Many U.S. companies have seen a surge of interest in employee mental wellness in recent years, especially post-pandemic. Despite greater awareness, however, 1 in 5 employees rate their mental health as “fair” or “poor,” and report 4 times as many unplanned absences from work due to poor mental wellness than their colleagues who report “good” or “excellent” mental health. Over the course of a year, employees with poor or fair mental health accrue nearly 12 days of unplanned absences, compared with 2.5 days for all other workers. This missed work is estimated to cost the economy a staggering $47.6 billion in lost productivity each year.

The most common mental wellness issues experienced by employees are depression and anxiety (the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 1 in 3 workers in the U.S. experiences symptoms related to depression or anxiety on any given day), with substance use disorders and stress-related disorders close behind.

Recognize Red Flags

Fortunately, many mental wellness issues have telltale signs that can alert managers and co-workers that something is not quite right and it’s time to reach out. These include:

    • Changes in Behavior: Noticeable changes in work habits, such as decreased productivity, low levels of engagement, missed deadlines or increased absenteeism.
    • Mood Swings: Unexplained mood swings, irritability, or persistent feelings of sadness or anxiety.
    • Physical Symptoms: Changes in eating behaviors or complaints of frequent headaches, stomach aches, or unexplained physical ailments.
    • Social Withdrawal: Avoidance of social interactions, isolation from colleagues or reluctance to participate in team activities.
    • Decline in Personal Care: Neglecting personal hygiene or appearance.
    • Emotional Outbursts: Uncharacteristic outbursts of anger or frustration.
    • Substance Use/Misuse: Signs of alcohol or drug misuse (including pain killers) like smelling of alcohol or marijuana, slurred speech, or unexplained disappearances during work hours.

We may feel embarrassed or even rude by asking a colleague about their well-being. It is easy to say “that’s none of my business,” but being bold (and caring) enough to reach out could save a life. The best way to combat issues of mental wellness in the workplace is communication. Engaging in open conversation dispels stigma, shame, and guilt, and can help begin the healing process.

Check Your Workplace

Is your workplace helping or hindering your employees’ mental wellness? According to a survey by the American Psychological Association, 55% of workers agreed that their employer thinks their workplace environment is a lot mentally healthier than it actually is. Does your workplace possess risk factors associated with poor mental wellness? Consider (and be honest):

#1 Do your employees work long or inflexible hours due to short-staffing from cutbacks or unfilled positions?

#2 Do your employees (especially remote workers) have a clear separation between work and personal time?

#3 Do you respect your employees’ time off and encourage the use of accrued vacation hours?

#4 Do you provide onboarding and ongoing training for the roles employees are expected to fulfill?

#5 Do you provide regular and clear communication from management about tasks, goals or decision-making?

Get Help Giving Help

Recognizing and addressing mental wellness concerns early can lead to improved employee morale, productivity and overall organizational success. Tyfoom helps companies foster open and effective dialogue between managers and employees, reducing stigma and providing support around mental wellness issues.

Together, we can break down barriers, raise awareness and save lives. Start today by scheduling a meeting to speak with a Tyfoom training consultant.