The role of organizations in improving global mental health

April 16, 2021
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The third sustainable development goal seeks to “ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing” for all. For organizations, the most prominent aspect of health is arguably mental health. Numerous factors such as life experiences and various social and economic environments are continually shaping our lives and influencing our mental health. According to the article, Understanding the Cost of Mental at Work, stress is the second most commonly reported work-related health problem. The article further estimates that 54% of working days in the UK are lost to “work-related stress, depression or anxiety.” Considering the economic implications of this statistic, any organization that ignores mental health is just aching to lose money. So how can organizations contribute to improving this global issue?

As the saying goes, “charity begins at home.” Organizations need to start with their employees. According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), 58.7% of the world’s population is employed. When we consider that employee mental health problems tend to have adverse effects on their families, Organizations, by focusing on improving mental health among their employees, can reduce mental health problems worldwide by more than half. This begs the question: how do organizations go about improving mental health among their employees? Let’s explore three relevant suggestions.

Firstly, every organization must have a mental health policy. Such a policy should define mental health goals, key activities to achieve them, the company’s role in providing a work-life balance, and personnel responsible for implementing the policy, among other things. As a physical exam is ordered to assess the physical ability of employees, an assessment of employees’ mental health is also necessary to determine risk factors further to help prevent the negative determinants of our psychological wellbeing and physical health. A mental health policy provides a rule book to which every stakeholder in the company is held and allows for early interventions. 

Secondly, organizations should create mental health education programs. The world’s employed population is connected to the unemployed population via familial relationships, friendships, proximity, etc. Educating employees on mental health is a great way to reach these people. According to the Corporate Wellness Magazine, PriMed Management Consulting, after conducting a health risk assessment in 2011, found that their employees ran significant risks of “depression, stress, and obesity.” PriMed hosted sessions to educate employees on mental health. PriMed also initiated programs to help employees deal with mental health issues. According to the magazine, this significantly improves things.

Thirdly, organisations need to integrate mental health into their evaluation frameworks. Given the consequences of ignoring mental health, organizations need to monitor mental health among their employees. Just like organizations evaluate the work done by their employees, companies should endeavour to assess the mental health of their employees. This is especially true for organizations with fast-paced work environments where things change quickly; changes tend to stress. Monitoring the mental health status of employees will help organizations identify mental health-related problems early.

The importance of mental health cannot be overemphasised. Its economic implications are enormous; every organization should therefore prioritise it. Besides, everyone needs to be mentally healthy to do their best work. Healthy employees are happier employees. To achieve SDG 3 as soon as possible, we need to achieve high rates of mental health.

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