What is mental health?

Mental health is a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully and is able to make a contribution to his or her community. Mental health affects the way we think about ourselves, relate to others, and interact with the world around us. Times of stress or uncertainty may affect our mental health and at work, employees can start doubting their abilities, appear less confident and have difficulties concentrating, learning and making decisions.

Mental health in the workplace

Workplaces can play an essential part in maintaining positive mental health. But they can also be a stressful environment that contributes to the rise of mental health problems and illnesses. Workplace policies very often limit their definition of occupational health and safety to only the physical.

With most adults spending more of their waking hours at work than anywhere else, addressing issues of mental health at work is vitally important for all people in Canada. Some facts about mental healthcare at work:

  • 70% of Canadian employees are concerned about the psychological health and safety of their workplace
  • In any given week, 500,000 Canadians are unable to work due to mental health problems
  • The main reason why employees don’t seek mental health support: fear of coming forward to their employer and stigmatized feeling
  • More than 60% of Canadian employers don’t have a mental health strategy in place
  • Mental health illnesses cost more than $6 billion in lost productivity due to absenteeism, presentism, and turnover
  • 30% of STD and LTD claims in Canada are attributed to mental health problems and illnesses
  • The total cost from mental health problems to the Canadian economy exceeds $50 billion annually

Benefits of a healthy workplace

A psychologically healthy workplace can improve employee engagement, morale and satisfaction, retention and recruitment, but also productivity. A healthy workplace will reduce absenteeism, health costs, medical leave/disability and workplace injuries.

What can employers do to help?

It’s important for employers to understand that mental illnesses are real illnesses. Like other illnesses, such as diabetes or asthma, most mental illnesses are episodic. That means people have periods when they are well and productive, as well as periods when they are unwell and overall functioning is low.

As an employer, there are many ways in which you can help create a psychologically healthy and safe workplace. Mental health strategies focused on prevention (such as building resiliency and coping skills to eliminating stigma) and early intervention (such as providing access to employee and family assistance programs (EFAP)) can result in positive changes for employees. Building a supportive work environment that promotes mental well-being has benefits for everyone and keeps your workforce strong and competitive.

There are some effective practices that are easy to put in place at work:

  1. Encourage employee participation and decision-making
  2. Clearly define employees’ duties and responsibilities
  3. Promote work-life balance
  4. Encourage and model respectful behaviours
  5. Manage workloads
  6. Provide training and learning opportunities
  7. Have conflict resolution practices in place
  8. Recognize employees’ contributions effectively

How virtual healthcare can help

Virtual healthcare helps patients better manage mental health care by providing initial contact to assess and connect them with appropriate resources. By using remote consultations, virtual health increases connectivity while reducing time pressure and geographical barriers to care. When an employer invests one dollar in a workplace mental health action, it resulted in 2.3 dollars in return.

And the best part? Interest in virtual care for mental health services is highest among younger Canadians (18-34). More than half of whom are likely to use it to consult mental health practitioners (53%) and for video/telephone mental health counselling (51%).

Want to know more about virtual healthcare? Contact us at hello@wello.ca and talk to a virtual healthcare specialist today. 

[Case study] How Wello helped: https://wello.ca/2019/05/14/wello-supports-mental-health-case-study/