Mental Health Awareness Month: How to Have Happier Employees


Happy, educated employees are retained employees. In fact, studies show that approximately 40 percent of employees who do not receive adequate training end up leaving their post within just one year.

In fact, occupational training programs grew significantly last year, as more than one-quarter of workplace learning and development leaders saw their budgets increase, according to research from LinkedIn. More significantly, an estimated 69 percent indicated that the executives at their respective organizations saw talent development as the top priority.

But while addressing evolving workplace training challenges and trends is certainly important, HR leaders and other learning and development stakeholders should remember to devote energy toward the basics – essential instructional topics that maintain their relevance, despite churning headlines.

Mental Health in Workplace – and the Benefits of Training

An estimated 20 percent of American adults suffer from mental illness, researchers for the National Alliance on Mental Illness found. Unfortunately, the workplace often exacerbates the symptoms that accompany common psychological conditions such as depression and anxiety. In some cases, particularly stressful professional environments can trigger the development of mental illness in previously healthy individuals, and the societal stigma surrounding mental illness further worsens the situation, discouraging individuals with serious psychological conditions from accessing treatment. In fact, only half of American adults suffering from such sicknesses actually seek treatment, according to NAMI.

Businesses that fail to offer guidance and support to employees with mental illnesses often see the results of such negligence in the books. For example, depression and anxiety lead to losses in productivity that sap $1 trillion from the global economy every year, the World Health Organization discovered.

So businesses in every sector should offer workplace training programs that raise awareness around mental illness and offer actionable solutions for individuals with existing conditions or those in high-stress roles that may precipitate the onset of serious psychological disorders. Such instruction is particularly important for supervisors, according to the American Psychiatric Association. Why? These operational leaders are responsible for accommodating employees with mental illness, as well as spotting the warning signs that may signal the initial development of these conditions.

Workplace Training: The Essentials

It’s easy to see how direct mental health awareness programs and actions can benefit a workforce, but there are other lesser-recognized training opportunities that can also serve to improve mental health in the workplace.

Here are just a few essential workplace subjects that have a direct impact on mental health that every organization can address with workplace training programs:

Sexual harassment

Recent highly publicized incidents of workplace sexual harassment have thrust the topic into the public consciousness. Employees in virtually every industry have long dealt with this issue. In fact, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission handled 30,000 sexual harassment cases in 2015, helping victims gain more than $160 million in settlements. Sadly, far more incidents of sexual harassment likely unfold, as 75 percent of victims do not report the unwanted advances of their coworkers in fear of retaliation, the EEOC found. For this reason, the National Women’s Law Center estimates that 25 percent of working women have experienced sexual harassment.

As such, many businesses are now instructing HR teams to not only offer mandatory sexual harassment training, but also beef up instructional offerings with more nuanced modules, such as office party behavior.

Active shooter situations

The prevalence of workplace shootings is another pressing issue for modern businesses and the effect they could potentially have on the health of their employees. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, instances of workplace homicide become more common since 2013 and of the more than 1,200 homicides committed at businesses between 2013 and 2015, an estimated 88 percent involved assailants wielding firearms. This data, along with very public mass shootings such as the one Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida this year, unsurprisingly have organizations on high alert, The Associated Press reported.

So training programs that address workplace shootings serve to at least cover the basic three-step reaction workflow law enforcement agencies say is effective. According to the National Safety Council, groups like the Department of Homeland Security advise employees involved in workplace shooting incidents to take one of the following three courses of action: run, hide or fight.

Business ethics

In 2013, analysts from the Ethics and Compliance Initiative, an American think tank and compliance organization devoted to studying ethics in the workplace, connected with more than 6,500 U.S. professionals as part of its regular National Business Ethics Survey. Over 40 percent of respondents reported observing misconduct in the workplace. Managers were involved in 60 percent of these incidents, which ranged from violating internet policies to offering clients and public officials bribes, according to the ECI. Of the employees who saw these activities unfold, a mere 60 percent reported them. The other 40 percent chose not to notify HR in fear of suffering retaliation, something 20 percent of workers who report wrongdoing experience.

Businesses can avoid these situations and lay the groundwork for ethical work climates by providing ethics training. However, this instruction cannot take place for the sole purpose of compliance, Harvard Business Review reported. Ethics training should give employees the insight and skills needed to act ethically – and help their colleagues do the same. For example, an effective ethics training module might address themes like compassion and fairness as they relate to evaluating the motivations behind and addressing unethical behavior in the workplace.

For mental-health impacting subjects like these – and countless others, Vector Solutions offers hand-picked courses that every employee should take – regardless of role or industry. Our award-winning workplace safety training courses offer employees information critical for keeping workplaces safer, healthier and more secure.

A few essential workplace training topics include:

  • Violence Prevention and Active Shooter
  • Mental Wellness
  • Sexual Harassment Prevention
  • Financial Wellness
  • Cybersecurity Awareness
  • Ethics
  • Time Management and Prioritization
  • Slip and Fall Prevention
  • Email Communication
  • Social Media Best Practices
  • Drugs and Alcohol

As workplace training evolves, organizations must continue to focus on core subjects that will maintain their relevance far longer than trendy instruction practices or technologies.

For more information about mental health training, explore all of our Workplace Essentials Curriculum here.

Want to Know More?

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