Sadly, at any given time, approximately 1 in 5 workers is likely to be experiencing a mental health condition such as depression or anxiety. This is estimated to cost the global economy $16 trillion by 2030. The enormous economic cost is primarily due to the early onset of mental illness and lost productivity, with an estimated 12 billion working days lost due to mental illness every year. Unfortunately, we see too little emphasis on this from an OHS or HSE point of view.
Business performance can be impacted significantly when business managers or their workers, costing businesses time and money through days off work or not working at full capacity, experience mental health conditions. Relationship with stakeholders, other workers, or family members may also be damaged. Mental health problems have a serious impact on the way someone performs his/her daily activities.
Prevention and effective management of mental health conditions in the workplace can reduce the social and financial impact significantly. As a manager, there should be nothing better than knowing that your staff are healthy and happy. The interaction between work-related and personal related stress makes it pretty hard to find the right way to deal with it. However, the fact that it isn’t easy shouldn’t be the reason why the company doesn’t try. Having a great coach or psychologist ready to help out will be a great way to start.
Implementing a strong occupational health and safety management system is also another way organizations can reduce accidents and mental health conditions. In order to make mental health an important part of the OHS management system, it should be mentioned in the policies and other key values. We still see that most companies don’t even touch upon this topic from an OHS point of view. Yes, we all have KPI like days without injury but mental health incidents are hardly part of this KPI. Start incorporating mental health issues as well as a KPI. You have to do this carefully, of course, with all the personal information—but it gives a clear message on how serious the company takes this.
Start with creating a safe workplace with effective processes—a OHS management platform can help you create. By implementing a safety management system, you can easily put processes in place to ensure your employee’s mental health needs are being addressed as well. It can be a great benefit to train people to realize when they feel stressed and what to do when they are. Give them access to help when needed to make them feel accepted, rather than hiding it away.
Somebody’s mental health is just as important as your physical health and safety in the context of overall health and wellbeing. Make sure the company start to take it as seriously as any other part of the human body and make it part of the OHS Management system.