It’s Time to Talk: Mental Health is Just as Vital as Physical Well-Being

By Paul Bieber

We all have worried about the health of our employees, whether work-related or not. But there is always a but: how many of you as owners or managers of a glass business worry about the mental and emotional health of your team?

When we get a cut, we get stitches and light duty for some time. When we break an arm, it’s a cast and light duty with a firm back-to-work date. We fill out the OSHA forms and go back to work. What do we do when we have an employee who has lost a loved one? Or was involved in an accident where a stranger was killed? Mental pressures on people will prevent them from either coming to work or from working at their normal capacities.

It’s easy to see a broken bone with an X-ray. Seeing a hurt mind is different.

Here are Some Numbers You Should Know*
• One in five U.S. adults experiences mental illness each year.
• One in 20 U.S. adults experiences serious mental health disorders each year.

Mental illness affects:
• 44% of LGB adults;
• 37% of mixed/multiracial adults;
• 22% of white adults;
• 18% of Latinx adults;

Annual prevalence among U.S. adults, by condition:
• Anxiety disorders, 48 million people;
• Major depressive episode, 19 million people;
• Post-traumatic stress disorder, 9 million people;
• Other disorders, about 20 million people.

When we are having a tough time retaining people and hiring new folks, could it be that the people who are giving you a hard time at work are suffering from a mental situation?

Studies show that about 80% of employees won’t go to their boss and say they have a mental problem and need time off. They just decline in their work capacity and quality until you have to suspend and then fire them because of their work output. Wouldn’t you rather help this employee get back to full speed?

If you are an employee, do you mention a mental health issue to your supervisor? A good supervisor will help you schedule an appointment with a professional who will help you.

As a shop owner or manager:
• Confirm that your health insurance covers mental health; know what the deductible is, and call your doctor to get a list of mental health professionals.
• Treat your employees’ mental issues the same as you would treat someone with a torn ligament. It is simply a medical issue.
• Do not discuss this medical issue with anyone else in your company other than your direct supervisor.
• Know the issues of mental health. When an employee isn’t working to their capacity, and there is no physical reason, quietly and privately ask this person if they are having personal difficulties. Remind them that the company recognizes the importance of a positive frame of mind.
• Maintain the employee’s job status while they are being helped. When the employee comes back to work, you will be worshipped for being the saving grace.

It is hard to hire and retain good employees. Make sure your medical coverage includes mental health situations (It should!).

Because they are so misunderstood, mental illnesses cost business owners more money than physical injuries. Owners, talk with your family physician to learn which books to read to teach you about mental problems. Talk with your insurance agent to learn what your coverages are. Most importantly, talk with your employees, acknowledging that you are there to help them in times of need.

Paul Bieber has more than 40 years’ experience in the glass industry, with C.R. Laurence and as executive vice president of Floral Glass in New York. He is now the principal of Bieber Consulting Group LLC and can be reached at paulbaseball@msn.com. Read his blog on Tuesdays at http://usgpaul.usglassmag.com.

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