Mental health is as important as physical health, which is a huge factor when taking workplace health and safety. Therefore occupation acknowledgment, respect and treatment of mental illnesses should be a top priority of employers.

Whether or not one’s occupation is the root of their mental health struggle, it is an employers job to understand that mental health has an impact on individual’s lives as a whole and access to help can make for a healthier, more productive employee.

One’s mental health can have a large impact on their professional performance. Disorders such as anxiety, depression and ADHD can take a toll on one’s day-to-day quality of life and work. An employee dealing with such disorders may struggle to participate in social aspects at work, concentrate on one task at a time, put their full attention and effort into daily tasks, and often feel like they can’t bring their mental health needs to their employers attention.

According to a study by The Anxiety and Depression Association of America, fewer than half of employees whose stress interferes with work have not brought it to their employers attention out of fear. Thirty-four percent feared their boss would interpret their stress and anxiety as an unwillingness to do the activity, 31 percent feared being labeled weak, 22 percent feared it would affect promotion opportunities and it would go into their file, 20 percent feared not being taken seriously.

The mental health stigma should have no place in a healthy and safe work environment. A part of safety in the workplace is ensuring each employee feels safe enough to express their needs and when they need help. Every employee should feel confident and comfortable enough to discuss any mental health issues with their employer, especially if they are seeking help. Sadly, not every attempt to discuss mental health issues is met with answers and efforts by the employer.

ADAA’s study showed that only four in ten employees were offered help from their employer, which consisted mainly of a referral to a mental health professional and stress-management class. The Center for Workplace Mental Health says that 1 in 5 adults will experience a diagnosable mental illness in any given year. Of those, more than half will go untreated. Of those experiencing a diagnosable mental illness that were treated, more than 80 percent reported improved levels of work efficacy and satisfaction.

Treatment for mental illness works. It is cost-effective, increases productivity, lowers absenteeism and overall good for business. The foundation of an effective workplace is the quality of life found there. Employee quality of life can’t be high when mental health isn’t acknowledged and treated. Mental illness should be received the same as any other medical illness an employee is dealing with.

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