Why Mental Health is Often Missing from Business Culture

The Overlooked Priority: Why Mental Health is Often Missing from Business Values and Culture

Mental health in the workplace is no longer a topic that can be ignored or relegated to the sidelines. Yet, despite increasing awareness of its importance, many businesses still fail to incorporate mental health into their core values and culture.

I recently conducted a poll on LinkedIn which asked:

“Is the culture of a business just as important to the mental health of the workforce as any mental health support program?”

The results were a resounding 100% yes!

This oversight can have consequences for both employees and the overall success of the business. Below, we look into the top five reasons why mental health is often left out of business values and culture, and why it’s crucial for companies to address this gap.

1. Stigma and Misunderstanding

One of the biggest reasons mental health is overlooked in the workplace is due to the lingering stigma and widespread misunderstanding surrounding mental health issues. Despite progress in recent years, many people still hold outdated and incorrect beliefs about mental health. This means they are probably viewing it as a personal weakness or a topic best kept private. This stigma can spread throughout the business culture, leading to a lack of open dialogue and support for mental health initiatives.

Impact: The stigma surrounding mental health can stop employees from seeking help or discussing their struggles. This, in turn, leads to untreated mental health conditions, reduced productivity, and increased absenteeism. A culture that does not openly support mental health can create a toxic environment of fear and silence, further increasing the problem. We talk about the effect of toxic cultures in THIS article.

2. Lack of Awareness and Education

Another barrier to including mental health into business culture and values is the lack of awareness and education among leadership and employees. Many business leaders may not fully understand the importance of mental health or how to approach and address it. Without proper education and training, mental health can remain a low priority compared to other business objectives.

Impact: Without awareness and education, businesses may fail to see the signs of mental health issues among their staff and miss opportunities to provide support. This can lead to a workforce that is not equipped to handle mental health challenges, ultimately affecting overall morale and productivity.

3. Perceived Costs and Resource Allocation

Businesses often operate under tight budgets and may perceive mental health initiatives as an additional expense that does not directly contribute to the bottom line. This short-term, cost-focused mindset is highly mistaken and can result in mental health being passed over in favour of initiatives that are seen as more directly profitable.

Impact: Neglecting mental health can lead to long-term costs that far outweigh the initial investment required for mental health programs. These costs can include increased healthcare expenses, higher turnover rates, and lost productivity due to untreated mental health issues. Investing in mental health can actually provide a significant return on investment by improving employee well-being and productivity. Some studies show an ROI of 500% – 800%. We discuss the costs of mental health to a business in THIS article.

4. Focus on Physical Health and Safety

Traditionally, workplace health programs have focused primarily on physical health and safety, with mental health often taking a backseat. This focus on physical health is partly due to regulatory requirements and the more visible nature of physical health issues. As a result, mental health can be overshadowed by physical health initiatives. However the HSE have now included mental health in their recommendations. Read more about that HERE.

Impact: An exclusive focus on physical health can result in an unbalanced approach to employee well-being. While physical health is without doubt important, mental health is equally crucial  connected with physical health. Ignoring mental health can lead to a less comprehensive approach to employee wellness, leaving significant gaps in support.

5. Short-Term Thinking and Lack of Vision

Many businesses operate with a short-term mindset, focusing on immediate goals and quick wins rather than long-term sustainability and employee well-being. This lack of vision can prevent businesses from seeing the long-term benefits of including mental health into their values and business culture.

Impact: Short-term thinking can lead to burnout, high turnover rates, and an unhappy workforce. By failing to invest in mental health, businesses miss out on the opportunity to create a resilient, motivated, and loyal team that sustains success.

Addressing the Gap: Integrating Mental Health into Business Culture

To overcome these barriers and effectively integrate mental health into business values and business culture, businesses need to be proactive. Below are some strategies to help bridge the gap:

1. Leadership Commitment:

Change starts from the top. Leaders must demonstrate a genuine commitment to mental health. By openly discussing it, including it in company policies, and leading by example they show the workforce how committed they are. This includes investing in mental health programs and initiatives that support employee well-being. While ensuring that mental health is part of their long term business culture.

2. Education and Training:

Provide regular education and training for both leaders and employees on mental health awareness, stigma reduction, and how to access support. This can help create a more informed and empathetic workplace. Ad-hoc training tends to be much less successful. Ongoing training an workshops re-iterate the knowledge.

3. Allocate Resources:

Realise that investing in mental health is an investment in the company’s future. Allocate  resources to develop and maintain mental health programs, such as Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs),  and wellness initiatives.

4. Measure Progress:

Mental health resources and programs should be seen as any other business resource. They should be checked and measured regularly for effectiveness. An anonymous workforce mental health assessment can help to identify issues and areas for improvement.

5. Long-Term Vision:

Shift from a short-term mindset to a long-term vision that includes employee well-being as a key driver of business success. Develop policies and practices that support sustainable mental health and create a supportive and inclusive business culture.

Make mental health in your business culture a priority

Incorporating mental health into business culture and values is not just a moral and ethical thing to do, it is also a strategic advantage. By addressing the reasons why mental health is often overlooked and taking proactive steps to incorporate it into the workplace, businesses can create a supportive environment. One that promotes employee well-being, productivity, and long-term success. It’s time for businesses to recognise that the mental health of their workforce is a critical component of their overall health and performance.

Click the links below to find out more:

The Workplace Mental Health Induction Workshop

The Workforce Mental Health Assessment

Mental Health First Aid Training

Mental Health Online Workshop Support Program

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