4 Signs Your Industry Has a Blank Spot on Mental Health | Daisy Sawyer
We live in a world that’s finally starting to recognize the struggles some people have with their mental health on a day-to-day basis.
Despite this, many workplaces are still reluctant to take it seriously, putting strain on their employees and making it difficult to seek help. This is what you can call a major blank spot. Companies aren’t just ignorant of mental health, they’re actively working against their employees’ (and their own) best interests.
Mental health is just as important as any other kind of health, not just in the workplace, but in life. If you’re in a position of authority, you have a responsibility to make sure no one in your business suffers, whether you’re a new startup looking to change the world or a major brand with an inflexible corporate structure. Here is a look at mental health in the workplace and how you can spot signs your industry has a black spot on it. Common mental health problems in the workplace
While many companies are now more committed to addressing mental health concerns than ever before, there are still problems commonly associated with workplaces, particularly high-pressure ones with significant workloads.
From service workers to bankers, these are some of the most commons workplace mental health problems:
- High levels of stress
- Imposter Syndrome
These can be issues incurred at the workplace or triggered by it. Regardless of their origin, severity or how your staff deals with them, these are concerns worth addressing as a company for the sake of your workforce’s wellbeing and the business’s ability to grow.
Industries where mental health issues are common
While mental health is by no means confirmed to just a few industries, there are some where reports of it are simply more common. It’s worth noting the problems within these industries to help highlight the issue to people working within them that possess the power to make changes, and make them more recognizable to similar industries.
In a Mental Health America survey, manufacturing ranked last nationally for mental health in the workplace.
While factories aren’t exactly the most exciting or attractive places to work to modern Americans looking for contemporary offices, they still offer good pay and job opportunities for what are often referred to as ‘low-skilled’ workers. Despite this, many people suffer with their mental health in these roles due to the harsh working conditions and long hours.
The demanding nature of manufacturing jobs and diminishing job security combine to create a role where many employees are always a little cautious about the road ahead.
Anyone with a working knowledge of the armed forces understands the long, storied history of mental health within it. From crises of confidence to PTSD, the unique workplace of the U.S military is one where mental health concerns are an unfortunate side effect.
Unlike many workplaces, most of these concerns only become apparent when workers leave the armed forces. Tales of veterans struggling to re-adapt to normal civilian life, find employment and build new relationships are common. Even financial support can be difficult to attain, with veterans having to turn to businesses such as Vet Comp & Pen (vetcompandpen.com) to acquire their disability payments.
Stress, depression and PTSD are commonly-associated mental health concerns for people looking after veterans before and after they leave the forces.
Much like the armed forces, it’s not hard to see why the healthcare industry might breed stressful work environments, especially considering the year many working within it have been through.
Many healthcare workers consider themselves underpaid and underappreciated, with the conditions they work in not up to the standard needed to do their job. Coupled with large student debt to get to this position, it creates an environment where even the strongest professionals can get ground down and suffocate under the weight of their own mental health.
Coupled with the nature of being on-call and the high-pressure nature of the job, healthcare workers rarely get the time off to recharge. As Health Europa stated, severe action is needed to address growing mental health concerns and burnout throughout the sector post-COVID. Of course, there are many other industries where mental health crises are common, such as retail, education and tech, all for a myriad of different reasons. It’s important to notice trends of high-pressure, poor condition and low pay workplaces throughout these industries though.
4 Signs your industry might have a blank spot
Now that we’ve laid the groundwork, let’s look at 4 signs that point to your industry having a blank spot on mental health and employees that are suffering.
A high number of sick days
Noticing more and more of your team taking sick days? It might be a sign of a mental health blank spot. A 2020 survey highlighted by Aetna International noted a significant number of employees (32%) were taking sick days off to deal with stress. This likely doesn’t include the significant number of people who were less open about their reasoning for taking sick days and the number of people dealing with non-stress-related mental health issues.
Of course, frequently losing employees to sick days isn’t ideal for your business. It might not necessarily be a sign of a problem with your workplace in particular, but problems at home or motivational issues driven by declining mental health.
However, many employees can find themselves scared into sick days by the prospect of work and the internal panic it incurs.
Low employee satisfaction
What kind of feedback do you get in your company surveys? Are you happy with what your employees are telling you? Does it paint the picture of a happy workplace?
It’s important to analyze what the data is really saying, rather than looking for what you want to see. If employees are telling you your company is making them unhappy, unhealthy or uncomfortable, it’s time to act on that. Let the data confirm what you can see with your eyes and guide future decision-making. If everyone looks about as happy and satisfied in their role as the cast of The Office, it might be time to address a blank spot.
High staff turnover rates
If it feels like there are always people leaving and joining the company it might not be a sign of a fluctuating job market, but a problem within your industry.
People leave jobs for a number of reasons, but a toxic environment and poor mental wellbeing are two of the top reasons. High staff turnover rates might suggest a larger issue with the company than personal preference. Employees might be feeling forced to take drastic measures to improve their work-life balance or find job satisfaction. This should be a major sign to anyone working in HR or running a company.
Low interest in additional work responsibilities/activities
Many industries now feature companies looking to diversify their workloads and create more enticing atmospheres through extra-curricular activities and responsibilities. This could be anything from running the social committee to getting involved in charity days.
However, if you’re experiencing a lack of interest in these projects or noticing continued rejection from your team, it might be a sign they don’t value the company or believe it to have their best interests at heart. To someone suffering in the workplace for whatever reason, it can be hard to feel like putting effort into additional tasks is worth their time. This might just be a general lack of interest or a need to focus on their workload, but a lack of involvement could suggest internal issues and low confidence in their abilities.
How to address these blank spots within your company
Changing attitudes around mental health isn’t easy, especially at an executive and board level. If changes clash with old ways of doing things and means of making a profit, it can be hard to implement substantial ones.
That being said, here are some ways you can hopefully begin to address these mental health blank spots within your company.
- Confidentially survey staff about their concerns and struggles with mental health
- Implement a suggestion box for ways to improve at-work well-being
- Consider flexible hours, permanent work from home initiatives or even reducing employee hours (without a pay decrease)
- Familiarize yourself with the signs of depression, anxiety and other mental health problems
- Encourage communication between colleagues
- Develop quiet areas where employees can relax and take a break
- Offer counseling packages as a workplace perk
Mental health blank spots aren’t always about making the workplace more fun or giving staff the chance to bond. They’re about making work a comfortable place to discuss outside issues and notice when home-life concerns may be seeping into someone’s ability to contribute. It’s part of your responsibility as an employer to check on these concerns. To a manager or CEO trying to cut costs and run an efficient workforce, many suggestions for addressing mental health blank spots sound fanciful and counter-productive.
However, making changes to how your business operates and listening to the concerns of your employees can help set you on the road to a happier, healthier and more productive workspace. And if there’s anything to learn from this article, it’s the long way we have to go before workplaces are no longer causing mental health issues.