WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — We all have our emotional ups and downs, but for roughly 20 percent of American workers, it’s something much more. Their mental health could be seriously suffering.
We’re talking about more than 46 million working US adults who experience a mental health condition each year. Eyewitness News spoke with the head of a mental health advocacy group about how employers and employees can help foster stable, supportive and less stressful workplaces.
Stress and the workplace often go hand in hand. That emotional pressure is taking a major toll on the mental health of millions.
“About two-thirds of employees say that workplace stress is so great that they engage in unhealthy behaviors outside of the workplace,” said Paul Gionfriddo, President and CEO, Mental Health America.
According to the non-profit Mental Health America, that stress causes many workers to self-medicate or become abusive toward family and friends.
Stress in the workplace derails roughly one in six workers from their chosen career. It’s far worse each year for hundreds of others dealing with a major depressive disorder.
“One person every single work day is lost to suicide while they’re on the job,” Mr. Gionfriddo continued.
Believing the US Workplace deserves better, Mental Health America launched a new national employer certification program called the “Bell Seal for Workplace Mental Health”. It focuses on five categories:
- Workplace culture
- Health insurance & benefits
- Employee perks & programs
- Legal & ethical compliance
- Leadership & community engagement
“If they do all of these things and do all of these things well, we can recognize them,” Mr. Gionfriddo said.
Among the initial recipients of the Bell Seal for Workplace Mental Health is Boston-based behavioral health company Beacon Health Options which provides its supervisors with specialized training.
“To recognize when someone who they are working with appears stressed, appears a little out of sorts and to approach them, to talk about it in an open and candid way to see what we can do to provide supports for that individual,” said Russ Petrella, PhD, President and CEO, Beacon Health Options.
I asked, “What can employees do to help themselves?” and Dr. Petrella replied, “Employees need to be kind of willing to be able to break through the stigma of mental health issues and being able to talk about it and raise their hand and say I need help, I need services.”
Those mental health pressures aren’t only caused by the job. Sometimes workers bring that emotional baggage with them into the workplace.