Inspire Change with Compassionate Workplace Mental Health Training for a Happier, Healthier Team
Traditional workplace issues typically center around safety and productivity, but as the working culture only seems more demanding, it takes a toll on mental health.
Stress, anxiety, and depression no longer silently sabotage productivity or erode team dynamics and instead open up opportunities for communication and support. Mental health training and employee assistance programs (EAPs) allow companies to intervene early, spread awareness, and give employees a safe place to turn to.
By recognizing the link between well-being and overall efficiency, forward-thinking workplaces have made changes to address the increasing burnout among employees and implement mental health training.
If you want to join them at the top, keep reading to understand the importance of mental health training and how you can begin to implement it in your company.
Common Mental Health Issues in the Workplace
Sadly, a significant portion of the workforce (link) struggle with mental health, and this doesn’t magically go away once they sit down at their desk. Whether caused by their workplace or were already experiencing it, here are some of the most common mental health issues you will come across as a company.
Unsurprisingly, stress is one of the most common mental health issues that employees face, no matter their industry. Excessive workloads, strict deadlines, and long hours all contribute to stress.
If this is not treated, the consequences of excessive stress are detrimental to the employee and the company. A decrease in productivity and high turnover rates are warning signs of a mental health crisis.
Stress can also manifest physically as headaches, fatigue, and digestive problems, which increase sick days and absenteeism, further contributing to the fall in productivity. Untreated stress is also found to open the doors to other issues such as burnout, anxiety, and depression.
Someone who has been pushed too hard for too long can experience burnout. It is accompanied by extreme fatigue, brain fog, and irritability.
Once someone suffers from burnout, it tends to be a long road to get back on track. This is because it’s categorized by extreme emotional and mental exhaustion, which takes the body a long time to recover from such depletion and breaks down self-esteem.
After grinding for so long to meet unrealistic targets, it’ll feel alien to slow down, but it’s the only way to rebalance employee mental health.
As you can imagine, many areas of the role they once excelled at are forgone. Burnout causes decreased productivity and strained work relationships, resulting in a fractured company dynamic.
Excessive worry and a sense of unease are anxiety symptoms and impact an employee’s ability to function at their full potential almost impossible. It can stem from work-related factors such as interpersonal conflicts, tight deadlines, and fear of failure.
Creativity, solving complex problems, and staying engaged are big challenges when stuck in this frame of mind. Moreover, companies that are passive about mental well-being will give prompt warnings instead of support, which only adds fuel to the fire.
Symptoms of workplace anxiety typically include restlessness, irritability, difficulty concentrating, and physical signs like panic attacks. It’s a vicious cycle as anxiety hinders job performance which then causes negative feelings to increase.
Feeling stressed and anxious at your job can lead to overwhelming hopelessness. You may feel like there is no light at the end of the tunnel, and no matter how hard you work, you never catch a break; this can have a huge impact on many aspects of the workplace.
Depression hinders cognitive function and concentration, resulting in poor productivity. If they are reprimanded by management, this will make feelings of low-self worth that are common with depression much worse.
Unlike the previous mental health conditions we have mentioned, depression is the only one that cannot be cured completely and will stay with people forever.
With the right resources and support, people can learn how to cope with it and prevent it from getting in the way of day-to-day life. This makes it more challenging to handle as a company, but it makes a huge improvement with the right initiatives.
This type of mental health issue does not have as much awareness as others but is likely more common than expected. Insomnia and sleep apnea lead to many workplace challenges due to chronic lack of sleep.
Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to treat and, if left to get worse, can lead to serious health issues like obesity and heart problems. These can lead to increased healthcare costs for both individuals and organizations.
Living with extreme cases of fatigue affects problem-solving and memory, two very important characteristics for employees to have, especially in senior roles. Errors are more common, putting the whole company at risk of serious consequences.
The Impact of Poor Mental Health in the Workplace
Your company’s success depends on your workers, and if they are experiencing mental health challenges, the whole company will suffer. Here are some examples.
If employees are struggling mentally, it’s only a matter of time before their productivity at work takes a hit.
