Mental health in the workplace: The final frontier – Daily Herald

Posted: May 12, 2020 at 9:45 am

This post was added by Alex Diaz-Granados

Editors Note: Transform Through Therapy specializes in online group therapy, with a special focus on grief and caregiving. In this series, they will be talking about COVID-19 and the impact it is having on mental health.

We spend most of our time at work. In fact, over the course of our lives, well spend 90,000 hours or one-third of our life at work.

So mental health in the workplace is important. Some people might say vital.

People like James Hadlock, the CEO of BluNovus.

Hadlock offers the first proactive employee program focused on mental health, providing a listening ear, resources or recommendations for further help.

Its a fresh way of looking at how we address mental health and addiction in the workplace because up to this point we really havent done a very good job, Hadlock said.

He believes we can get to a place where everyone can be more open about personal struggles. He gives this analogy of how it typically goes right now:

If someone in your office broke their wrist, theyre likely coming in on Monday, showing off the cast, telling you all the details of the crash, maybe even embellishing a little to make it sound cooler.

But if someone in your office has a breakdown and spends the weekend on suicide watch in the psych ward of the hospital, that person is coming in on Monday and theyre not doing anything, except holding it in and suffering in the silence. Hadlock takes a long pause while sharing this.

Im going about my work and going about my business as best I can, Hadlock said.

If were going to change the narrative around mental health in the workplace, at home, in the world, it starts with being real and authentic and being honest and being open with each other, Hadlock said. And then thats accompanied with no judgment or expectation.

We all deserve to know that we matter and that theres hope.

So what is a proactive employer program?

Hadlock said they looked at national data, and two statistics stuck out.

Some 90% of people with substance abuse disorders will never get help. Only 10% are getting treatment at all.

Some 80% of people with mental illness depression, anxiety, stress, bipolar disorder, etc. dont ever get help.

And the No. 1 reason they dont reach out for help is stigma. That stigma includes concern for their job, engaging in conversation that feels scary and shameful, and there is a lot of guilt and embarrassment, of course.

You cannot wait for someone to raise their hand and say, Hey, Im struggling. You have to create the environment that makes it conducive for people to step in and finally raise their hand, Hadlock said.

Hadlock looks at managers as a key piece to solving this problem. In Hadlocks research, managers are the most important person for employees, but few managers even feel comfortable talking about mental health, and the vast majority of companies said they were not equipped to address mental health.

Hadlocks proactive employer program is giving companies a way to provide assistance to employees before its a crisis, and create an environment where its OK to talk more openly about struggles.

The most damaging thing you can do as it pertains to mental health is nothing, Hadlock said. It creates more stigma, more uneasiness.

Hadlock has six key things companies can do to start creating that open environment.

Its important to lead by example. Humans have emotions, and showing those emotions in the workplace should be part of a regular work day.

Dont let your employees fill in the blanks, particularly when difficult decisions across the company are being made. If youre doing furloughs or layoffs, for example, without honest conversations with employees, people will start imagining their own version of events, and that can have a snowball effect from employee to employee, or from bad to worst-case scenarios. Its better to be upfront because the anticipation can be just as bad, if not worse, mentally.

As management or leadership, make sure you are acknowledging hardships. Understand that there are oftentimes additional challenges outside of work particularly during this period of COVID-19 and then let them know that you understand. This helps people feel OK about letting their guard down and opening up. And when you have a good, open relationship with your employees, you can make sure you are providing any resources you can that they might need.

This is the most important point for Hadlock. In order to be a good and supportive manager, you need to care about your employees as the humans that they are and everything that comes with them more than you care about them as an employee. That genuine concern will be felt by your employees, and the response by employees who are loyal, who trust you and give you the benefit of the doubt, who work hard and produce quality work.

Now, this doesnt mean you get on a meeting that doesnt have a purpose. Hadlock has been conducting meetings once a week that dont have an agenda related to work, but he provides a topic or a reflective question. The reason for these meetings is to bring everyone in the company or on the team together. It allows a space to connect with each other and as individuals. It can also provide an outlet for people.

Whether its through Hadlocks BluNovus or something else, its important that your employees mental health is just as important and cared for as their physical health. Provide resources and services, and then reinforce their existence and give them permission to utilize it. Companies can do that by creating an environment that says its OK.

Everything is based on emotional well-being. And by allowing employees to be open and feel safe in the workplace, odds are youre going to get better, happier employees who are in the headspace to be creative and innovative. And thats where success happens.

Check out our video interview with Hadlock where you can find additional resources on this topic.

I believe the solution to mental health and addiction lives in the workplace. Its failing everywhere else, Hadlock said.

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Mental health in the workplace: The final frontier - Daily Herald

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