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Thursday, 19 May 2016 03:36


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The Fall River Team recently attended the annual Colorado Culture of Health conference, and the theme of mental health in the workplace was prevalent.  It continues to be a taboo and uncomfortable topic that employers tend to avoid.  However it’s becoming clear that employers can’t afford to take a hands-off approach any longer, due to the enormous impact it has on companies.  The World Health Organization has stated that mental health illnesses in the U.S. are becoming more costly than physical conditions such as cancer, diabetes, and respiratory illnesses combined.
 According to the American Psychiatric Foundation, stress has become the “epidemic of the century,” the #1 cause of long-term absences from work, and the #1 reason for employees leaving their jobs.
How can employers improve the mental well-being of their employees and foster a culture of awareness and support?  Some suggestions are:
  • Make it a top priority!
  • Encourage a culture of empathy and acceptance rather than judgment
  • Foster the idea of resiliency and protection for everyone in the office
  • Have a zero-tolerance policy for bullying or snide jokes about mental health problems
  • Help break the stigma that seeking mental health care and treatment is shameful
  • Educate your management team and equip them with tools to deal appropriately with mental health in the workplace (resources can be found through Right Direction, Wellness Works, Working Minds, Mental Health First Aid, etc)
  • Weave the subject of mental health into your wellness program.  Make programs available, such as:
    • Lunch-and-Learns about stress management
    • On-site yoga and meditation classes
    • Information and resources for maintaining a healthy work-life balance
  • If a mental health issue is brought to your attention:
    • Listen, don’t judge!
    • Show concern, kindness, and support
    • Help triage the employee to care, such as your Employee Assistance Program or visits to a counselor under your health plan
Mental health issues may very well affect an employee’s ability to function well on the job.  What would you do if you were asked by an employee for a workplace accommodation?  Beware: Your answers could have legal and financial ramifications!  Stay tuned for next month’s blog, as I will outline the protocols that employers should follow, and the risks of not doing so.
Read 1637 times Last modified on Wednesday, 08 June 2016 10:26
Tonya Young

Tonya is our Senior Account Manager and brings eleven years of prior insurance company expertise to Fall River, having worked at Anthem Blue Cross and Great-West Healthcare (now part of CIGNA). Tonya holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Texas A&M University. Originally from Minnesota, she loves the Colorado outdoors and enjoys family time with her young daughter.