LIFE at RCIL offers advice for better mental health at work


Employers who view mental health treatment with the same urgency as physical health create a culture of openness and support for their employees. Feeling overwhelmed, anxious or irritable, depressed, unable to concentrate, having frequent panic attacks and / or headaches can interfere with our personal and professional roles.

With 8 in 10 adult Americans reporting the pandemic as a significant source of stress in their lives, sensitivity is key to reducing absenteeism, job rotation and poor performance, according to mental health experts.

The lived experience of disability, including mental health disability, is unique to each individual and can vary widely among individuals who share the same diagnosis. Despite the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) over 30 years ago outlawing discrimination based on disability, the stigma associated with mental illness remains strong.

This is illustrated by recent surveys showing that 63% of employees with a mental illness have not disclosed it to their employer, according to the CEO Roundtable Center for Workplace Health at the American Heart Association. A supportive, rather than punitive, action or response provides the flexibility workers need and fosters a culture of well-being. According to mental health experts, when employer-sponsored wellness benefits, training and other supports are available to all employees, everyone benefits.

Mental health has been an issue in the workplace long before transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus caused COVID-19 to spread to pandemic levels, but it has helped draw attention to the connection body-mind and how damaging relentless stress can be on the physical. health.

Recognizing that more workers may be struggling financially, caring for sick parents or sick children, home-schooling children, or experiencing divorce or death, this means that sponsored interventions by the employer go a long way in helping workers get through periods of increased stress. , according to LIFE at the Independent Living Resource Center in Utica.

Here are four ways companies are creating improved work environments that put mental health first; the type of work cultures where employees want to be and want to stay:

Manager training – Supervisors who understand the signs of emotional distress and who can provide meaningful support are essential. Research suggests that the ability to be open and authentic at work leads to better performance and engagement (Van den Bosch, 2014). Staff who arrive late more often, who call patients more often than usual, or who do not meet deadlines are all signs of a generally high performing employee whose adaptability has diminished.

Direction – Managers should meet frequently with staff to see how things are going. Reminding staff to take breaks, walk over their lunch, or take time to relax shows understanding and concern for well-being. By providing additional opportunities to be open and upfront about stressors that they and their families may be facing, management has additional opportunities to address mental health issues early on and provide support and guidance. orientation needed to get help.

Employee Assistance Program (EAP) – These offer free and confidential assessments, short-term counseling, referrals for long-term counseling, and follow-up supports to employees struggling with personal and / or work-related issues. Many EAPs help organizations prevent and cope with workplace trauma or violence, address issues affecting mental and emotional well-being (including substance abuse, stress, bereavement and family issues) and work collaboratively with managers to address staff and organizational challenges. .

Priority to well-being Companies spend extra money on employees who fall ill and require more medical treatment. Mental health resources and wellness services should be integrated into benefit plans if they are not already. Educating and supporting employees through unusual and difficult times that turn routines and expectations upside down means coming out stronger and more capable as an organization.

Contact LIFE at RCIL to learn more about the programs and services available for people with physical, sensory, cognitive and mental disabilities. Call 1-800-627-2981 or visit us online at

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