Today is the the 7th annual “Bell Let’s Talk ” day
by John Zettler
Today is the the 7th annual “Bell Let’s Talk ” day, so I thought it prudent to talk about a topic that we should all care about – Mental Health. As Business Leaders and/or Owners, if you ever wondered whether you should be concerned with this topic, the research I conducted to prepare for this article certainly suggests YES. Mental Health, largely consisting of Stress and Worry, costs Canadian employers in upwards of $33 billion dollars annually and that doesn’t include treatment costs which is estimated at an additional $20 Billion for a total of approximately $55 Billion dollars (yes, that’s with a “B”). The number in the US is in upwards of $350 Billion. The impact to your business goes beyond monetary implications. The emotional and psychological impacts are many. Now, by no means do I profess to be an expert on this topic but I was able to find some staggering statistics that I wanted to share with you all.
The cost of stress and mental health in the workplace is significant
- Costs to your business include, but are not limited to: absenteeism, productivity loss, turnover, stress-related illness, presenteeism, short/long term disability claims (and premium increases), benefit utilization increases (and premium increases), workers compensation, return to work accommodation, etc.
- It’s estimated that over 35 million workdays are lost to mental health conditions. On any given week, more than 500,000 Canadians will not go to work because of mental illness – Mental Health Commission of Canada
The Facts about Mental Health
- 1 in 5 Canadians will experience a form of mental illness at some point in their life – Canadian Institute of Health Research
- In Canada only 1 out of 5 children who need mental health services receives them – CMHA
- 2 in 3 people suffer in silence fearing judgment and rejection – Canadian Medical Association
- Only 49% of Canadians said they would socialize with a friend who has a serious mental illness – Canadian Medical Association
- 27% of Canadians are fearful of being around people who suffer from mental illness – Canadian Medical Association
- At this very moment, some 3 million Canadians are suffering from depression – CMHA
For more statistics please visit – http://letstalk.bell.ca/en/ways-to-help
Now, I certainly appreciate that what I’m outlining below are ideas Leaders/Employers can use to help manage stress. Also, what individuals can do to manage stress does not speak directly to mental health, and these suggestions in and of themselves won’t remove mental health – my hope for adding these suggestions is to help you and your teams think about how to help employees better cope with stress.
How Leaders/Employers Can Help Manage Stress in the Workplace
- Introduce Workplace Wellness Programs – Encourage your employees to get involved in activities that promote healthy lifestyles. Programs such as gym subsidies or healthy eating clinics or even having subject matter experts come speak to employees on relevant topics can be helpful.
- Create an Environment that Promotes Social Activity – Creating a culture where people feel part of a family is important on many levels – including people’s ability to feel like they fit in. Encourage activities that support interaction – lunches, after hours events, games, etc.
- Communicate with Employees – Employees need to feel safe to communicate with their Leaders. Create an environment of open feedback, communication about company happenings, performance expectations and most of all develop relationships where people feel safe in letting you know how they’re feeling.
- Consider Schedule and Location Agility – Our work environment is changing and the expectations of your employees are changing along with it. When employees don’t feel like they are in control of their entire life, which includes their family, it adds stress and worry which can have significant impacts. I’m not suggesting you have to let all employees work remotely, what I’m suggesting is you consider how to support a healthy balance.
- Promote and Develop Emotional Intelligence (EI) – This response comes directly from Daniel Goleman, one of the most widely recognized contributors to our understanding of EI. Goleman says:
“Emotional intelligence should help you handle stress better, for several reasons. There are four parts to EI: self-awareness, self-management, empathy and social skill. Self-awareness can help you notice when you are becoming stressed, which in turn make you better able to calm down before your reaction builds to an unmanageable level. Empathy and social skills should allow you to be more effective in how you express yourself-including knowing how and when to be candid.”
Managing Stress in the Workplace
Dale Carnegie saw how important this topic was and wrote a second best seller – “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living.” He developed 30 principles for how we can manage stress in the workplace which I’d like to pass on to you today.
Fundamental Principles for Overcoming Worry
1. Live in “day-tight compartments.”
2. How to face trouble:
a. Ask yourself, “What is the worst that can possibly happen?”
b. Prepare to accept the worst.
c. Try to improve on the worst.
3. Remind yourself of the exorbitant price you can pay for worry in terms of your health.
As the “Bell Let’s Talk” website says – “Talking is the best way to start breaking down the barriers associated with mental illness.” With that said, my encouragement to you is the following: Today, let’s all text, talk and tweet like never before to continue to raise money and awareness for this important topic. Also, I encourage you to start the conversation at your organization by requesting a toolkit at the following link – http://letstalk.bell.ca/en/toolkit/
John Zettler, Director, Talent Strategy
& Development, Dale Carnegie Training®
Contact me at 905-826-7300 x 235 or firstname.lastname@example.org