August 13, 2019

Brooke Salazar - Mental health blog


Just 6 out of 10 Indiana employers offer an EAP

Let me tell you about a 15-year employee at an organization where he was consistently a top performer – until he switched his bipolar medication.

His manager was unaware of his condition and that he had switched medications; however, his manager noticed a shift in his behavior. The employee began having problems focusing and having angry outbursts. His manager was confronted with a dilemma to terminate or not to terminate based on performance.

Thankfully, the manager had attended Mental Health Awareness in the Workplace, Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and (American Disabilities Act) ADA training. Therefore, he knew he had better options than terminate or not terminate.

The manager simply asked how he could better support the employee because he had noticed a change in behavior. The employee advised the manager of his issues and the manager worked with the employee to provide him with the support he needed.

Upon receiving the support and space he needed to address his mental health, the organization retained a top performer. And other employees took notice of what had occurred and began to feel comfortable to address their own mental health needs with the organization.

Mental health issues can impact any of us at any time

Anyone can suffer from mental health issues – and over a lifetime most of us will. When these issues spill into the workplace, employee job performance, engagement, happiness and communication can all be affected.

It’s important for these conditions to be managed and treated, however, according to a 2017 survey conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), of the estimated 56.9 million U.S. adults with a behavioral health condition, seven out of 10 adults are not receiving treatment for their conditions.

Lack of treatment aggravates comorbidities—such as diabetes, hypertension, coronary artery disease, COPD and congestive heart failure—which results in higher medical costs.

Are you doing everything you can to address employee mental health issues in your workplace? Download “5 Solutions to Address Mental Health Issues in the Workplace.”

The importance of Employee Assistance Programs

According to the 2019 Apex Benefits Employee Benefits Benchmarking Study, just 62% of Indiana employers offer an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). But in the workplace, mental health issues are not something to be swept under the rug. In fact, 72% of employees want employers to champion mental health and well-being, more so than equality (48%), sustainability (38%) and diversity (31%) (SAMSHA 2017).

How often do you see an employee benefit and culture that transcends generations? In this case, the same study says all generations are looking for prioritization of mental health (see chart).

Employers can play an important role in helping employees who have mental health issues by encouraging utilization of resources, such as Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs), and creating a culture that promotes positive mental health.

The result? A healthier workforce. And reduced medical costs for employees and the organization.

Mental health is often not an easy topic to talk about in the workplace. But understanding what mental health programs and education are best for your workforce can play a vital role in addressing this issue – ultimately contributing to overall improvement in the health of your employees and your organization.