their best in work they find meaningful.”

Further: “Even in a workplace with a strong culture of health, mental health problems will inevitably arise, and in this situation employers should support their workers who seek help. Establishing and maintaining healthy workplace cultures can prevent tragedies from occurring and encourage those in distress to benefit from evidence-based interventions unencumbered by the stigma associated with care seeking.”