Depression, anxiety, and stress make it challenging to focus on tasks, even if they are relatively simple. A combination of worry, lack of motivation, and intrusive thoughts cloud the mind, leading to an overall drop in efficiency.
In some cases, if they are not given support, employees with mental health issues can turn to substance abuse to cope, which is detrimental to health and work performance.
Poor Work Quality
As well as missing deadlines, poor mental health dramatically impacts the quality of work. Motivation and job satisfaction suffer as employees lose interest in what they were once passionate about, resulting in decreased effort and substandard performance.
It’s typical for creativity to dwindle, which also plays a big part in a drop in work quality in industries such as marketing, entertainment, and graphic design.
Low Employee Retention
Workers with mental illness issues can feel dissatisfied with their role due to a lack of support, unrealistic expectations, or inadequate resources. This mixture of circumstances can lead to looking elsewhere for proactive organizations with mental health first aid (MHFA) training programs.
Mental health problems and high-stress levels are a perfect storm for burnout and exhaustion. Unfortunately, this leaves them with no other choice but to quit if they are not getting support.
Negative Work Environment
When employees aren’t feeling their best, it shows in how they conduct themselves, treat others, and their work performance. Teamwork will suffer, relationships will fracture, and absence will rise, which greatly impacts company culture.
All of this leads to a negative work environment. They may also resent those who are supposed to support them, such as managers and human resources.
The absence of mental health support and a workplace culture that doesn’t support employee communication creates a tense atmosphere and isolation for those hesitant to speak up. Organizations need to have a positive work environment; if not, it can lead to:
Decreased job satisfaction
Stress and burnout
Most workplaces provide healthcare coverage for mental health conditions and often call for treatment such as therapy and medication, adding up to a lot of long-term money. This is especially detrimental to company finances if nothing is being done to prevent these issues from happening in the first place.
Combining this with the previous points we covered, like decreased productivity, poor work quality, and low employee retention, it’s inevitable that the whole company will suffer financially.
Benefits of Workplace Mental Health Training
There are countless benefits of workplace mental health training; in fact, the only negative side is the financial investment. However, you will find that after looking after your employees, their well-being will increase, and your company will thrive.
Promotes Intervention and Spreads Awareness
By implementing mental health training in the workplace, you are taking big strides in spreading awareness. Intervening also prevents mental health struggles from snowballing and causing further detriment to the individual and the company.
Intervention methods teach people to identify the early warning signs of mental health issues and what actions to follow. This knowledge helps employees and managers recognize when someone is experiencing mental health concerns and reduce stigma in general.
To look after your employees and be up to date with how you can help, add these 10 employee engagement books to your reading list.
Enhanced Productivity and Performance
When employees feel supported and have ready access to mental health resources, they can focus on their job at hand. With stress, depression, anxiety, etc., in check, concentration, and engagement in the role improves, which are both essential ingredients in a productive member of the team.
As well as this, with the whole team feeling balanced, professional and personal relationships will remain strong and enable clear, respectful communication throughout the whole team.
Increased Employee Retention
With a supportive environment, enhanced job satisfaction, and mental health resources, employees are more inclined to stay at the company. It can be debilitating when stress and burnout have taken hold of an individual; it leaves no other choice but to quit before they are fired in unfortunate cases.
It also demonstrates strong, supportive leadership when mental health training is implemented in the workplace and reassures workers that future challenges and requests will be proactively tackled. Here are 9 ways that employers can improve employee retention and build trust.
Positive Work Culture
When all of the above factors come into play, it makes for a very positive work culture. Many benefits come with having a positive work culture; it is the gift that keeps on giving. It directly influences overall success and promotes employee well-being and psychological safety by prioritizing their mental and physical health.
As internal operations thrive, it transcends to the external view of others. The company’s reputation improves and therefore encourages other valuable talents in the industry to reach out and join the team.
For insight on surefire ways to make your work environment a positive place and encourage healthy mindsets, read these 9 ideas.
