Addiction, Mental Health, and Wellbeing at Work Resource Guide

How much mental health support do employers need to provide? The answer to this question is far from simple. 

Back in 2018, Safety+Health asked readers: “Should mental health in the workplace be part of the safety pro’s responsibility?” The answers produced a stark divide: 51% said no, and 49% said yes.

While individuals carry the primary responsibility for their mental health, employers see tangible benefits when they invest in their workers. Good mental health leads to higher productivity, a lower risk of injury, and reducing spending on health care services.

If you’re a safety pro looking for holistic ways to support your team’s health, use this round-up of wellbeing, mental health, and addiction resources as a starting point for improving your safety programs. 

Why Are Wellbeing, Mental Health, and Addiction Issues for Safety Pros?

Safety pros focus on the physical health of workers. They prevent or mitigate the likelihood of events that lead to injury or illness. But the effectiveness of these safety programs is limited without a holistic approach that also encompasses workers’ minds and spirits. 

Some can and do make the argument that mental health, addiction, and wellbeing are personal issues. At the same time, there’s no question that a worker’s mental health impacts their workplace performance.

Here is an overview of the effects that poor mental health can have on a business:

  • Employee Engagement: When an employee struggles with mental health, it’s likely the person is less engaged in their work duties. Low engagement results in poor productivity, which has a direct impact on your bottom line.
  • Accidents and Injuries: Poor performance and low engagement increase the risk of injuries on the job. Workers need to be mindful of their activities to maintain safety. Unfortunately, poor mental health or wellbeing can make it challenging to maintain this mindfulness and awareness required for stringent safety measures. 
  • Returning to Work: When an employee injury happens, poor mental health or wellbeing can worsen the underlying condition. The cost of recovery increases because it’s harder for a person to return to work quickly when dealing with physical injury and mental health challenges.
  • Cost to the Business: Not only is an injured employee out of work, but the business often has additional costs for medical care and paid leave. Serious mental health issues, such as anxiety, depression, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), could result in short-term disability expenses.

Even if the employee has good mental health and a strong sense of wellbeing when beginning the job, workplace stress can contribute to the development of issues in the future.

Researchers at Harvard Business School and Stanford University found workplace stressors can harm both employees’ physical and mental health.

Not only does mental health support help with pre-existing mental health concerns. But the right safety program can minimize the likelihood of a worker who experiences mental health issues over time. 

Resources for Specific Program Topics

Supporting the mental health of your workforce is a great investment in your employees and it also happens to improve productivity in the workplace. Each employee is facing unique mental health challenges related to wellbeing, mental health, and addiction. It’s important to provide resources for these unique concerns. 

Wellbeing Resources

The phrase “workplace wellbeing” refers to a variety of factors relating to working life:

  • Working environment
  • Work organization
  • Work climate
  • Environmental safety
  • How workers feel about their jobs

Ultimately the goal is to provide workers with an environment where they are healthy, safe, engaged, and satisfied in their jobs. The wellbeing of your workers has an undeniable impact on the long-term effectiveness of your company. After all, employees are the most important resources within your business. 

Here are resources you can use to improve the wellbeing of your workers:

Workplace Well-Being: Bridging Safety and Health

A resource from the Campbell Institute providing key takeaways for well-being programs. Information includes communication, incentive structures, organized activities, and safety initiatives.

CDC Worksite Physical Activity

Information about providing options for physical activity in the workplace. Employers can use a multi-component approach, including access, management support, social support, and policies.

CDC Workplace Health Promotion

Actionable steps to support employers in launching or expanding workplace health programs. Resources include information about designing, implementing, and evaluating effective systems.

Workplace Health Research Network – Physical Activity in the Workplace – A Guide for Employers

An employer guide for increasing physical activity levels among the workforce. Building the company culture around health and wellness can promote good habits among management and employees.

ChangeLab Solutions – Walk This Way – State and Local Policies that Support Physical Activity and Wellness in and Around the Workplace

This program uses a two-fold approach for supporting wellness IN the workplace and AROUND the workplace. Build effective policies to promote the health of your workforce.

Make Wellness Your Business: Sleep Strategies for the Workforce

A video from the CDC with strategies to improve sleep habits. Options include nap areas for breaks, as well as healthy sleep patterns at home.

Total Worker Health: A New Model for Well-Being at Work – CDC Workplace Health Resource Center

A multi-faceted approach for increasing employee involvement in worksite health programs. Following these steps can decrease the rate of injury or illness among workers.

Wellness Leadership – Wellness Culture Coaching White Paper Series

Leadership can set the tone to motivate employees to change unhealthy practices. These programs provide guidance and raise awareness of lifestyle improvement goals.

Health and well-being at work: a Resource Guide HSC Public Health Agency

Employers can follow this model for healthy workplaces. The program supports a positive physical work environment and psycho-social work environment, including personal health resources for employees. 

University of Massachusetts Medical School: Center for Mindfulness

A meditation community that offers support for reducing stress and improving mindfulness. Employees can use these resources for reflection, guided meditation, and group discussion. 

Promoting well-being in the workplace doesn’t mean that you need to build a program from scratch. Instead, use available multimedia resources to train employees. YouTube offers many valuable training resources free of charge. 

