How Mental Health Can Improve A Company's “S” Score

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by Eric Burdon
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In the few years leading up to the pandemic, we as a society have grown comfortable with the idea of talking about mental health. But as the COVID-19 pandemic and social isolation from it started to sink in, the more we realised that both companies and individuals weren’t easily equipped to handle the situation.

We learned that mental health issues were not as visible and that these issues could disrupt everyday tasks beyond work. Worse, the solutions can sometimes backfire or hinder recovery.

Companies are feeling the pinch the most as society has encouraged the idea that we should be looking after our mental health so much that taking time off routinely is appropriate. For larger companies, this doesn’t pose as much of an issue, but when every employee counts in small or medium-sized businesses, companies need to find a balance between giving employees enough time to look after their well-being and keeping the lights on.

Despite mental health being a big problem, addressing this issue and implementing effective methods can make a difference. Here is how companies can improve their mental health and their social scores too.

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Ensure People Are Heard

Even if people had mild experiences during the pandemic, the mental effects of the pandemic can still linger for years. Beyond that, employees can be faced with all kinds of stressors over the course of the day. Things like client or employer expectations, requirement changes, higher workloads, increased costs of living, or business operating costs.

There is no shortage of reasons to feel stressed out about something. But what’s worse is not having much of an opportunity to let that all out.

The reason AI therapists are so popular is that in a world where therapist shortages are everywhere, a chatbot or ChatGPT feels like a better and faster option than paying thousands to see an actual therapist.

Part of it comes from the anonymity of talking about what’s on your mind to an insentient machine.

Businesses can adopt a similar approach by creating an anonymous mental health box where employees can discuss mental health issues that can then be brought up in group meetings. Another consideration is having managers or staff, regardless of department, check up on people and ask if they can help in any way.

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Existing System Are Well Received

One of the reasons companies might struggle with implementing a mental health programme is the cost associated with it. Fortunately, there are several ways that the cost of having an in-house therapist can be kept low. Consider the Mental Health First Aid certification programme. Each country has its own system for this, along with a series of courses that staff can go through.

This particular training is designed to remove the fear and hesitation that come from talking about mental health issues. It further provides action plans that guide people to address and identify potential mental illnesses.

This programme is well received, and having staff go through it can improve their overall health. After all, one of the largest barriers to mental health problems is not being heard. This training can remove that barrier.

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Dealing With Mental Health Also Deals With Other Employee And Social Issues

Even with technology moving quickly and companies trying to optimise it as much as possible, they still can’t deny that human capital still plays a crucial role in all this. That much was clear when the Lancet Commission report projected that unmet mental health conditions would cost the global economy US$16 trillion in lost output.

Everything between the rising costs of health and disability claims, absences, reduced productivity, and losing talent forms that total. All of these things can easily be connected to a lack of mental health coverage and not enough support in that area. Therefore, focusing on mental health illness amongst employees can help with clearing their problems and, in turn, resolving other company issues such as employee retention, lost productivity, and bolstering company culture.

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Make Mental Health A Part Of Company Culture

From entry-level employees all the way to the owners themselves, people can’t avoid mental health issues. And at a time when most of us are more than comfortable talking about these issues, having a space at work can make a big difference right now.

But more importantly than that, this is an opportunity for businesses to begin addressing smaller issues when it comes to ESG concerns. Even when a company can’t become fully sustainable, the mental health of employees can be enough for companies to do good for those who work for them and the community around them.

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