In the past year, COVID-19 has dramatically changed the lives of millions of Utahns and left many feeling stressed, anxious and depressed.
Now, as the state slowly returns to in-person work, it is crucial that we address those issues in the workplace. By planning and taking a stand against stigma, businesses can invest in the mental health of their employees.
The return on investment is well worth the effort. According to the World Health Organization, for every $1 put into treatment for mental disorders, there is a return of $4 in improved health and productivity.
As September was nationally recognized as Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, we are urging Utah’s businesses to step up and address the mental health needs of our workforce by following three simple steps:
Talk about mental health
Though the stigma has been steadily decreasing in recent years, mental health can still be an uncomfortable or even awkward subject in the workplace. Unfortunately, that stigma can prevent workers from seeking the help they need. Luckily, the solution is simple: Talk about it. By setting examples of healthy discussion at work, organizations can foster acceptance and understanding in company culture.
Train leaders on mental health
Prioritizing mental wellness in an organization must begin at the top. When leaders are taught the necessary skills, they make the workplace an environment that values mental health and addresses it openly. With the proper training, management can become a valuable resource for employees seeking help. This process builds trust in company leaders, and it literally saves lives.
Utilize mental health resources
Addressing mental health in the workplace may seem daunting at first. Luckily, a world of resources is readily available for your business to start using today. Utah Community Builders has published a Suicide Prevention in the Workforce Employer Toolkit, freely accessible to all and printed in both English and Spanish. Websites such as LiveOn Utah and the National Alliance on Mental Illnesses are also valuable resources.
As business leaders, we have a responsibility to promote mental and emotional well-being in the workplace, and we should never underestimate the role we play in our employees’ mental health. We have seen firsthand how starting the conversation and educating our leaders can strengthen workplace culture along with employee relationships. At the most basic level, which can lead to more healthy, happy, and productive workers.
When mental resilience is a priority in the workplace, everyone wins. The time for action is now.
Clark Ivory, CEO of Ivory Homes, and Lisa Eccles, president and COO of the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation, are co-chairs of the Utah Community Builders Advisory Board.