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Mental illness in the workplace

People from all around the world flock to New York for work with dreams of building a better life. However, over time, many people become disengaged at work or so stressed that they begin looking for another job. This is as true of the rest of the United States as it is of New York. In fact, Forbes estimates that 50% of employees are disengaged and 70% are already looking for other work opportunities.

While stress factors at work can cause people to seek employment elsewhere, sometimes events in a person’s personal life is the catalyst. A difficult divorce or a death in the family can cause even the healthiest of people to suffer mental health problems. However, it is how the company handles mental health problems that may ultimately compel workers to check out at work and eventually leave.

Forbes identifies companies who fail to assist as “cultures of sacrifice.” These are companies that want to squeeze as much profit out of each employee as possible with no consideration for their welfare. They may treat mental health problems as a workers’ compensation and productivity issue rather than a human resources concern. The company culture may even trigger mental health problems on its own due to a tendency for long work hours and an overall hostile work environment.

Even well-meaning managers may believe that ignoring mental health issues in the work place provides a diplomatic solution, but Forbes says this can also make the situation worse. Instead, management should encourage conversations with employees to see what route is best to provide assistance, while retaining a valuable worker. Employee assistance programs should also be made available so that employees who prefer anonymity may seek professional help.

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  • Walter J. Roesch IV
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