Mental health is a critical concern for all companies. One in five individuals will experience a mental health problem during their lives, according to the World Health Organization. For many people, the workplace is where mental health problems first begin and/or become exacerbated.
Research from the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology found employers vastly overestimate their employees’ well-being. The survey found managers rated their employees’ well-being as 7.4 out of 10 while employees rated their well-being as 5.8 out of 10.
According to FEFO’s Health and Safety Index benchmark data, health and well-being have been the lowest-scoring areas for health and safety professionals looking to improve their health and safety programs over the past couple of years. Health and well-being scored 73 percent in 2021 and 74 percent in 2022 when compared to safety systems (75 percent in 2021 and 76 percent in 2022), safety leadership (77 percent in 2021 and 78 percent in 2022), and safety engagement (75 percent in 2021 and 77 percent in 2022).
Employers must focus on how they can better understand employees’ well-being to create a culture where employees feel comfortable talking about their struggles and provide support for employees’ mental health.
Mental Health in the Workplace
Rates of anxiety, depression, and substance use disorders increased during the pandemic across the world, at work and beyond. For example:
- In COVID-19’s first year, worldwide anxiety and depression spiked by 25 percent, said the World Health Organization
- As the National Institutes of Health reported, nearly half of Americans surveyed reported recent anxiety or depressive disorder symptoms, and 10 percent of respondents felt their mental health needs were not being met
- Since COVID-19, workplace stress has increased for 44 percent of workers across Europe, said an OSH Pulse survey, with more than one in two respondents saying they are exposed to severe time pressure or work overload
Although the federal Public Health Emergency (PHE) for COVID-19 ended on May 11, 2023, this does not mean COVID-19’s related stressors are over.
Providing mental health care costs companies money. Costs associated with providing mental health care to employees include the cost of therapy, medication, and hospitalization. Organizations spend over $15,000 annually on each employee experiencing mental health issues, reported the National Safety Council.
Many factors can contribute to employees’ mental health problems in the workplace, including:
- Work overload
- Lack of control over one’s work
- Bullying or harassment
- Unfair pay or benefits
- Poor physical working conditions
Challenges of Psychosocial Reporting Around the World
Reporting psychosocial challenges proves a viable solution to ensure employers can document and adequately address issues as soon as they emerge. However, with so many companies and organizations now operating more virtually and globally than before, this can prove complex, namely because the challenges of psychosocial reporting across countries or regions can vary depending on many factors.
In some countries, for example, there may be a legal requirement to report psychosocial incidents to the government. In other countries, there may be no such requirement. And, even when there is a legal requirement, the way incidents are reported can vary from country to country.
Here are some examples of how psychosocial reporting across countries or regions can vary:
- Cultural differences: Different cultures have different ways of understanding and expressing emotions. This can lead to different ways of reporting psychosocial problems. For example, in some cultures, it is considered shameful to admit to feeling depressed or anxious. As a result, people in these cultures may be less likely to report these problems to a doctor or other health professional.
- Language barriers: If people do not speak the language of the country they are living in, they may not be able to access mental health services. They may also be less likely to report problems to a doctor or other health professional because they do not want to be misunderstood.
- Access to healthcare: In some countries, there is a lack of mental health professionals or resources. This can make it difficult for people to access the care they need.
- Social stigma: In some cultures, mental illness is seen as a sign of weakness or failure. As a result, people may be afraid of being stigmatized if they admit to having a mental health problem.
- Economic factors: In countries with high poverty levels, people may be more likely to experience psychosocial problems. They may also be less likely to have access to mental health services.
- Legal requirements: Some countries have laws that require employers to provide mental health support to their employees. This can lead to increased reporting of psychosocial problems, as employees feel more comfortable seeking help.
- Compliance: Employers in some countries are required to comply with regulations that address psychosocial risks in the workplace. This can lead to increased awareness of psychosocial problems and to efforts to reduce them.
- Lack of legal requirements: In some countries, there are no laws or regulations that address psychosocial risks in the workplace. This can lead to a lack of awareness of these problems and to a lack of efforts to reduce them.
- Difficulties in enforcement: In some countries, it can be difficult to enforce laws or regulations that address psychosocial risks in the workplace. This can lead to a lack of compliance and a continuation of these problems.
An additional consideration is that certain countries may have different legal requirements and compliance issues compared to others related to psychosocial reporting. Just a few examples include:
- United States: California has a law that requires employers with 50 or more employees to provide mental health services to their employees.
