Workplace Behavioral Health: Are You Managing for Optimal Performance?
Mental health and substance use conditions are pervasive and growing. More than one in five Americans (23.2 percent) experienced a mental health condition in 2016 alone.1 Chances are employers will experience employees with behavioral health conditions at the workplace.
Learn strategies to manage behavioral health conditions in the workplace.
About 73 million Americans suffer from behavioral health conditions. That term includes those with mental illness, substance abuse or both.1
Many suffer in silence — approximately 30 million people did not receive appropriate treatment.1
Growing problem areas:
Increase in the percentage of adults with major depression in the past decade1
Dramatic increase in the rate of suicidal thoughts, plans and attempts2
Ongoing national emergency related to opioid use and corresponding opioid overdose deaths3
Understanding the Cycle of Behavioral Health Conditions
5 Stages of Impact on Employee Performance
Employers often have no clear way to identify employees with mental health and substance use issues. They can’t control what happens. But they can be aware and educated to respond in a supportive and effective way.
Being prepared can help supervisors:
Respond appropriately when needed
Support employees to perform at their best
Maintain compliance with appropriate regulations
Here are the five stages in the cycle of a behavioral health condition and some ways employers can help.
STAGE 1: RISKS EMERGE Employees’ behavioral health symptoms often begin without notice and are hard to identify. It’s important at the early stages to create a safe culture for employees to seek help. All managers should receive training on how to document performance on a regular basis, noting any observed changes. Managers should also be familiar with all the resources the organization offers to support employees. Examples include management coaching and employee assistance programs.
STAGE 2: SYMPTOMS ESCALATE AND IMPACT PERFORMANCE Employees’ symptoms may increase to a moderate level and are more likely to have a noticeable impact on work performance. Employees may have more frequent absences — including FMLA or short term disability — and/or request accommodations under ADAAA to help them cope. Employers should initiate strategies for absence management and stay-at-work disability management support. By providing options, employers can help employees address issues proactively. This timely support can help them stay at work or return quickly.
STAGE 3: THE CONDITION BECOMES MORE SEVERE Employees’ symptoms will be severe at this stage. Problems and absences may escalate to the point that they need a disability leave. The need for accommodations also becomes clearer. Emphasize helping employees who may be able to stay at work. It’s important to work with individuals one-to-one. Develop accommodations tailored to their specific limitations or restrictions. Proactively implementing accommodations may help keep an employee engaged in their work, successful in their role and more supported by peers.
STAGE 4: CHRONIC IMPAIRMENT At stage 4, employees may continue to experience severe or chronic symptoms. They may apply for long term disability benefits. Individuals may also start seeing themselves as “a disabled person,” struggling to find purpose or meaning in life. It’s important that employers continue or begin goal-directed case management and return-to-work support. Note that there's a better chance employees will return to work with earlier interventions.
STAGE 5: RECOVERY This stage is when employees begin to see their conditions improve. Progress could result from treatment or be part of the natural course of the condition. Employees can recover at any stage of their journey with the proper response and intervening strategies. Recovery before severe or chronic stages often depends on connecting with timely care and support. Effective support can empower the employee and rebuild confidence.
Conclusion: Awareness and Training Can Make a Difference
Employers can’t afford to ignore the problem. Mental-health and substance-use conditions are common in the United States. These conditions may impact employees’ work performance without effective services and support.
Focus on changing workplace culture. Issues of stigma, shame and fear of negative consequences often mean conditions aren't disclosed. Employers are often blindsided when employees' behavior starts to suggest behavioral health issues.
Understanding is key. Recognizing the general course of these conditions is the first step. Training can assist managers in early identification and helpful responses. Employers can offer programs and benefits when employees are having problems. Coordination between all stakeholders and vendors is also essential. That can increase the odds that employees will achieve timely and sustained recovery and return to productivity.
Watch This Webinar for More Insights
Breaking the Silence to Improve Behavioral Health Conditions
Explore more insights with Dan Jolivet, Workplace PossibilitiesSM practice consultant at The Standard and the white paper’s author, in this recorded webinar.
More Behavioral Health Resources
How Well Are You Managing?
Most employers aren't confident providing accommodations for behavioral health conditions. See how you stack up and get more insights from our Absence & Disability Readiness Index.
Want to Better Manage Behavioral Health Conditions?
Learn more strategies to manage behavioral health conditions in the workplace. Get the complete white paper now — and don’t miss the checklist on p. 13.
Download the White Paper
Download a copy of Managing Optimal Work Performance Through Behavioral Health Conditions.
Confidence and Compassion
A Note from Greg Ness, Chairman, President and CEO
At The Standard, we’ve been helping people achieve financial well-being and peace of mind since 1906. As the global health crisis continues to disrupt lives, communities and the economy, I am confident we’ll continue helping people when they need us the most. Our company has been through hard times and market volatility before and we will navigate through this challenge as well. As our customers face tremendous stress and uncertainty, we will continue providing support and stability to those who rely on our products and services.
This pandemic is tough on everyone. Our communities are hurting, our families and friends are distressed and some of our most vulnerable neighbors are at risk.
The crisis and the way we collectively respond to it will define a generation. We are rising to the challenge. I know every single employee at our company — along with staying focused on keeping our business running and serving our customers — is looking for ways to make a difference for those most affected by this pandemic. That’s proving true in businesses and homes across the community, the country and around the world.
Part of the tragedy of this disease is that even as we come together to help those most in need, the unique nature of COVID-19 is forcing us apart. We all understand the importance of —social distancing— to slow the spread, but we should remember that’s just physical distancing. I encourage you to find ways to safely connect with those in your neighborhood who may require extra help and with groups in your community that are making a difference and support them however you can. And now is the perfect time to reach out to friends and others and just check in.
To our health care providers, first responders and everyone selflessly setting aside their own fears and concerns to help others during this time — thank you hardly seems enough. These people are true heroes. This crisis reinforces how reliant we are on the many essential services we too often take for granted. We are grateful to so many for continuing to show up with focus and commitment.
We will get through this, especially if we are sustained by the examples of those who make us the proudest right now — family, friends, neighbors and colleagues working together — rather than allowing our fears to guide us. No matter how unsettled we may feel, remember we are not alone. There are so many people in this world trying their level best to help others. And I am certain we will get through this — together.
In times of crisis, we are defined by how we react. Let’s continue to be defined by compassion.
And to our customers, thank you for putting your trust in The Standard. What we sell is a promise to be there when you need us, and that promise is unwavering.
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Age: 36 - Occupation: pediatrician - Married, one child
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