Is how your company handles mental health a dealbreaker?

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Mental health in the workplace continues to be a tricky situation. While workers and bosses continue to make strides in addressing and working around the stigma, much remains to be desired, especially from the employee’s perspective.

Whether it’s stress or anxiety, most young adult workers admitted their mental health impacts their job performance and it’s becoming a driver and decider in quitting a job or making a career change, according to new research.

An international study conducted by Teladoc Health found that more than half of Millennial workers said mental health symptoms affected their job performance. In a study that interviewed nearly 4,000 participants between 18-65 years old from the US, United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia, mental health is on the minds, especially for Millennial workers.

Sixty-seven percent of Millennial workers said they worried about their mental health, while nearly half — 47% — of all respondents admitted the same. Millennials were most likely to express feelings of burnout and stress from either working too often or never stop working, compared to any other generation.

One of the study’s most troubling findings was that 82% of people who are diagnosed with mental health issues didn’t feel comfortable telling their management because more than a quarter of respondents felt their place of work didn’t take mental health issues seriously.

How mental health affects work

If an employee thinks they are the only person in the office suffering, they are not alone.

A separate survey from Mind Share Partners examined mental health issues at the workplace, especially honing in on the different kinds workers suffer from and how it impacts workflow.

The survey polled 1,500 people over age 16 to find out what symptoms they may have experienced like sweating or an upset stomach. Researchers wanted to see how it impacted workers’ output and whether they had the resources at the office to support them.

They found that more than half reported so. Nearly 60% of respondents reported experiencing at least one symptom of a mental health condition in the past year, according to the study’s findings.

The most common symptoms were anxiety, feeling tired or losing interest in most actives for at least two weeks, and becoming more body-conscious whether through dieting, fasting, or binging.

While it could read as a one-sided fight, workers struggling with mental health admitted it hurt their production at work. Sixty-one percent said their productivity was altered due to their illnesses. The most common response by respondents was difficulty concentrating, avoiding social activities, difficulty thinking or deciding, and taking longer to do tasks.

How do employees with mental illness handle their struggles? Some just quit.

Twenty percent of respondents had voluntarily left roles in the past for mental health reasons. 50% of millennials and 75% of Gen Z-ers had left roles for mental health reasons, both voluntarily and involuntarily.

What can organizations do to help address mental health?

Change the company culture

It starts at the top, according to the Harvard Business Review.

Organizations can help their employees who struggle with mental health in multiple ways, but it starts with changing the company’s culture. Try switching leaders into allies by encouraging higher-ups like executive members and managers to share experiences during all-hands meetings.

The Harvard Business Review also noted how the CEO has a massive role in making this transition. CEOs should be supportive and help build overall company acceptance.

Get educated

Training employees and managers to learn how to spot and navigate mental health around the office. While it’s not conducive to turn managers into therapists, there should be a platform that allows employees to have conversations they might be hesitant about regarding mental health conditions. Although a company is one big group, every employee is an individual and perhaps each requires their own plan to a healthier lifestyle.

Provide resources that help

Companies should office mental health benefits and allow employees to know they are available. Address policies, especially to new hires, can help while talking about it throughout the year can help reintroduce it to some who may have forgotten. The report also suggests administering anonymous surveys to current employees to see their engagement levels.