THERE are more workers who miss work (absenteeism), and even when at work do not perform optimally (presenteeism), because of depression and mental illness than because of physical illness or injury, a World Health Organization study finds. The same study cites that job burnout, lack of motivation, bullying and psychological harassment, as well as anxiety, are the commonly reported causes of work-related stress.
Risk factors present in the working environment include poor communication and management practices, limited participation in decision-making or low control over one’s area of work and, more important, low levels of support for employees.
Case in point, even with high-profile mental-health campaigns growing in pockets of corporate offices over the last decade, poor mental health continues to persevere because it is still considered as a taboo subject among organizations which continue to dismiss those struggling with its conditions, as reported in a previous article on BusinessMirror (bit.ly/2kWg0HK).
As a result, poor mental health costs the global economy $1 trillion each year in lost productivity and increased staff turnover, which refers to the percentage of workers who leave an organization and are replaced by new employees. Other consequences include increased rates of short-term disability, safety incidents and stress imposed on other team members because of overtime overstaffing to cover sick-day absences.
A core part of improving the mental well-being of employees, according to public relations practitioner Nana Nadal, is to encourage a growing openness about mental health. Only recently, she partnered with The Mind Museum in organizing a talk tackling mental health in the workplace, titled “Mind at Work.”
The first part of the discussion, led by Dr. Robert Buenaventura of the UERM Department of Psychiatry, touched on how mental-health interventions should be delivered as part of an integrated health and well-being strategy that covers prevention, early identification, support and rehabilitation.
He suggested regular or emergency consultations with mental-health professionals with private office space, annual mental-health checkups and immediate referral to those who need it, inclusion of mental and neurological care in HMO coverage, and involvement of the Department of Labor and Employment to audit implementation of mental-health programs and policies, as well as tax breaks for companies with such programs. Buenaventura stressed that countries need to invest more in mental-health services, as every $1 invested in scaling up treatment for depression and anxiety leads to a return of $4 in better health and ability to work.
Meanwhile, Jo Ann Rosary Asetre, a career management consultant and the managing director of Lee Hecht Harrison Philippines, said that maintaining a personal support network, and accessing personal, organizational and community resources can help employees in times of burnout.
Tracking their stressors, practicing meditation and taking time to recharge, in addition to establishing boundaries (setting time for yourself instead of being available 24/7), are also some crucial steps in managing stress.