- United Kingdom: The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 requires employers to take steps to protect the health and safety of their employees. This includes protecting employees from psychosocial risks.
- Australia: The Occupational Health and Safety Act 2000 requires employers to take steps to eliminate or minimize risks to the health and safety of their employees. This includes risks from psychosocial factors.
- Brazil: Has a law that requires employers with more than 100 employees to provide mental health services to their employees. This law is designed to help employees cope with the stress and demands of work.
- India: Does not have any federal laws that specifically address psychosocial risks in the workplace. However, several state laws do address these issues. For example, the Maharashtra government has issued a notification that requires all employers with 100+ employees to provide mental health services to their employees.
- Mexico: The Federal Labor Law requires employers to conduct a psychosocial risk assessment in workplaces with 50+ employees. This assessment must identify and assess psychosocial risks present in the workplace and must develop measures to control these risks.
There are other workplace-related factors that can impact reporting. Some of these include:
- Size: Larger corporations may have more complex reporting requirements than smaller corporations
- Industry: For example, the healthcare industry may have more stringent reporting requirements than the retail industry
- Location: Different countries have different laws and regulations governing psychosocial reporting
- Technology: The use of technology can also affect psychosocial reporting. For example, corporations that use electronic health records may be able to collect and track psychosocial data more easily than corporations that do not
- Corporate culture: For example, in a culture that values open communication, employees may be more likely to report psychosocial problems
- Resources: For example, a corporation with a large budget may be able to provide more support to employees struggling with psychosocial problems
How can organizations confidentially manage and address psychosocial events and hazards to increase employee confidence? Regarding the cultural, language, access, stigma, and economic factors that may influence reporting, we must work to better understand the true prevalence of psychosocial problems in different parts of the world.
The Need for a Psychosocial Technological Tool to Streamline Mental Health Modules
Psychosocial tools are critical in a workplace setting. For example, SAI360’s psychosocial management tool helps organizations manage employees’ psychosocial risks to support employees, save costs, increase retention, increase employee engagement, and drive continued industry innovation.
Some benefits include reduced absenteeism, improved employee well-being and health, better productivity, and reduced legal liability by ensuring compliance with legal requirements associated with psychosocial risks.
Additionally, SAI360’s suite of Psychosocial Health and Safety courses designed specifically for today’s workplace helps employees recognize psychosocial safety is a critical workplace issue and drives a more inclusive culture where well-being is prioritized and valued.
Psychosocial workplace training is becoming increasingly common as employers recognize the importance of employee mental health. This training can help employees identify and manage stress, improve communication and conflict resolution skills, and create a more supportive work environment. Some common topics covered include:
- Stress management
- Coping with change
- Assertiveness training
- Conflict resolution
- Diversity and inclusion
Psychosocial workplace training can be delivered in a variety of formats, including in-person workshops, online courses, and webinars, and can be tailored to the needs of the organization and its employees.
By providing employees with the skills and knowledge to manage stress, improve communication, and create a more supportive work environment, employers can help to create a healthier and more productive workplace.
SAI360’s Psychosocial Risk & Hazards Management Offerings
SAI360’s psychosocial offerings offer a turnkey, comprehensive solution that helps organizations manage their mental health-related risks and hazards and identify opportunities to improve employees’ mental health outcomes and business outcomes.
Capturing psychosocial hazards and risk factors data helps Human Resources professionals and Environment, Health, and Safety (EHS) experts identify, assess, control, review, and monitor such events with greater ease.
SAI360’s offering includes capabilities that can help organizations improve their mental health outcomes, including:
- A psychosocial events management module that allows organizations to securely record, investigate, and manage psychosocial incidents
- A suite of Psychosocial Health and Safety courses that provides employees with information and resources about mental health
A key benefit of SAI360’s solutions is increased awareness of the need to address psychosocial issues within the workplace. For example, the psychosocial events management module provides a comprehensive set of tools for assessing, mitigating, and reporting on psychosocial incidents so worker reports can identify early on which psychosocial hazards are not being managed effectively and may harm workers’ mental and physical health. This way, issues can be addressed sooner than later with controlled measures, thanks to the early understanding and recognition that an underlying or potential issue may be present and may need addressing.
Call to Action
Let’s start a discussion. For more information about SAI360’s psychosocial capabilities, visit sai360.com
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