Mental Health and the Modern Workplace

Photo of Raazi Imam

adult anger angryEach year suicide is said to take more lives than automobile accidents. The tragedies of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade earlier this year highlight the profound need for mental health awareness within our society.

As the rates of suicide have sharply risen in the U.S, mental illness should no longer be a taboo subject. It is highly important that we actively work to shift this archaic perception, now more than ever, and especially within the workplace.  

In light of this, I took it upon myself to email all Caiman Consultants. Why? Because in attempt to eliminate the stigma, I wanted them to know that mental health in the workplace does matter. I wanted them to know that Caiman is a culture that cares about how they are doing as human beings.

The ability to imagine how the world looks through the eyes of others is fundamental to being successful in navigating life. At work, we are often so focused on the task at hand that we forget that the people we are interacting with every day have real lives going on outside of work. We never know what someone may be going through at any given time.

While all of us are not trained and equipped to heal or help with mental illness, we are all equipped to show kindness and compassion. We are equipped to have an “open door” that stays open to those who need to express their hopes and concerns. We are equipped to foster an environment that checks in with how people are doing.

Letting an employee or coworker know they are heard doesn’t cost a thing. Big budget or small, or none at all, kindness and caring costs not one penny. And it can make all the difference in your day or the day of one of your colleagues.

If you think mental health isn’t an issue in your workplace, take a look at these stats from the American Foundation For Suicide Prevention:

  • On average, there are 123 suicides per day in the United States.
  • The rate of suicide is highest in middle age white men.
  • 1 in every 25 of those adults will be so seriously impaired, that they are limited in the way they live their life on a daily basis.

18.5% of adults in the U.S. suffer from mental illness in any given year. Of that 18.5%, 9.8 million experience a serious mental illness that significantly interferes with one or more major life activities, including their jobs.

These numbers say a lot. They tell us we need to take mental health seriously.  They tell us we need to take our employees' mental state seriously.  Look around and evaluate how our employees are doing. Are they happy? Are they stressed? Angry? Depressed? Simply letting someone know you are there to talk is an effective first step.

While we may not have all the answers, while we may not be able to provide the exact solution, we can show we care. We can show that work isn’t just a place for task, but a place for human connection too.

And that human connection is the underlying fabric that creates great workplaces, long term relationships, and fulfilled lives. If you are in a business where people matter, this should matter to you.

If you are wondering whether or not mental health has an effect on the bottom line of business, consider this study from Salesforce, which found that "employees who feel their voice is heard at work are 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered to perform their best work." 

Foster that human connection aspect at work, and you’ll foster happier, engaged, high-performing employees.

If you or someone you know is struggling, there are resources out there.  As a starting point, reach out to your HR organization to learn what resources are available to you through your company.

Other resources exist as well:

  • The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: 1-888-333-2377
  • The Suicide Prevention Hotline:  1-800-273-8255

Listen, Learn, Engage, and Care.  #CaimanLife