Today, businesses hear more than ever about mental health in the workplace. Yet businesses are often unsure what role they have to play in fostering wellness among their employees – if one at all. However, one doctor has claimed the mental health problem is far too costly for employers to ignore, and that a proactive approach is cheaper, and more effective, than doing nothing.
Speaking at the 2018 Australian Rehabilitation Providers Association (ARPA) national conference, Dr Tyler Amell said poor mental health was negatively affecting businesses bottom lines through heightened absenteeism, physical health deterioration, and lost productivity.
Amell said mental health was now the leading cause of work disability worldwide. It’s estimated that the direct costs from this along with lost potential earnings will cost the global economy $23 trillion by 2030.
Amell said that instead of scrambling into action after a crisis, employers” need to be more proactive in supporting employees with appropriate tools and resources before it hits.”
“Prevention provides results. Preventative strategies include assessing who might be at risk of mental health illness, talking about it with your team to reduce stigma and making sure leaders have appropriate training to help colleagues in need before a crisis occurs.”
“It’s about planting the seed for improved resilience and being better prepared for any future work disability risk.”
Where can businesses improve?
1. Use Technology
Amell said that in the last three years, there had been an “explosion of apps to support mental health.”
“Psychometric tools, stress heat-maps and wellness gamification modules have proven to help teams to switch off, receive advice discreetly and build their resilience.”
“If you are not already, make sure you are giving your team access to digital tools, dashboards, resilience monitors or wellbeing apps so they can monitor their own mental health.”
2. Monitor and Report
“Encourage your managers to report how many days they lose to stress-related sickness and absences each year.”
“Real time absence reporting gives organisations greater visibility of their teams’ health and can influence when leaders might step in, thereby improving early intervention. The internal data gathered from this reporting can also provide the evidence to invest in worker health and productivity programs. “