Beyond Mental Health: Why Mental Wellness Matters

Workplace Wellbeing
January 17, 2022
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Some employers don’t understand their responsibilities when it comes to mental wellness. There are plenty more employers who conflate mental wellness with mental health. Yet, the two terms are distinct. This piece will go over everything you need to know to understand the concept of Mental Wellness and its place in your business. 

What is Mental Wellness? 

Many people assume that mental wellness is a fancy way of saying mental health. Yet, the two concepts are distinct – and it’s important to understand that distinction. 

Many of us are generally familiar with mental health. Issues with employee mental health are seen as serious and concerning. Mental health can be seen as an analog to physical health. This does mean that mental health is often brought up when something is wrong. Being mentally healthy is only really considered as the opposite of having a mental illness.

The Lens of Mental Health 

Mental health issues manifest in a variety of symptoms, in varying levels of severeness. These issues could manifest as mood swings, depression, hallucinations, panic attacks or anxiety – to name just a few examples. 

Mental health is a lens that focuses on mental illnesses. You are either mentally healthy, or you are not. But this is an incomplete picture. Think of physical health. Even if you don’t have an active disease or condition, you’re not automatically physically “healthy”. There are a lot of different things that make up your “physical health”, including things like fitness, body weight, and diet.

The Lens of Mental Wellness

If we say that you are “physically well”, it means that you have reached a state of good physical health. If someone is “mentally well”, that means that they have embraced mental wellness.

If you have achieved a high level of mental wellness, this will normally manifest in a few ways. Firstly, you’ll have a better awareness of your moods, and have greater control of them. You’ll be more resilient when stressful situations come up. You’ll also be able to maintain higher degrees of productivity and self-confidence.

Why Employee Wellness Matters

Mental health issues among employees aren’t necessarily easy to spot. You can learn to watch for the signs. These include changes in mood, productivity, and energy. If the situation has already gotten bad enough that mental illness is on the table, that means that there has been a failure of mental wellness.

This doesn’t mean that all failures of employee wellness are the fault of their employer. Every person is complex, and their lives are more than just their jobs. However, any business should be invested in promoting employee wellness. Even if you don’t think that it is your responsibility, it’s a simple fact that employees that aren’t mentally well, aren’t going to perform well. This is the reason why corporate wellness programs and employee wellness programs are so important. 

Internal Threats to a Company’s Employee Wellness 

Sometimes it’s things external to a company that threatens employees’ wellness. Very often, however, employee wellness is tied implicitly to the kind of environment that their business creates. There are a variety of factors that can severely impact employee wellness at your business.

Firstly is a lack of boundaries when it comes to work and life. It’s great if your employees love their work, but even the biggest job fanatic needs some time on their own. This means that employees need to have strict boundaries on their time. If they are having to answer calls and emails after work hours, their mental wellness is going to suffer.

Another major threat to employee wellness comes from a lack of communication. If employees are left in the dark about major changes or their work expectations, it creates an atmosphere of anxiety and fear. Proactive communication, in both directions, cuts down on misunderstandings and builds trust and employee wellness.

There is also the issue of a lack of understanding. This means that you need to let employees be comfortable in approaching you with their concerns. You also need to take these concerns about mental wellness seriously. You might not know what every employee is going through in their day-to-day lives. What you can do is be understanding, and try to keep employee wellness in mind. If employees think that their wellness issues won’t be taken seriously, they will be less likely to try to resolve them. 

How to Promote Mental Wellness 

A good corporate wellness program goes beyond just offering employees things like gym memberships. In today’s busy working world, it is very tempting to be reactive with employee wellness. Too many employee wellness programs simply try to tackle issues with wellness after they have already blossomed into full-on mental health instances. Making changes to your work environment after employees’ mental health is already damaged may help wellness. But it will also damage the trust of your employees. 

What matters most about corporate wellness programs is that they are proactive. You need to be willing to bring up the topic of mental wellness with your employees and be willing to commit to designing a company that always keeps employee wellness in mind. A corporate wellness program can’t survive on its own. It needs to be part of a holistic approach that includes things like maintaining a work-life balance, as well as health plans that include mental wellness resources. 

If you’re looking for help in starting up a workplace wellness program, Liberate is here with the resources you need. Our corporate wellness programs can help you equip your team with tools to prioritize mental well-being. Make sure to check out a demo to learn more.

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