American labor is in an interesting place. Paradigm shifts like remote work and self-employment have changed traditional office dynamics, college degrees are more important than ever, and we’ve largely shifted to a service economy versus the manufacturing days of old. Given declining union membership and economic pressures, workers are often more stressed out despite workplaces being physically safer.
Mental health interferes with work and quality of life for many Americans. So what can we do to solve this problem? The answers are complex, and the impetus is on both workers and employers.
Facts and Figures
Mental health issues affect approximately 1 in 5 Americans, running the gamut from stress to substance abuse. Mental illness is particularly prevalent among the millennial workforce, likely due to increasing economic anxiety among this generation (as well as more liberal attitudes about mental health causing higher reporting rates.)
The moral cost of this is obvious, but the financial costs are also staggering. Employee mental illness costs businesses up to $100 billion per year!
As an employer, the single best thing you can do for employee mental health is to treat them well! Work-life balance is extremely important for avoiding stress and burnout, and fair wages and insurance packages allow your employees to help themselves more effectively. You should also train your managers to enforce working hours and to keep deadlines manageable.
Other benefits like discounted gym memberships, healthy snack offerings, and on-site yoga classes also make employees feel valued and reduce workplace stress. But nothing creates healthier employees than a workplace where they are valued as human beings.
The pressure to perform at work can be strong, especially if you were an exceptional student or come from a culture that values a career. It seems paradoxical that working less can be better for your career longterm, but it’s true: by avoiding burnout, your talent is far more sustainable.
Consider enforcing rules like not answering emails after a certain time, and build mental health into your daily routine. Go for a quiet walk at lunch, or meditate at home with your morning coffee. Take time to cultivate personal relationships with your boss and coworkers, too; actually liking them will help boost your morale and make stressful days more bearable.
Therapy can significantly improve your quality of life and help manage your mental health. It’s also covered by most health insurance plans, and visits of an hour or less can fit into your busy schedule! If you or your career could benefit from therapy, contact Azevedo Family Psychology today.