The Importance of Mental Health in the Workplace

June 18, 2024

Just as physical health is essential for an employee to perform their duties effectively, mental health is equally important in the workplace. As HR professionals, it is crucial to recognize the significance of mental well-being and prioritize the importance of mental health in the workplace to create a supportive and productive work environment.

The Importance of Mental Health in the Workplace

Mental health plays a significant role in an employee’s job performance, regardless of whether the stress originates from work or personal life. Companies realize the importance of mental health in the workplace will prioritize their employees’ mental well-being and create a healthier and more supportive workplace, leading to numerous benefits.

The cost of ignoring mental health in the workplace

Ignoring mental health in the workplace can have profound consequences that extend beyond the individual to impact the entire organization.

Ignoring mental health can lead to significant financial losses. As reported by the American Psychiatric Association, the U.S. economy suffers a loss of $210.5 billion a year due to productivity loss, medical costs, and absenteeism related to unresolved depression. According to a study by CAMH in Canada, poor workplace mental health practices cost employers $51 billion annually, with expenses arising from sick leave, disability, and presenteeism. While specific data for Vietnam is not readily available, it’s known that mental health issues can result in increased absenteeism, reduced productivity, and higher turnover rates. The company’s growth is challenged by mental health issues, which can affect workforce efficiency and sustainability.

The Government of Viet Nam estimates that approximately 15-30% of the Vietnamese population requires mental health services, with many suffering from conditions that severely compromise their development, educational attainments, and potential to live fulfilling lives if left untreated. Employees with poor mental health are more likely to miss work, have decreased productivity, and be at a higher risk for developing chronic health conditions. The ripple effect of one employee’s mental health issues can disrupt team dynamics and organizational goals, leading to heightened tension, reduced cohesion, and a loss of trust within the team.

While it’s true that Vietnam currently lacks a comprehensive mental health policy and legislation, but there are still legal frameworks that companies must adhere to. The Labor Code mandates that companies take action against discrimination and harassment, and failure to comply can result in legal consequences such as fines, penalties, lawsuits, and reputational damage.

It’s essential for HR teams to understand these risks and implement policies and practices that support mental health to ensure compliance and protect the well-being of their employees.

Reason why mental health is important
Reason why mental health is important

Benefits of good mental health in the workplace

Let’s explore the significance of mental health in the workplace and the advantages of investing in employee mental wellbeing.

Improved employee wellbeing

A supportive and mentally healthy workplace reduces stress, anxiety, and depression among staff, resulting in happier and more resilient employees who can better handle challenges and pressures. This, in turn, reduces absenteeism and presenteeism, as employees feel more supported and engaged at work. 

When employees feel valued and appreciated, they are more likely to remain loyal to the company, leading to lower turnover rates and a more stable workforce. 

Moreover, a culture that prioritizes mental health fosters a sense of belonging and community, encouraging employees to collaborate effectively and work towards common goals.

Enhanced productivity and performance

Mind the Workplace survey results show that organizations investing in psychologically safe and equitable work environments see improved worker health, increased employee engagement and retention, and decreased workplace stress. Mentally well employees can focus better, think more clearly, and make sounder decisions. This leads to enhanced creativity, innovation, and problem-solving. A mentally healthy workforce is more efficient and productive, contributing to a more successful organization.

Open communication and effective teamwork thrive in a supportive environment. Employees feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas, fostering better collaboration and innovation.

Stronger company culture

Companies that prioritize mental health are seen as more attractive to talented individuals seeking a supportive and healthy work environment. A commitment to employee well-being boosts a company’s reputation and fosters positive public perception. This can make the company a preferred employer, drawing in top talent and enhancing overall organizational performance.

A commitment to employee well-being enhances a company’s brand reputation and fosters positive public perception. It demonstrates that the organization values its employees’ health and happiness. As a result, brand awareness, customer loyalty, and overall success can increase, as happy and engaged employees become natural brand advocates.

Importance of mental health awareness in the workplace
Importance of mental health awareness in the workplace

Strategies for building a mentally healthy workplace

By employing a multi-pronged, comprehensive approach, organizations can create a culture that proactively supports mental wellbeing. 

Creating a supportive culture

A supportive culture is one where open communication, empathy, and respect for individual needs are paramount. This can be achieved by:

Promoting work-life balance

Work-life balance is crucial for mental health. Strategies to promote this include:

  • Offer flexible work arrangements when possible (e.g. remote work, adjustable hours)
  • Provide generous paid time off and encourage employees to use it
  • Make stress management resources readily available (e.g. meditation apps, wellness programs)
  • Ensure robust employee assistance programs for counseling and crisis support

Training and awareness

HR professionals and managers play a key role in a mentally healthy workplace. They should be trained to:

  • Recognize signs of mental health issues.
  • Address concerns sensitively and effectively.
  • Provide support and direct employees to appropriate resources

Destigmatizing mental health

To destigmatize mental health in the workplace:

  • Encourage open dialogues about mental health issues.
  • Share stories and experiences to normalize mental health conversations.
  • Offer resources and support for those seeking help
  • Treat mental health with the same importance as physical health and safety

HR professionals have the opportunity to be leaders in prioritizing mental health in their workplaces. By implementing policies and programs that support the mental well-being of employees in the workplace, HR can create a culture that values and promotes the importance of mental health in the workplace. Doing the employee benefits survey  to find ways to Improve mental health in the workplace can help create a healthier, more productive workforce.

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