How eLearning Can Help Employees Manage Their Mental Health at Work

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Mental illness affects people from all walks of life. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), as many as one in five Americans is affected by a mental health condition.

To further illustrate how common mental illness is, consider the Anxiety and Depression Association of America reports as many as 16.1 million adults are affected by major depressive disorder. That number doesn’t include the millions of Americans diagnosed with bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, general anxiety disorder, or any of the dozens of other mental health illnesses.

While these statistics may be surprising, more surprising still is the fact that only about 40 percent of American adults facing mental illness actually seek treatment, according to NAMI.

Unfortunately, work can exacerbate the symptoms that accompany common psychological conditions like depression and anxiety, and workplace environments can trigger the development of mental illness in previously healthy individuals.

Given the connection between our jobs and our mental health, I’d like to take some time to spotlight one of eLearning’s lesser known applications: helping to improve mental health.

By now, you probably know the possibilities and applications are nearly endless when it comes to eLearning. Beyond all of its professional uses, eLearning can also be leveraged to improve mental health. Implementing an online learning program is a simple, cost-effective way to enhance your company’s health and wellness.

The Benefits of eLearning for Mental Health

On average, lost productivity due to untreated mental illness costs American businesses about $70 billion a year. However, this situation is reversible. When employees do receive training or treatment to deal with their mental illness, a staggering 80 percent report improved efficiency and professional satisfaction.

Part of this treatment and training can come from eLearning courses that provide support and teach self-help techniques to individuals dealing with mental illness. Such courses can help explain what work/life balance can look like, give examples of activities to support a healthy balance, and help learners find personalized solutions to create more balance. For example, many people may need help managing their schedules to include time for the gym or other activities that can help alleviate mental illness symptoms. An appropriate eLearning course can help guide these people through valuable time management skills. Training can also help individuals recognize signs of their lives being out of balance and offer tips for getting back on track.

Further, eLearning technologies can be used to provide treatment to individuals who live in areas where mental health services are scarce or unavailable, just as telepsychology allows psychologists and therapists to treat patients over internet-enabled devices.

Such internet-enabled devices are now also capable of providing vital tools for mental health treatment through apps such as Calm, Headspace, Moodnotes, SuperBetter, and countless others.

Courses to Consider for Improved Employee Satisfaction and Mental Health

According to our experts at RedVector, there are certain training courses that every employee should take regardless of role or mental health. As you’ll see below, many of these essential eLearning courses can help employees address mental health concerns and/or workplace situations that can exacerbate mental health conditions. The topics of the courses include:

  1. Mental wellness
  2. Violence prevention and active shooter
  3. Sexual harassment prevention
  4. Financial wellness
  5. Cybersecurity awareness
  6. Time management and prioritization
  7. Slip and fall prevention
  8. Email communication/social media best practices
  9. Drugs and alcohol
  10. Ethics

While eLearning programs are certainly a supplemental option to promote mental health awareness and self-care, they’re not a replacement for the care of an experienced medical professional. These tools and courses can be great complements to traditional therapies and psychological techniques, but don’t assume your employees no longer need mental health benefits just because they have access to relevant courses.

The general consensus among mental health professionals is that mental health education is lacking in many businesses. More often than not, mental health issues in the workplace can be avoided — or at least better supported — with thoughtful mental health awareness training.

When employees are happy, they’re more likely to thrive at work. But when they’re suffering, their work suffers, too.

Fact is, if a company cares about its bottom line, it should care about the mental health of its employees. According to the CDC, depression leads to around 200 million lost workdays in the United States, equivalent to somewhere between $17 and $44 billion in lost productivity. With such large, long-term losses at stake, companies need to start investing in mental health training and awareness today.

Victoria Zambito is SVP of content and communications at Vector Solutions.

By Victoria Zambito