How to Address Emotional Health in the Workplace Blog

Current State of Emotional Health

Consider these facts about the state of mental and emotional health among Americans:

Addressing emotional health in the workplace has been important to many employers in the past. However, it’s even more important now.

What information do we cover in this article?

  • First, we’ll define emotional health.
  • Secondly, we’ll cover how poor emotional health negatively affects employees.
  • Thirdly, we’ll discuss how emotional health affects job performance, and ultimately your business.
  • Finally, we’ll share key tips to effectively address emotional health in your workplace.

What is Emotional Health?

Emotional health is how we think about ourselves and the world around us. It also includes how we address those ideas. In other words, it’s about self-awareness. It’s also about knowing how to cope with life challenges.

According to American Family Physician, “People with good emotional health are in control of their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. They feel good about themselves and have good relationships. They can keep problems in perspective.”

Emotional health, behavioral health, and mental health are often used equally and generally reflect the same idea.

Why is Good Emotional Health Important?

Good emotional health is a key piece of overall health. Emotionally healthy people manage bad feelings in a positive way. For example, they:

  • Appropriately express feelings
  • Deal better with stress and anxiety
  • Have higher self-esteem
  • Are open to new ideas and challenges
  • Easily overcome obstacles

How Does Poor Emotional Health Negatively Affect a Person?

Poor emotional health can affect a person both mentally and physically. Often, our bodies physically respond to stress and anxiety. For instance, a recent study showed that 65% of people living with anxiety and depression were more likely to develop a heart condition. Additionally, 64% were more likely to have a stroke. Half were more likely to develop high blood pressure. Lastly, 87% were more likely to develop arthritis.

Emotional distress can also cause other physical problems like:

  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach pain
  • Nausea
  • Shortness of Breath
  • Back pain
  • Insomnia

How Can Poor Physical Health Affect Overall Health?

Likewise, poor physical health can cause poor emotional health. Research shows that the brain produces substances that improve health. But WHAT it produces depends in part on emotional health. If you’re not feeling physically well, but are optimistic, your brain will produce chemicals to boost your physical health. However, when you experience negative thoughts and emotions, your brain won’t.

Additionally, those with poor emotional health don’t often address their health care needs. So while they may experience health problems, they don’t often do anything to address them.

This certainly doesn’t mean that having good emotional health is a “cure-all.” But, it does mean that it positively affects physical healing.

How Does Emotional Health Affect Job Performance?

It can affect the workplace in many ways, including:

  • Higher medical costs
  • More missed workdays
  • Lower productivity
  • Poor morale and engagement
  • Broken connections between co-workers

Think about this:

Depression interferes with a person’s ability to complete physical job tasks about 20% of the time and reduces mental performance about 35% of the time.

Employees at high risk of depression have the highest health care costs during the 3 years after an initial health risk assessment.

Depression costs employers an estimated $44 billion each year in lost productivity.

How Has COVID Affected Emotional Health?

COVID has greatly affected emotional health. As a result, people are dealing with more than they’ve had to deal with before. Fear, isolation, and more responsibility are overwhelming for many. Now, more than ever, we must address these issues. Not only to remain successful as a business, but to support the employees that make us successful.

What is the Effect of Poor Emotional Health on Quality of Life?

Quality of life is influenced by a number of things. Some things that affect our quality of life include:

  • Financial security
  • Having a daily purpose
  • Education
  • Social belonging
  • Emotional/physical health

When a person experiences poor emotional health, their overall quality of life can be negatively affected. First, they have less interest in building relationships with others. Second, they struggle to be resilient in tough situations. For example, they may have trouble adjusting to change at work. Third, they have little desire to participate in activities at and outside of work.

What Can Employers Do?

When employers help employees feel happy, everything falls into place. They work harder. They’re more engaged. Therefore, they’re more supportive of your organization.

So what can employers to do help employees feel good about themselves? They need to offer resources, education, and tools that promote positive emotional health. Mental and emotional health programs work. Common issues like anxiety, stress, and depression are highly treatable if employees get the right care at the right time.

Expert Tips to Support Employee Emotional Health

It can be difficult for employers to figure out how to best support emotional health in the workplace. Here are a few expert tips on how to do so.

Eliminate the Stigma

First, you must eliminate the stigma surrounding emotional health care. 75% of employees in America struggle with an issue that could affect their mental health. However, 80% of workers with a mental health condition say that shame and stigma prevent them from seeking treatment. Create a culture of communication, openness, acceptance, and understanding. Teach managers to have open conversations about mental health. Help them be proactive in supporting workers who show signs of struggle. Be thoughtful about what you say and how you say it, so employees feel supported and understood.

Offer Self-Guided Resources and Tools

Second, you need to offer relevant, guided self-help resources and tools. Sometimes, employees aren’t ready to see a counselor in person. Or maybe they don’t have the time for an appointment. Perhaps they’re looking for guidance to change bad habits like smoking or overeating. As an employer, it’s important for you to offer your employees additional support.

Provide Access to Virtual Care

Third, you should consider offering employees access to virtual emotional health care. While during the pandemic, many people didn’t have a choice but to seek virtual care, a new study suggests that more than half of those people will want to keep going with virtual mental health care even after the pandemic subsides.

Offer Guidance by Certified Professionals

Next, offer guidance by certified professionals who can help employees get connected to face-to-face care when needed. When employees are identified as at-risk, employees should be referred to in-person support for ongoing, short-term counseling and/or treatment.

Include Full Mental Health Coverage

Lastly, be sure to include full mental health coverage as part of your health care plan. While you already follow parity regulations, consider increasing coverage. Some health plans can interpret mental health claims more stringently than other medical claims. Some have stricter guidelines for treatment. To have true parity, eliminate disparities.

How Can WellOnMyWay Help?

WellOnMyWay includes fully integrated, best-in-class behavioral and mental health screenings, programs, treatments, and follow-up. Employees are taught empowering beliefs, rational responses, and healthy behaviors. As a result, they learn to conquer negative thoughts and unhealthy behaviors.

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The SentryHealth Difference

SentryHealth drives better health nationwide through personalized, full-service integrated health management. Our approach to employee health ensures that we address issues affecting the whole person, including emotional, physical, social, and financial health. Employers experience greater ROI and VOI, better employee satisfaction, and improved recruitment and retention. To learn more, contact us.