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Business benefits of Mental Health friendly workplace
A Mental Health-Friendly Workplace makes good business sense. Often proactive “mental health-friendly” practices can prevent or help resolve problematic work situations. It benefits owners, managers, and employees in ways that affect the bottom line.

Consider the following outcomes:

  • Higher productivity and motivation. Employees feel valued, secure, and work more effectively when employers demonstrate a commitment to their well-being.
  • Reduced absenteeism. Workplace stress is a major cause of absenteeism. Helping employees manage their stress and overall mental health can boost productivity.
  • Health insurance cost containment. Instituting health and wellness programs can help hold down health insurance rate hikes.
  • Preparedness for disasters. Assisting employees in times of sudden unexpected trauma with counseling, peer support groups, and links to needed community services can help businesses become productive again sooner.
  • Loyalty and retention. Businesses with mental health friendly practices have documented remarkably low turnover rates, along with savings in recruitment, new employee orientation and training.
  • Hiring and promoting the most qualified people. By openly supporting mental health-friendly policies, employers can increase the pool of qualified applicants.
  • More efficient workplace policies and practices. The process of thinking about mental health can generate helpful internal policy and benefit reviews, and more effective workplace systems and procedures for employees as a whole.
  • Better workplace relations. Awareness of and openness to mental health issues helps create a positive climate for understanding, conflict resolution, and support.
  • Diversity, acceptance and respect in the workplace. Embracing diversity includes people who live with a mental illness. In becoming more inclusive, businesses can both thrive and set a standard for others.

What does a mental health-friendly workplace look like?

Businesses that value the health of their employees, including their mental heath and well being, have specific policies and practices in place. Such companies can be small, medium, or large. Outstanding examples abound in large corporations around the United States; however, businesses with only a few employees also have found meaningful and innovative ways to be mental health-friendly.

Below are specific practices and policies that characterize a mental health-friendly workplace:

  • Welcomes all qualified job applicants; diversity is valued.
  • Includes health care that treats mental illnesses with the same urgency as physical illnesses.
  • Has programs and practices that promote and support employee health-wellness and/or work-life balance.
  • Provides training for managers and front-line supervisors in mental health workplace issues, including identification of performance problems that may indicate worker distress and possible need for referral and evaluation.
  • Safeguards confidentiality of employee health information.
  • Provides an Employee Assistance Program or other appropriate referral resources to assist managers and employees.
  • Supports employees who seek treatment or who require hospitalization and disability leave, including planning for return to work.
  • Ensures “exit with dignity” as a corporate priority, should it become essential for an employee to leave employment.
  • Provides all-employee communication regarding equal opportunity employment, the reasonable accommodations policy of the American with Disabilities Act, health and wellness programs, and similar topics that promote an accepting, anti-stigmatizing, anti-discriminating climate in the workplace.
Source: U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration.

For more information, call Mental Health America of Illinois at( 312) 368-9070, ext. 10, or visit www.mhai.org. The Mental Health America Resource Center may be reached at (800) 969-NMHA.


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