6 August 2018
How can employers promote mental health at work?
Mental wellbeing is integral to the health and functioning of the workforce, the compromise of which can have serious social and financial ramifications - but what actions can employers take to promote mental wellbeing?
Why should employers promote mental wellbeing at work?
In the UK and US, 470 million workdays are lost each year due to poor mental health, costing employers an estimated $225.8 billion per annum1. The majority of these costs are attributed to presenteeism: the loss of productivity for employees affected by a mental health condition. This would indicate that many employees are either unwilling or unable to say that they are struggling at work and receive adequate assistance, at least partly because of the work environment itself.
With these staggering statistics in mind, promoting mental health at work is critical to good business performance in terms of both addressing the stigma surrounding the conversation and stimulating productivity. But how can employers feasibly make this happen?
How can employers promote mental wellbeing at work?
Here we will specifically focus on enacting the sixth advisory on the Thriving at Work review “Routinely monitor employee mental health and wellbeing” 2.
Annual physicals are the norm for many workplace healthcare programmes, so why not acknowledge the contributions of mental health in the workplace and incorporate a wellbeing assessment into the annual healthcare check-up?
This strategy has multiple benefits, including:
1. Positive, proactive steps to acknowledging and promoting mental wellbeing in the workplace creates an environment in which employees can thrive.
2. Annual checks allow for the early detection of strain, and deviation from each person’s ‘norm’, thus improving the chances of delivering personalised mediation before the issues develop. This not only has benefits for employee health but can also reduce absenteeism and the impact of presenteeism in the workplace.
3. Incorporating the assessment into an annual physical both acknowledges the seriousness of mental wellbeing, as well as placing it on a par with physical health. This helps to normalise the situation and battle some of the stigma which surrounds mental health: breaking down a significant barrier to people seeking treatment.
How can technology improve the promotion of mental wellbeing at work?
Cambridge Cognition technologies have been used to improve brain health research for over 30 years, contributing to over 2,000 leading clinical studies worldwide. This experience has been put into the development of CANTAB BrainHealth: new software designed specifically for use in the workplace to assess mental wellbeing.
CANTAB BrainHealth draws on decades of research to objectively measure mental wellbeing and workplace skills, such as concentration and planning, which are typically affected when people are struggling at work. This digital wellbeing assessment tool can detect impairments before symptoms show, helping to take action early.
Performance is mapped against healthy data with guidance and advice provided by health professionals in an instantly available and easy to interpret report. Importantly, the software tracks health over time to monitor progress, aiding improvement and recovery.
The objective mood and cognition assessments are sensitive to the potential presence of an underlying mental health condition, facilitating early intervention before productivity and performance are impacted. The result is not only good for a company's bottom line, it promotes a workplace culture of care that has the potential of reducing the costs of absenteeism, presenteeism and high staff turnover.
Dr Jenny Brockis, an independent brain health and workplace performance consultant
Promoting mental wellbeing is integral to maintaining the population’s overall health. Workplace stress is a significant risk factor for poor mental health, the triggering of which has substantial financial and operational ramifications. With this in mind, employers have a duty to promote mental wellbeing in the workplace – but how? Here we have presented CANTAB BrainHealth as a digital monitoring tool, which could revolutionize annual health check-ups.
1. World Federation for Mental Health (2017). WMHD Mental Health in the Workplace Report
2. Stevenson, D., & Farmer, P. (2017). Thriving at work: The independent review of mental health and employers
By Sally Jennings