Mental Health Awareness Month: It’s Okay to Get Help

May 31st, 2023 by Travis Rains

Regardless of whether you’re a large door and window manufacturer, a Fortune 500 business or a mom-and-pop operation, the well-being of your company’s employees directly impacts business. But did you know that one in five people experience mental health problems yearly? This is according to the World Economic Forum (WEF), which sought to explain why it makes good business sense for companies to “look after” employees’ mental health. Mental health problems are widespread and, according to WEF, “workplace initiatives designed to promote good mental health among employees can provide firms with a measurable return on their investment. That is, they are likely to recoup any money they spend.”

A separate report published by Gallup on the “State of the Global Workplace” found that 60% of people reported being emotionally detached at work, while 19% were miserable.

In the U.S., 50% of workers reported feeling stressed at their jobs on a daily basis, 41% as being worried, 22% as sad and 18% as angry. The report indicates workers’ unhappiness stems largely from how they are coached, managed and treated. Another crucial factor is the stigma behind mental health, says Dustin Anderson, president of Anderson Glass in Waco, Texas, and co-founder of The Alone Effect Inc.

“There’s a stigma that goes along with vulnerability,” says Anderson. “You won’t get your average blue-collar workers to admit they’re struggling. It doesn’t matter if you say, ‘Hey, are you okay?’ The answer is going to be, ‘Yes.’ Even if they’re not.”

That stigma often comes from a lack of understanding or fear, reports the American Psychiatric Association. People will avoid or delay treatment because they fear losing their jobs and livelihood. A report in The Lancet found that “while the public may accept the medical or genetic nature of a mental health disorder and the need for treatment, many people still have a negative view of those with mental illness.”

That’s a problem, especially if those looking down on workers are executives, says Anderson. Executives must foster a welcoming atmosphere that embraces open dialogue, enabling employees to feel comfortable discussing problems.

“The biggest thing is knowing your employees on a level other than your basic employer/employee relationship so that you can know what’s going on with their lives,” says Anderson. “You can find out really quick when you have a conversation with an employee about their life. This includes their financial situation, time away from work and work-related stress. You have employees that take work home no matter what. They’re thinking about that installation tomorrow or being yelled at on the jobsite. Those things are all impactful. An open-door policy, and not just saying you have an open-door policy, is huge.”

Research conducted by WEF found that if an organization actively promotes good mental health and provides support, it is more likely to benefit financially. Interventions come in various forms, including cognitive behavioral therapy. Evidence supports that involving occupational health professionals effectively reduces sick leave and encourages people to return to work after a substantial leave of absence.

One of the keys is finding the right therapist, says Anderson. The sessions don’t even have to occur in a physical location. Anderson explains that his relationship with his therapist happened remotely following a chance meeting. However, different people have different preferences. They just need to take the first step.

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