Given that 1 in 5 adults in the US report living with a mental illness, it is no surprise that these adults are tasked with dealing with their mental health in the workplace. Among many contributing factors to common mental illnesses like anxiety and depression, work environments and workloads affect mental health.
For some employees, mental illness may be a pre-existing condition. Many deal with anxiety and depression in their daily lives because of situational, genetic, lifestyle, or biological reasons. These conditions, in turn, carry over into the workplace and affect how employees show up in their workspaces, as mental illness is not something that one can just “turn off” or “leave outside the office building.” The work environment and job stressors can then compound pre-existing anxiety and/or depression. 83% of US workers suffer from work-related stress, making the impacts of stress and anxiety at work an issue that can’t be ignored.
While some employees may begin employment with mental health challenges, others may develop these challenges throughout their professional careers. Stressful, unwelcoming, fast-paced, and sometimes even toxic environments typically do not foster good mental health at work. Employees may suffer from burn-out or not feeling seen or heard by the supervisors while feeling immense pressure to perform and provide with little support.
Anxiety at work and struggling with other mental illnesses affect employees on an emotional level and negatively impact many work-related areas. Anxiety at work can lead to:
- Decreased productivity and performance
- Decreased engagement with one’s work
- Poorer communication with coworkers
- Decreased physical capability and functioning
The effects of anxiety at work and other mental health challenges at work like depression are far-reaching in the workplace. This is why many employers are starting corporate wellness programs and implementing changes that foster mental wellness.
Ways companies are investing in corporate wellness:
- Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) – An EAP is a program that works to assist employees in coping with or resolving personal or mental health challenges they might be facing. These programs typically include coverage for a set number of counseling sessions with approved providers.
- Changing company cultures – One way a company might invest in the mental wellness of their employees is by creating a culture of understanding and openness around mental health. This can mean HR programs taking steps to prevent burnout and build employee resiliency. It could also mean supervisors being mindful of and allowing employees to speak openly about mental health challenges.
- Mental wellness days – Some companies have started allowing employees to take paid or unpaid mental health days from work. For these to be most effective, it’s important that employees feel empowered to use them before they begin to feel burnt out or severely mentally unwell. While feeling anxiety at work might be common, encouraging employees to take a step back can be helpful. These days are meant to be proactive, allowing employees to regularly take a break and engage in rest and self-care.
- Improved access to mental health care – Providing good mental health coverage in insurance policies is a way to empower employees in taking their mental health into their own hands. This can allow people to proactively take care of their mental health consistently rather than reactively. Some companies may even have in-house therapists that their employees have consistent access to.
Investing in corporate wellness does not just benefit employees but also employers. By receiving proper mental health care, productivity increases, absenteeism decreases, and total medical costs decrease. Having a healthy workforce that shows up to work in a good frame of mind, ready to work benefits everyone.
Whether you are struggling with depression and/or anxiety in your daily life or struggling with depression and/or anxiety at work, there are many resources out there.
Corporate Wellness Resources
- If you feel you may be experiencing job burnout, you can find a burnout quiz and resources here.
- If you are curious about taking a mental health test, you can take a mental health quiz here, along with resources on symptoms of mental illness.
- If you are an employer interested in learning more about what you can do to better support your employees and promote mental wellness, you can find resources here, as well as here.
Milenkovic, M. (2019, September 25). 42 Worrying Workplace Stress Statistics. The American Institute of Stress. https://www.stress.org/42-worrying-workplace-stress-statistics.
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. (2019, April 10). Mental Health in the Workplace. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/workplacehealthpromotion/tools-resources/workplace-health/mental-health/index.html.