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Human Resources

Mental Health Concerns in the Workplace

Tonya Fletcher SPHR, SHRM-SCP
by Tonya Fletcher SPHR, SHRM-SCP on April 8, 2021

No workplace is immune to mental health concerns. 2020 was a challenging year and COVID-19 fatigue is a current challenge that workers are experiencing. Employees are tired of the pandemic and just want it to be over. Employers are trying to keep workers motivated, resilient, and productive as they continue to think about the wellbeing of their employees.

Mental health concerns include depression, grief, anxiety, stress, workaholism and burnout, and can affect the workplace in a variety of different ways, regardless of whether employees are working onsite or remotely.

Poor employee mental health can lead to:

  • Increased absences and costs
  • Reduced job performance
  • Strained relationships with co-workers
  • Increased turnover
  • A higher likelihood of workplace accidents

Additionally, where there is poor employee well-being, the organization can face an increased risk of litigation including claims of disability discrimination and workers' compensation.

Laws

An employer needs to be aware of and comply with employment laws that might apply when an employee is dealing with mental health challenges. Such laws include the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and other state or local laws. Not just physical health but mental health impairments are covered under the ADA and FMLA.

Managers

Managers are central to building a healthy workplace. Strengthen the ability of managers to cultivate well-being among their team by helping them to build a supportive culture and management style (and employers should also be mindful of manager burnout and stress). A manager can respond sensitively to workers' concerns and may recognize when an employee is having more than just a "bad day". A manager can help refer a worker to other sources of help and support.

Benefits

Employer-sponsored health care benefits are an important piece of total compensation and may be invaluable to an employee suffering from a mental health issue. An Employee Assistance Program (EAP) helps employees, and often their families, cope with stressful situations and common benefits include assistance with financial issues, alcohol and drug abuse, and child and elder care concerns. EAPs can also provide guidance to managers on how to handle behavioral problems and when the EAP should be recommended to an employee. Providing learning opportunities and professional development to employees can assist with needed skills and job engagement. Many employers also offer paid time off (PTO) to employees and give some sort of flexible work arrangements which are important to mental health.

Mental health concerns, including depression, anxiety, and burnout, can affect the workplace. Employers can take steps to fight COVID-19 fatigue and promote wellbeing while minimizing workplace risk. Encouraging work-life balance, fostering inclusion and communication, and promoting the resources and benefits available to employees are important steps.

FrankCrum offers many helpful benefits including an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). For more information about offering an EAP to your employees, contact the FrankCrum Benefits Department at 1-800-393-0815, option 8 and a Benefits Representative will be happy to help you!

 

Tonya Fletcher SPHR, SHRM-SCP
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tonya Fletcher SPHR, SHRM-SCP

Tonya is the Labor Compliance Manager at FrankCrum. In this role, she leads the FrankAdvice team and manages the delivery and content of best practice information to client owners and managers regarding all types of employment related topics. When she’s not at work, Tonya enjoys international travel.