Supporting employees at work and beyond

The new year brings excellent news for Beacon Health Options (Beacon). Mental Health America (MHA) has awarded Beacon its platinum certification for The Bell Seal for Workplace Mental Health, MHA’s new national employer certification program.

The Bell Seal recognizes employer advances in workplace mental health by awarding levels of bronze, silver, gold and platinum. Organizations are assessed on five categories: workplace culture; health insurance and benefits; employee perks and programs; legal compliance; and leadership and community engagement.

Beacon is fully aware of the importance of employee mental health and wellbeing because behavioral health is all we do. As Beacon’s CEO, I see addressing Beacon employee mental health as living our mission of helping people live their lives to the fullest potential. However, not all employers may be aware of the imperative to address employee mental health.

In brief, the American workforce is under a lot of psychological distress and general stress. Consider the following:

• 20% of workers experience a mental health condition each year

• 25% of workers quit to care for a family member

• 83% of employees suffer from work-related stress

• 52% say their company does not do enough to promote employee health

Employers have an opportunity to address what some might call a silent epidemic that affects the individual as well as the organization. Their employees’ struggling mental health can have measureable consequences on organizations’ productivity, resulting in some staggering lost-productivity expense nationwide.

• 1 million US workers miss work each day due to workplace stress

• Annual cost of untreated depression: $43.7 billion in absenteeism, lost productivity, direct treatment costs

• Cost of grief to employers: $113.27 billion in reduced productivity and errors, up from $75 billion in 2002

• Cost of productivity losses to employers: $225.8 billion annually

It’s more than just numbers

While statistics tell an alarming story, it’s the human experience that tells the most compelling tale. Arguably, we spend more time with our coworkers than anyone else. We help each other solve problems, meet goals and execute on the smallest and largest of tasks. We become friends as much as coworkers, and so we need to be there for each other for all challenges – personal as well as professional.

What can executives do to ensure that employee mental health is a priority? Below are some suggested tips in some of the categories that MHA measures for the Bell Seal.

1. Workplace culture – Offer a variety of recognitions programs that help promote high employee reward and engagement

2. Health insurance and benefits – Provide a package of benefits and policies that promote flexibility and work/life balance

3. Employee perks and programs – Ensure you have extensive training and development opportunities

4. Leadership and community engagement – Support a commitment to destigmatizing mental health via open discussion and encourage dedication to local community engagement both in and out of the office

These tips are just the beginning of what leaders can do in their own organizations to support their employees. For more information, visit https://www.mhanational.org/bestemployers to learn about promoting employee mental health. As leaders, we can help our organizations attract potential employees and increase retention; improve employee productivity; reduce healthcare costs and lost revenue; and more.

But perhaps more important, your efforts will help your colleagues – and your friends – be happier and healthier people so that they can live their lives to the fullest potential. I invite you to share what your organization has done to support employee mental health and wellbeing by posting a comment in the comment box below.


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