Like in most other industrialized countries, the number of people struggling with mental illness in Japan has been steadily increasing over the past decade. A recent, four-year longitudinal Japanese study found that long work hours – along with unclear clear job descriptions and the ability to exercise discretion in performing tasks – notably erodes the mental health of workers. Their research also found that when a co-worker is suffering from a mental illness, the mental health of other workers is also likely to be poor.
What is the social cost of this? All around the world, stigma, prejudice, and discrimination surrounding mental illnesses deprive people of their dignity and act as barriers to vital support and treatment options. All too often, people are left to struggle alone. They can feel like a failure, they can feel hopeless, they can tragically feel like taking their own life because they are unaware that help is available. In Japan, while the number of suicides has decreased in recent years, there are still 60 people who end their own lives every day. We know that for every completed suicide, there are an estimated 25 attempts. This number is just too high.
Luckily, a shift in societal attitudes is slowly moving us in a better direction. As our societies and workplaces change, traditional ways of looking at the workforce are being reevaluated. Many younger employees rate workplaces that value employee well-being much higher when weighing up potential job offers. Provisions for well-being in the workplace not only help retain employees but can also help attract top talent, too. Is your workplace mental health-friendly? Below are some guidelines to get you started:
• Include health care that treats mental illness with the same urgency as physical illness.
• Have programs and practices that promote and support employee health-wellness and/or work-life balance.
• Provide training for managers and front-line supervisors in mental health workplace issues, including identification of performance problems that may indicate employee distress and the possible need for referral and evaluation.
• Provide an Employee Assistance Program or other appropriate referral resources to assist managers and employees.
• Support employees who seek treatment or who require hospitalization and disability leave, including a return to work plan.
TELL offers a range of presentations, workshops and services year-round that can help your organization achieve best practice in mental health care provision. If you are interested in creating a mentally healthy workplace, please contact email@example.com for further information about our services.