Many businesses today offer unique opportunities to get and stay healthy in the workplace. That may include a state-of-the-art fitness center, offering additional healthier options in the vending machines or lunch break walking clubs.
Companies have discovered over the past 20 years the benefits of having team members work toward and maintaining a healthier lifestyle. Some of these benefits include seeing fewer sick days being used, lower insurance premiums and healthy employees putting more energy into their work.
But are we remembering there is more to being healthy than having glowing skin and a tone body?
As we work toward eating healthier, working out more and maintaining our weight, we must also have a strong focus on ensuring we are mentally fit as well. Employers should offer resources and trainings to their team that includes information on mental health. Many times, we learn of a team member’s struggle with mental health after something tragic happens (e.g., suicide attempts, workplace violence or worse) and are left thinking “What did I miss?” or “What could I have done differently?”
Understanding and recognizing that a team member may be struggling with some form of depression or mental illness is key to getting them the help they may need from a licensed and trained professional. Some signs that you or a co-worker may be suffering from depression or some other form of mental illness could be: a loss of interest in previously pleasurable activities or engaging with others, apparent fatigue or having sleep problems, changes in everyday eating habits, being angrier and more irritable, outwardly expressing negative thoughts, and a loss of confidence, to name a few.
It is important that we are mindful of not invading or overstepping into others’ personal space. We should be well trained in understanding the signs of depression and mental illness and how we might assist others in a kind, non-pushy and empathetic way. One good way to do this is for employers to ensure they can offer outside professional assistance to those who want or need it. This could include working closely with a psychologist, psychiatrist or social worker, who can step in when a team member is in distress.
There are also a lot of other great resources out there for employers to offer their teams, a few include: BetterHelp.com, Mental Health America (an online guide for employees), FreeMentalHealth.us (the state of Michigan) or call 988 (a 24-hour suicide prevention). It is important to note that we should only seek and offer professional outside help if someone agrees to it.
Let’s all work together to remove the negative stigma of mental health and come together in mind, body and spirit.
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