Mental health: Create a culture of prevention

Feeling stressed-out at work is something almost everyone has experienced at one time or another. However, if left unaddressed, it can have a profound effect on the productivity of an organization and the mental well-being of its employees.

According to a recent survey conducted by Harris Interactive and Everest College, 83 percent of Americans are stressed by at least one thing at work.1 Although that may seem like a difficult number to overcome, a resilient organization with a variety of prevention strategies can be less susceptible to mental health issues.

Implementing or referring employees to a wellness program, like an EAP, can help some employees manage stress, but in other instances, this approach may not be enough. A corporate culture that takes an active approach to eliminate stressors and trains associates to identify signs of employee distress can pay off for an employer.

Of course, every organization is different and will rely on unique prevention strategies. When determining how you’ll build a resilient corporate culture, keep these considerations in mind:

  • Make your organization’s values, missions and ethics explicit and clear. What does a mission statement have to do with the mental health of employees? A lot, actually. This is the perfect opportunity for your company to express value for people and communities, to align business goals with various roles and to create a system for follow-through. Give your employees a mission to believe in.
  • Link employee mental health with overall organizational health. Are your key employees leaving? Not meeting their goals or lacking engagement? These trends in the health of your organization can be red flags for the health of your employees. Watch for these indicators.
  • Improve communication throughout your company. Encourage your HR team and managers to engage in face-to-face communication with employees. This will enhance trust and help employees not feel isolated or alone during an illness. You also can invest in training to prepare your workforce to handle emotionally charged conversations.
  • Be flexible with your intervention methods. Hopefully, your organization already has a process for assessing issues and intervening when an employee has a health problem. But remember, approaches such as fit-for-duty assessments may not work well when dealing with an emotional health issue. Be prepared to adjust as needed.
  • Watch out for silos of care. Often, mental health issues can overlap with physical conditions. Early intervention methods can help make these connections and ensure your employees receive the correct, holistic care.
  • Challenge and celebrate your employees. Purposeful, meaningful work that challenges employees will build confidence in your workforce. When your employees fulfill these challenges, commemorate their accomplishments.

Reduced stress in an organization can be achieved when there’s a culture of prevention. Use these considerations to determine which prevention strategies are right for your organization and employees.

Interested in more tips on preventing mental health disability leaves in your workplace? Download The Standard’s newest white paper, Productivity Insight #4 — Behavioral Health And the Workplace: Productivity Costs And Solutions.


1Corinthian College, Inc. Workplace Stress on the Rise With 83% of Americans Frazzled by Something at Work. Accessed April 29, 2013.

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