October 10th marks World Mental Health Day. What better time to remind ourselves how much mental health matters in a health and safety context?
There are various steps you can take to make your workplace an example of both good safety and good health practices. Mental health is an undeniable part of a functional safety framework. There are two steps to achieving positive mental health on the job: creating an environment of positive practices and open feedback, preventing or addressing conditions or behavior that negatively impacts mental health.
Today more than ever, our definition of mental health is incredibly comprehensive–as it should be. Often we forget that signs of a poor environment are not always self-evident. For instance, bullying can be so subtle that you may be doing it without even realizing it. Things that are not glaringly obvious can still contribute immensely to creating a stressful and toxic environment, which greatly undermines efforts to achieve safety and compliance.
Workplaces with good mental health records rank much higher in productivity terms. Every dollar invested in mental health programs has more than a double return on investment. Prioritizing mental health results in less absenteeism, fewer compensation claims, increased safety, better resources for employees and less stigma overall.
Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that while pointing out bad behaviors is simple enough, improving workplace mental health is no easy task. The work is rarely black and white and requires committed leadership and creativity. Sometimes the most unlikely approach can end up providing stunning results — like how these Louisiana oil rig workers reduced their workplace accident rate just by opening up about their feelings.
One method that Safe Work recommends improving workplace PSC is reducing or eliminating the pressures of a high-stakes work environment. In their words: “changing work conditions that predispose bullying such as high demand, high pressure, high competition, and low control/power situations in the workplace.” However you choose to improve mental health at your workplace, we’re glad you’re prioritizing it!
When thinking about workplace health and safety, what usually comes to mind are things like heavy machinery or complicated security protocols. Most people’s thoughts don’t immediately jump to mental health. Back in June 2016, we made the case for why business managers should prioritize a more holistic approach to health and safety and the advantages of both a wellness and a financial standpoint.
The value of health and wellness programs
In an era when the workforce is getting older and becoming less fit, many organizations have broadened the practice of “safety” to encompass mental health and wellness. The issue of mental health and wellness and an employer’s role in promoting healthy habits and lifestyle are just as relevant to safety, especially when you consider there are similarly considerable benefits from deploying these types of programs. Here are some quick facts:
• More than one-third of U.S. adults are obese, or 35.7 percent, with medical costs being $1,429 higher per year than those of normal weight.
• Average medical expenditures of those with Type 2 diabetes are 2.3 times higher than those without this chronic illness.
• Workplace wellness programs result in significant decreases in health care costs including savings in medical costs ranging from $11 to $626 per year per person.
One study showed wellness programs reduced healthcare costs $176 per employee, which is a savings of $1.65 for every $1.00 spent on a comprehensive wellness program.
Employers are faced with a growing challenge of proactively addressing health concerns among employees with the end goal of keeping employees on the job and free from sickness and injury. The biggest challenge with these types of programs is their voluntary nature, with employees themselves determining whether to participate. On top of that, the employees most likely to take advantage of such programs are usually healthier and more fit to start, reinforcing the need for companies to find ways to encourage less fit employees to participate.
Of course, you get it–but what if you don’t know where to start? Resources like Heads Up offer a wealth of information and training on how to sustain a mentally healthy workplace.
And as always, keep safe out there.
By Donesafe at donesafe.com