March 1, 2022

Mental and Emotional Health Issues are Part of Every Company, Including Yours

By Paul Bieber

Okay, if you are part of business in the U.S., some 30% of your workforce left in the last year. Some left for financial improvement, some for benefits and some just left, baffling your thoughts. They just walked out or forced you to fire them for no reason that you can understand.

According to experts, 10-15% of the U.S. workforce have emotional or mental problems that interfere with their work, some daily and some on a non-predictable basis. Sometimes you see these problems and just write them off to “having a bad day.” Other days, you send someone home for the balance of the day to clear their head and come back tomorrow, all charged up and ready to work.

Very few of us in the glass industry are mental health experts. We can sew up a small cut in the field and give a couple of days of light-duty to someone who strained their back. Most of us, including me 35 years ago when I started managing a fabrication company, didn’t think mental health was a product of work relationships or efforts. Fortunately, a lot has been written and taught about since– and many of us have learned.

Here are some behaviors to look for. You should know that every group health policy now includes mental and emotional health as a situation no different than a strained back. This is covered by the group insurance you are already paying for, so make checking with your carrier your first step in offering your employee or co-worker some help.

Here are some warning signs that your employees may not recognize in themselves. In your own subtle way, suggest an employee get professional aid when these signs appear:

  • Eating or sleeping too much or too little;
  • Experiencing severe mood swings that cause problems in relationships;
  • Feeling helpless or hopeless;
  • Feeling unusually confused, forgetful, on edge, angry, upset, worried or scared;
  • Feeling numb or like nothing matters;
  • Having low or no energy;
  • Having persistent thoughts and memories you can’t get out of your head;
  • Having unexplained aches and pains;
  • Hearing voices or believing things that are not true;
  • Inability to perform daily tasks like taking care of your kids, getting to work or school;
  • Pulling away from people and usual activities;
  • Smoking, drinking or using drugs more than usual;
  • Thinking of harming yourself or others; and
  • Yelling or fighting with family or friends.

I can certainly recall events and circumstances covered in this list that neither I nor our management team recognized in our employees. Keep these thoughts in mind. Teach them to all of the leaders in your organization. Call a local mental health advisory group and ask for a speaker at your next leadership meeting. Privately, meet with your team to discuss individuals that may fall into the above criteria. DO NOT approach the person the next day. Ask your insurance company to give you the name of a local provider with whom you can discuss this employee. When you are fairly sure you have an employee in distress, ask the employee to meet with the professional person for an assessment and also advise the employee what your group insurance will cover.

If you ever have an immediate problem at work and don’t know what to do, call 911 and describe the situation. Almost every police department employs mental health professionals. Another choice is the National Suicide Hotline, 800-273-8255. Google “mental health,” and you will see hundreds of providers within your area.

Be sure to contact your insurer and have them visit to do a teaching seminar for your leaders.

And, our afterthought for today: “Don’t worry about the world coming to an end tomorrow. It is already tomorrow in Australia,”- Charles Schulz.