Implementing Effective Mental Health Training Programs
Even though there are a plethora of benefits to implementing mental health training programs in the workplace, it is an ongoing process and requires lots of attention to get right. Every team is different, and one program is not guaranteed to work for all. Here is what you should know about the process to fully understand how involved it is.
Assess Mental Health Needs
As we mentioned, every team has different needs. If you do not adhere to them, you might as well scrap the training program altogether.
Make use of surveys, interviews, and focus groups to get information about your employees’ feelings. Are they stressed? Do they feel overworked? Are there any internal conflicts? These are some of the questions that will get to the bottom of what needs to be fixed.
Collaborate With Experts
It is paramount that you work closely with mental health experts. Approaching the training with limited knowledge or incorrect practices can do more harm than good.
Conduct extensive research to identify those with experience in workplace mental health training. They must answer your questions, provide evidence-based methods, and establish a content plan with your company in mind.
Throughout the entire program development, it is recommended that the company keeps in close contact and provides consistent feedback on its effectiveness. This ensures that the content, goals, and activities can be adjusted at any given time.
Provide Thorough Manager Training
Training managers in identifying the first signs of mental health issues is important, but teaching them how to approach and open up the dialogue with those who are struggling is even more so.
They must demonstrate empathy and proactively provide support to suit their individual needs. Someone who is already struggling with self-worth and hopelessness will be more vulnerable to mockery or disregard toward their situation. Therefore, thorough manager training is vital to give them the correct toolkit for all circumstances.
Companies must also ensure managers are not biting off more than they can chew. For example, if they are surrounded by those asking for help and feel unequipped to help all of them, it can take a toll on their mental health.
Emphasizing the importance of self-care and work-life balance will allow managers to take a step back when they need one and look after themselves.
Incorporate Interactive and Experimental Training
To make training enjoyable as well as educational, implementing interactive methods both in-person and through messaging makes it much more engaging for everyone involved. It also helps retain useful information and fosters an environment where people feel they can ask for further help or guidance.
Through group discussions, simulations, and activities, complex mental health education can be explained in a more comprehensible way. As well as this, organizations can create a healthy workplace by supporting managers in their roles.
Evaluate the Impact
After all the time and hard work put into implementing mental health training, the most important part is evaluating its success. It helps establish future decision-making and return on investment (ROI), as training programs usually charge per head, and this adds up quickly.
Measuring the Success of Mental Health Training
When companies fail to measure the success of their mental health training, they miss opportunities to improve, take accountability, and completely understand their employees’ needs.
There are many ways that the impact of training programs can be measured; here are some typical methods.
Training Assessments: One of the most effective ways to measure the success of any training program is by conducting assessments before and after training has taken place. It highlights changes in attitudes, knowledge, and mental health awareness.
Surveys: Use surveys to gather feedback on what people thought of the training. For example, ask if they found it educational, and accessible, and if there is anything they would change next time. To get the most out of the feedback, make the questions open-ended.
Case Studies: There is a lot of information to be gathered from case studies and success stories from those who have experienced the impact of your training firsthand. They demonstrate specific instances of improved mental health and how it benefits the overall workplace environment. You can collect case studies via interviews, surveys, and testimonials.
Review Incidents: It is unrealistic to expect new training programs to go smoothly; it is a learning curve and takes time to adapt. This doesn’t mean that incidents such as substance use should be disregarded but taken seriously and thoroughly documented.
To conclude, empowering employees through compassionate workplace mental health training is crucial for a happier, healthier team.
By addressing common mental health issues like stress, anxiety, and depression, companies can improve productivity, work quality, and overall work culture.
Mental health initiatives also help spread awareness of mental health, and if the correct measuring methods are put in place, they will continue to serve the organization for many years to come.
Louis Carter is the founder and CEO of Best Practice Institute, Most Loved Workplace, and Results-Based Culture. Author of In Great Company, Change Champions Field Guide, and Best Practices in Talent Management, as well as a series of Leadership Development books. He is a trusted strategic advisor and coach to CEOs, CHROs, and leaders of mid-sized to F500 companies – enabling change and steering employer brand development together with highly effective teams, leaders, and organizations as a whole.