The pandemic has created undo stress on working families with more than eighty percent of workers reporting worry about their mental health, a figure that is nearly double the number of workers who are concerned about their physical health. (1)
Economic concerns, more time spent working, changing information and misinformation regarding vaccines, loss of enjoyable activities or hobbies due to isolation, and an increase in substance abuse to cope are all cited as reasons workers are struggling. For working parents, the added toll of remote schooling and ever-changing schedules is causing enormous frustration and stress.
Many employees are unwilling to discuss their mental health because their companies have not normalized conversations around well-being. But severe declines in mental health can’t be masked for long. Some of the signs of an employee who may be struggling:
Companies should be investing in training managers about the signs and symptoms of a mental health problem. Many companies are now regularly conducting Pulse Surveys (2) to assess the stress and anxiety levels of employees. In addition, the combined tool of ConnectedMind/Beyond Well allows each employee to self-screen for mental health vulnerabilities. The user is given direct, non-stigmatized information regarding their results and potential next steps for treatment and help. All of this is accomplished without interference by a supervisor or boss, who may not be properly trained in supporting an employee with a mental health issue.
Mental health concerns are unlike other performance-related issues and must be approached with care. You must be empathetic to the person’s concerns, issues, and personal problems without attempting to solve or interfere in their lives. It is crucial to provide your employee with the space and freedom to express themselves and speak openly and to gage whether there is undue pressure at work that is causing the decline in mental health. Learning to empathize, practice active listening, and provide referral and support are not skills many managers are trained to do. Beyond Well works one-on-one with your teams to learn the soft skills needed in today’s hybrid/remote/on-site environments.
Every employee has the right to seek help if they are willing. This can be accomplished via employee assistance programs, paid time off, or private health insurance coverage. Managers should be trained in the benefits/shortcomings of each choice, including the long waiting lists and high deductibles of many programs. Encouraging the employee to discover more about their symptoms and behavioral challenges with Beyond Well’s library of podcasts, guest-hosted by a team of psychologists, psychiatrists, counselors, and social workers.
Every employee should download a copy of their free Connected Mind screening report to discuss any concerns with a physician or counselor. While most health insurance programs provide coverage for mental health-related prescriptions, treatments, and therapies, it is essential for employees to engage with human resources to understand all work-provided options and benefits. Many employees are wary of engaging with HR due to fear that they could be discriminated against, demoted, or fired. Managers need to provide assurance regarding federal protections for people suffering from mental health challenges.
Screening: Take A Screening Now
Podcasts: Listen Now
Sheila Hamilton is a five-time Emmy award winning journalist and the author of All the Things We Never Knew, Chasing the Chaos of Mental Illness. She is CEO of Beyond Well Media and host of Spotify’s fastest growing mental health podcast, Beyond Well With Sheila Hamilton.