6 Reasons Good Mental Health Is Great for Business

Mental illness appears to be on the rise in much of the world. And the old arguments of we’re just better at diagnosing it these days and we don’t have the proper mental health infrastructure yet to some degree no longer apply – even the Netherlands, which has one of the most innovative mental health systems in the world, has reported a marked rise in mental illness cases in recent years.

 

While mental health has long been thought of as a public health problem, its insidious effects are felt in the private sector too. Workers with mental health problems inevitably bring their challenges to the office, and how an organisation deals with such issues can have a pronounced effect on its success. According to this Deloitte report, one in six workers is likely to be suffering from a mental health condition. That means that over 30 million of Europe’s 188 million employees are currently impeded in their work. The figure is around 7.5 million in Germany alone, with almost 5 million more workers affected in the UK.

 

The best approach to your employees’ mental health is a proactive one. By developing a strategy that promotes good mental health within your organisation, you’ll enjoy a wealth of benefits. What are these benefits? Let’s take a look at six of the most pronounced.

Mental wellbeing affects turnover

 

When do you work at your best? When you’re happy and engaged, or when you’re upset and distracted? Logically, happy and engaged people, unencumbered by chronic mental health issues (or perhaps simply managing them with the help of their employer), make better workers. And with better workers comes a better bottom line.

This study of ten large businesses found that more than any other health issue, including obesity, arthritis and muscle or joint pain, depression had the greatest financial impact on employers. But this isn’t a case of spending money on your employees wellbeing – this is an investment. One UK paper found that based on a company with 500 employees, an investment of £20,676 in mental health over a two year period will result in a net profit of approximately £83,278. If we purely look at the numbers, taking a proactive approach to mental health simply makes business sense.

 

Good mental health improves productivity

 

Studies have found a direct link between the severity of mental health conditions and a loss in productivity. This one, for example, measured the severity of depression with a PHQ9 score (the higher the score, the more severe the condition), and found that with every one point increase in depression, there was a two percent loss in productivity. The phenomenon of being at work but not being able to work even has a name – presenteeism.

And this doesn’t even factor in the days taken off by those with mental health issues. If your workplace is a source of stress rather than comfort for someone struggling with mental health, they are very likely to take as many sick and personal days as possible. One group of researchers working with World Health Organisation data found that depression can see the equivalent of 27 days lost every year through presenteeism and absenteeism.

Put simply, being proactive in your organisation’s approach to mental health results in far greater productivity, improving your bottom line.

 

We’re moving towards a knowledge economy

 

Artificial intelligence, machine learning, big data; automation is coming, and more and more jobs will be handed from man to machine. This will see the meat and bone workforce transitioning from tasks that are monotonous and laborious to tasks that require more critical and analytical thinking – the type that machines simply won’t be able to do.

Unfortunately, neither will those adversely affected by a mental health condition. Creative, analytical and methodical work requires a sharp, unobstructed mind. By developing your organisation’s mental health strategies now, you’re future-proofing your organisation, allowing team members to better transition to high value work without being hindered by their mental health.

 

A mentally healthy team is a cohesive team

 

In this study, half of all workers with an anxiety disorder reported that it interfered with their relationships with co-workers. It almost goes without saying that team dynamics are adversely affected by mental health – those suffering from a condition are less likely to involve themselves in collaborative activities, and the productivity and creativity of the entire group drops off as a result.

People who enjoy the support of their employer are less likely to suffer in silence, and will be more cohesive and collaborative as a result.

 

It creates a more positive and desirable culture

 

Further to the effects on office relationships, the culture of your organisation stands to seriously benefit from the implementation of a comprehensive mental health strategy. Good mental health encourages people to work well individually and as a team, and this is reflected in the culture of the company.

With utilities like Glassdoor charting employee satisfaction in real time, supporting your team and developing a fun and collaborative culture can see your organisation becoming destination employer for top talent.

 

Employee mental health is a legal responsibility

 

As an employer you have a duty of care to your workers, and it’s one that you no doubt take seriously. But while the physical side of this duty is obvious – ensuring all precautions have been taken to make the work environment safe and reduce the likelihood of accidents – the mental side is far less tangible, and can therefore be overlooked.

It’s vital that you take this mental duty of care just as seriously as the physical duty of care, not least because companies have a legal responsibility to do so. The EU Framework Directive on Health and Safety at Work of 1989 provides an overview of basic responsibilities, although these will vary from country to country.

So being proactive in your approach to mental health is not only good for the happiness and wellbeing of your team and your organisation’s bottom line, it also avoids costly litigation.

Organisational mental health strategies work. The American Center for Workplace Health found that 80% of employees who were treated for mental health conditions reported improvements in both productivity and job satisfaction.

So with all these benefits in mind, ask yourself: are you doing all that you can to care for the mental wellbeing of your employees? Perhaps it’s time to examine your current efforts, and identify ways that you could improve the health of your team, and your organisation as a whole.

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