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May Safety Topic: May is Mental Health Month

One in five adults will experience a diagnosable mental illness in any given year. Eager to "suck it up" and look tough, more than half will go untreated according to the American Psychiatric Association.

This "tough guy" culture comes at a staggering cost to employers in terms of health care, absenteeism, and lost productivity. 

On the other hand, companies with the most effective health and productivity programs achieved 11% more revenue per employee, delivered 28% higher shareholder returns, and had lower medical costs and fewer absences per employee.

Participating in Mental Health Month is one way to foster a mentally healthy workforce. 

Below are 10 ways you can participate in Mental Health Month:

  1. Make the business case for investing in a mentally healthy workforce. The Center for Workplace Health offers free mental health calculators to estimate the cost of mental health issues for your company and the potential savings of implementing intervention programs. Perillon's incident impact financial metrics tool can help calculate the true cost of mental health-related incidents such as lost time, absenteeism, and productivity. 
  2. Share mental health screening resources with your employees. Mental Health America offers a free screening tool that provides immediate results, education, and resources. MHA Screening is available in both English and Spanish.
  3. Allow employees to provide work-related feedback to their supervisors. Mobile health and safety apps can make this process anonymous to avoid the fear of negative repercussions.
  4. Provide a workplace that is free from violence, harassment, or intimidation. Our recent article on workplace violence prevention offers tips and strategies to create a safe working environmental.
  5. Speak openly about mental health in the workplace. Open communication from leaders can encourage employees to do the same and create an environment where people are comfortable seeking help if they need it. 
  6. Provide a comprehensive employee healthcare plan that includes smoking cessation, weight loss, substance abuse, and mental health care programs.
  7. Consider offering gym membership discounts, on-site fitness classes, or exercise space to promotes physical fitness. Research suggests that regular physical activity plays a role in prevention and recovery from mental illness.
  8. Promote work-life balance by offering work options like flexible scheduling or telecommuting, and encouraging employees to work more efficiently rather than working longer hours. 
  9. Download the free Mental Health Month Toolkit for posters, social media messages, fact sheets, and handouts to use in your workplace. You can access the toolkit here.
  10. Provide awareness education for supervisors, managers, union representatives and other leaders who are responsible for supporting or managing employees with mental health issues. The "Working Through It" program offers free training materials and videos to get you started.

Next steps: Download the 2020 Safety Calendar

Participating in Mental Health Month is an important step toward a healthier workplace. For more ideas and resources to create a safe and healthy workplace, download the free 2020 safety calendar.

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