Healthier Together: Workplace mental health


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Workforce issues from the COVID-19 pandemic are still lingering. About 46% of US workers report they are burned out from their jobs. In this week's Healthier Together, we look at the top causes of burnout and how to avoid it.

The World Health Organization (WHO) found that depression and anxiety alone cost the global economy more than $1 trillion each year, and this is probably predominantly due to reduced work productivity.

One of the main causes of burnout is overworking, which can lead to chronic stress. This is especially true for those who have been working remotely, as the boundaries between work and home life have become blurred. Workers should set boundaries and take breaks throughout the day to avoid burnout.

"Many of the workforce issues brought on by the pandemic have not gone away. People are still struggling with remote work," said Dr. Mike Franz, Regence BlueShield senior medical director of behavioral health. "Some folks never really got used to it or didn't like it. They feel disconnected from their colleagues and their peers."

It's important for employers and employees alike to prioritize mental health and take steps to avoid burnout.

"There's also the fact that a lot of employers are struggling with staff shortages, and the existing employees find that they have to cover for the work of others, that they didn't have to pre COVID," said Dr. Franz. "And, as we all know, COVID caused what we call The Great resignation, people have really been rethinking the prioritization of work in their lives."

By recognizing the signs of burnout and taking proactive measures to combat it, workers can avoid becoming another statistic in the growing number of burned-out employees.

"So there's no easy fix here. We certainly encourage employers, especially managers, directors, those in leadership that have direct reports, to really work on their soft skills, develop the interpersonal aptitude that's needed to maybe be aware if you have an employee that's particularly struggling," said Dr. Franz. "Certainly we went to destigmatize behavioral health in the workplace and really treat other medical conditions as far as when employees are struggling. Be aware of what some of the warning signs are of some mental health challenges."

Dr. Franz says it's a good idea to ensure employees know that resources are available to help them.

Regence BlueShield and the Puget Sound Business Journal are sponsoring an event in Seattle on May 25 to discuss these important workplace mental health issues. Solutions for Workplace Wellbeing and Mental Health will feature a panel of Washington business and political leaders discussing the future of the workforce, including lessons learned on retaining employees and prioritizing their needs, and the continued emphasis on mental wellbeing. Click here for tickets and more info.


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