Check out these YouTube channels for workplace wellbeing:

  • WorksafeBC
  • Safetycareonlinechannel
  • NIOSH Safety Videos
  • Work Safe for Life
  • Shine at Work
  • National Safety Council
  • Ontario WSIB
  • Seattle Red Cross

Mental Health Resources

According to the World Health Organization, mental health is defined as “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and can make a contribution to his or her community.” 

Mental health affects how people feel, think, and act, which has an undeniable effect on how they perform at work and home. 

Support workers' mental health

Consider using these resources to support mental health in the workplace:

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Stress at Work

Information about how stress at work impacts employees. Employers can learn how to support employees in managing stress to improve mental health.

A database of resources for management and staff, including intervention, prevention, and accommodation of workplace mental health problems. Training widgets are available to add to your website or intranet.

Psychological health and safety in the workplace – CSA Group

A detailed approach for staged implementation for workplace mental health programs. This in-depth guide offers information about prevention, promotion, and guidance for your workforce.

Mental health in the workplace – the World Health Organization

The WHO offers detailed information about the cost of mental health issues in the workplace. Additional resources help organizations take action to promote mental health at work.

Mental Health Index – U.S. Worker Edition 

This resource captures a snapshot of workers’ mental health for program planning. Then, each person can receive a customized mental health program. 

Families for Depression Awareness

Uniting families can be a useful step in helping people cope with mood disorders. This resource helps families recognize the issues and implement proven strategies. The goal is to help people get well while also preventing suicides.

The Monday Campaigns

A website with weekly practices focused on mindfulness, breathing, and positivity. Refreshing your mind on Monday can result in lower stress throughout the week.

Partnership for Workplace Mental Health

Real-world resources and tools to support mental health in the workplace. Read through a variety of mental health topics. Also, find specific employer resources for implementing new programs at work.

Suicide Prevention Resource Center

Make a plan to prevent suicide among employees and their families. These resources are useful for implementing a suicide prevention program and providing resources for care after a suicide.

SHRM Mental Health Apps for Supporting Employees

Considerations to address before providing mental health apps for management and employees. How to find the right provider that supports the needs of your workforce. 

NHS – Mental Health Apps

Apps for emotional resilience, one-on-one or group counseling, and clinical daily drop-in sessions for employees managing stress/anxiety/social isolation.

Substance Abuse Resources

The DMS-IV defines substance abuse as a maladaptive substance use pattern leading to clinically significant impairment or distress, occurring within 12 months. This condition results in manifestation that shows up in the following ways:

  • Failure to fulfill major role obligations at work, home, or school.
  • Recurrent use in physically hazardous situations, such as driving or operating heavy machinery
  • Substance-related legal problems
  • Continued use despite recurrent interpersonal problems

It’s important to note the differences between addiction and substance misuse. Even though these terms are often used interchangeably, there are distinct differences in how it impacts an individual’s life. Someone who is abusing a substance still has control over their life. On the other hand, someone with addiction finds that habits affect many aspects of their life.

Support employees going through substance abuse

Here are resources employers can use to support employees in prevention and treatment for substance abuse:

Opioids at Work Employer Toolkit – NSC

This free toolkit supports employers in understanding how opioids impact the workplace. Information includes resources for recognizing the signs of impairment and opioid misuse. Also, learn how to educate and support employees who struggle with opioid misuse or an opioid use disorder.

CDC Workplace Health Promotion – Alcohol & Substance Misuse

Interventions and strategies that build a quality workplace health program. Good policies and practices are essential for supporting employees with alcohol and substance abuse issues.

Addiction and the Workplace Employer Toolkit – Alaska Department of Health and Social Services

Whether an employee is suffering from an addiction or caring for a loved one with addiction, the situation can affect the workplace. This resource helps employers with the implementation of a workforce health program that protects employee safety.

Emergency Preparedness – NSC

It’s important to know what to do if an employee experiences an overdose, mental health episode, or workplace violence on the job. Implement these emergency preparedness resources to ensure you are ready to respond in an emergency.

Substance Use in the Workplace – Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety

This information addresses issues such as how substance abuse affects the workplace, including costs to the organization. Employers can use these resources to address the problems relating to substance abuse and addiction.

Grayken Center for Addiction Boston Medical Center Employer Resource Library

A resource library that supports employers in ending the stigma of addiction while also providing the help employees need. Sections of information help with workplace policies, manager education, actionable strategies, and organizational engagement.

Support Your Workers by Creating Strategies for Wellbeing

As an employer, one of the best investments you can make is supporting your workforce with wellbeing, mental health, and addiction resources.

Thoughtful and evidence-based programs on the job can have a positive impact on your employee’s lives in general. Proactively implementing these initiatives can boost employee productivity while also reducing the risk of injury on the job.

Every investment you make in your employees improves company culture and decreases the amount your organization is spending on health care services.

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Team Safesite

By Team Safesite

We're a group of safety and tech professionals united in our desire to make every workplace safer. We keep a pulse on the latest regulations, standards, and industry trends in safety and write about them here on our blog.

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