Solutions for mental health issues at work
May 2022   WHOLE HEALTH

Solutions for mental health issues at work

Mental health may not be a new topic, but it’s certainly a hot one – especially when it comes to the mental health of employees.
Scroll to read

Their state of mental health is driven by negative outcome parameters such as workplace stress, long-term absence from work and the overall impact it has on their Whole Health. Mental health is ranked the most important pillar of Whole Health, according to our 360 Well-being Survey. In addition, 40% of employees are looking for mental health support from their employer, yet only 24% of employers provide it. With prevention being key to creating healthy behaviours to avoid mental health issues from occurring at all, it’s time for employers to take action to help their employees to build and sustain their mental well-being.

Back to basics – what do we mean by mental health?

Mental health is widely spoken about but do we really understand it? Let’s take it back to basics to fully appreciate what is meant by mental health.

No matter who we are, or what stage we are in life – from childhood to adulthood, our mental health helps us manage stress, change, life’s challenges and to help us make decisions and informed choices.  Mental health can affect our emotions, thoughts and behaviours and, if unmanaged, can even manifest into physical symptoms – from unexplained aches and pains to weight loss/weight gain and fatigue, amongst others.

Mental health in the workplace at a glance:

  • Mental health is the most important pillar of Whole Health
  • 40% of employees are looking for mental health support from their employer
  • Mental health can affect our emotions, thoughts and behaviours and, if unmanaged, can even manifest into physical symptoms
  • Physical health problems significantly increase the risk of developing mental health problems, and vice versa
  • Often treated in isolation, this can result in sub-optimal care and can cause numerous disadvantages for those living with mental health issues

Unfortunately, there’s no on and off switch for mental health and it is more than just the absence of negative emotions. Mental health is a vast range of well-being possibilities from feeling really well, where resilience is high and pro-active healthy behaviours exist, to mental ill-health where low resilience, depression, anxiety and more are present. Different risk factors can put a strain on mental health – finances, physical health, home life, family and work. And, since no two people are the same, levels of resilience and coping mechanisms vary from person to person. Meaning, what works well for one person in managing their mental health, will be completely different for someone else.

With all of these contributing factors, it can be challenging to truly understand the impact that all states of mental well-being have, not just on our physical health, but also our overall Whole Health.

Understanding the relationship between mental and physical health

Even with mental health being widely discussed in the media and with high profile ambassadors across the globe, mental health conditions and opening up about emotional well-being, unfortunately still has an unwanted stigma attached. False beliefs about mental health can cause significant problems for anyone who is already trying to manage and live with a mental health concern. The lack of understanding from friends, family and co-workers can make someone feel like they don’t have a support network and left feeling reluctant to speak out or seek help or treatment. This is a spiralling situation which only causes more anxiety, further contributing to existing mental health worries.

This lack of understanding and reluctance to access treatment gives more opportunity for physical symptoms of poor mental health to manifest. Mental and physical problems often co-occur and can strongly influence each other. Physical health problems significantly increase the risk of developing mental health problems, and vice versa. Yet, traditionally both physical and mental health are treated separately focusing on one or the other and not in tandem.

When this happens, it can result in sub-optimal care and can cause numerous disadvantages for those living with mental health issues, leading to:

  • wider social and environmental determinants of poor health, including poverty, unemployment, homelessness and incarceration
  • stigma, discrimination, social isolation and exclusion
  • increased behaviours that pose a risk to health such as smoking and poor diet
  • lack of support to access health and preventative care
  • Physical symptoms, which may require treatment, being overlooked and considered part of an existing mental health diagnosis1

There’s a need for a more integrated approach when it comes to looking after mental and physical health. It begins with helping people recognise the value of healthcare solutions and at the same time, empowering them with the right tools to help address the many stressors that occur in their immediate environment and to improve their overall health and well-being.

Mental health support begins in the workplace

How much attention is paid to mental well-being in your workplace? You might be surprised to learn that 61% of people are stressed, with work related stress, financial worries and uncertainty for the future the leading causes.  78% of people report being ‘always on’ – is this true in your workplace??  This way of working isn’t sustainable longer term, and has a negative effect on employee mental health.

With much of people’s time each day spent at work, the workplace can be a very influential environment when it comes to mental health and overall well-being. A positive and supportive workplace can be the difference between an employee feeling well or feeling on edge.

Recommendations for employers:

  • Ensure your workplace well-being offerings are a strategic business imperative
  • Employee mental health should be a priority in improving overall Whole Health
  • Empower your employees to create healthy behaviours to maintain and improve their Whole Health

While human resilience is built in, when it comes to your employees and their mental health, it’s important to remember that no two employees are the same and there’s more to their life than just their day-job. Their personal health (physical or mental), their family well-being, their financial concerns, their work-life balance and their access to care all impact their whole health and play a big part in their ability to work effectively. Employees are turning to their employers for the support they need to improve their health, bolster their strength and resilience and to help them thrive. 

Employees who feel supported by their employer tend to be less likely to experience mental health symptoms, less likely to underperform and miss work, and are more likely to feel comfortable talking about their mental health at work.

How can employers manage and support employee mental health in the workplace?

Workplace well-being offerings have moved on from a ‘nice to have’ employee benefit. It is a business imperative and is rapidly becoming a boardroom conversation.  Looking after mental health is a critical component of any drive to improve Whole Health in the workplace. 

Our Whole Health mental well-being solution helps employers focus on both prevention and resilience, as well as providing support to employees dealing with mental health concerns. We provide employers the tools and framework needed to both protect and support employee mental health in the workplace.

Our Whole Health mental well-being solution inspires employees to take care of themselves and their mental health on a daily basis to develop, protect, maintain and improve their Whole Health.

Our Whole Health mental well-being solution empowers people to create healthy behaviours to better cope with life’s challenges, whilst helping to build and sustain resilience - enabling people to live better and healthier lives. 

1 https://ukhsa.blog.gov.uk/2018/12/18/health-matters-reducing-health-inequalities-in-mental-illness/

Related articles
Someone at the psychologist

Employee burnout and stress – is the workplace to blame or can it be part of the solution?

Good mental health is fundamental to our collective and individual ability as people to think, show emotion, interact, earn a living, and enjoy life. But the importance of mental health can often be underestimated – especially in the workplace. Alarmingly, 84% of employees reported that at least one workplace factor has affected their mental health.

state-of-expat-life-2022-1200x675

Cigna 360 Global Well-being Survey Reveals Worrying Levels of Expat Burn Out

Our latest Cigna 360 Global Well-Being Survey of 11,922 people worldwide found that expat stress has reached an all-time high, with almost all respondents feeling symptoms of burnout.