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Importance of Emotional Health in The Workplace

Updated: Jan 3, 2019

Why is emotional health vital in the workplace?

Physical health in the workforce has been at the forefront of discussions among employees, employers, doctors, news outlets, social media and various other outlets. However, the topic of emotional health in the workplace seems to be more difficult to address.

When we talk about employee physical wellness, the discussion centers around eating healthy, exercising more, and work life balance. Our everyday activities are the very metrics that businesses are looking for in order to reduce costs. Healthier employees translate to lower insurance costs and lower absenteeism, which results in higher productivity. However, this is just one of the dimensions that needs to be analyzed in order to measure an employee’s overall well- being.

Emotional health is a dimension that is frequently overlooked by employers. Stress, anxiety, and depression are just a few of the emotional health issues affecting the workplace.

These issues have resulted in higher absenteeism and lower productivity, which is costing employers billions of dollars each year.

Let’s start with: what is Emotional health? The organization (n.d.) quotes the Mental Health Foundation: emotional health is "a positive state of wellbeing which enables an individual to be able to function in society and meet the demands of everyday life.” In other words, how employees behave, feel and think at work. Their reactions to setbacks, production issues, bad bosses, bullying or even a co-worker issue. We see it often when a small issue like a co-worker doesn’t wash his/her coffee mug leads to an outburst of anger between employees who are already are set to explode due to anxiety, stress and depression caused by their jobs.

These situations cannot be resolved only by a “talk” with HR. It needs to be addressed at a deeper level. Emotional health requires education, awareness, and the employer’s willingness to address and empower the employees to make choices that can help them improve their emotional health.

According to a survey conducted by Cigna in March 2018. “Nearly half of Americans report sometimes or always feeling alone (46 percent) or left out (47 percent).” The survey highlights the alarming number of people suffering from an emotional health problem.

“There is an inherent link between loneliness and the workplace, with employers in a unique position to be a critical part of the solution,” said Douglas Nemecek, M.D., chief medical officer for Behavioral Health at Cigna. “Fortunately, thfese results clearly point to the benefits meaningful in-person connections can have on loneliness, including those in the workplace…”

The results reaffirm the point that employers are part of the solution to the increase in emotional health problems that our society is experiencing today.

How do we support mental health at work?