For most of us, work plays a major part of our lives. We probably spend more than half of our waking hours in the workplace, where we get our income and often where we make our friends. Having a fulfilling job can be good for your mental health and general wellbeing.
We all have times when life gets challenging – sometimes work-related, like deadlines or changes in technology, management and more. Sometimes it’s something else – our health, our relationships, or our circumstances.
One of the silver lining the pandemic has brought amid all the disruption, trauma and challenges we have faced is for us to look into ensuring mental health wellbeing at work.
What is mental health?
Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.
Over the course of your life, if you experience mental health problems, your thinking, mood, and behavior could be affected. Many factors contribute to mental health problems, including:
Biological factors, such as genes or brain chemistry
Life experiences, such as trauma or abuse
Family history of mental health problems
Good news is not only that we have choices but also there is help available.
Why is mental health important and why is it important to discuss this in the workplace?
The days of not talking about mental health are gone. Or, at least they should be. Positive mental health is important because it allows individuals to cope with challenges, even good ones, and setbacks in their lives, both at work and at home.
In our previous summit, part of our Day 2 session included a discussion on why wellbeing is important in the workplace and how it can be addressed. You can find a summary of this in our past article
Awareness of mental health is increasing, but we still face a world where people with mental health problems face discrimination, and can face challenges getting the help they need.
When we create workplace cultures where people can be themselves, it is easier for people to speak about mental health concerns without fear, and easier for them to reach out for help when they need it.
How Can We Improve Mental Health At The Workplace?
I believe that everything starts with awareness and openness
Looking after yourself through self-awareness, self-care and self-love. Ensuring you recognize it when you need help by talking about your feelings, keeping active, eating well, keeping in touch with the people that matters to you, taking a break when you need to, accepting who you are by doing something that you are good at and working on who you want to become
According to an article by hbr - Employers that have supported their employees with the pandemic, racial injustices, return-to-office planning, and/or mental health overall have better mental health and engagement outcomes. For example, workers who felt supported with their mental health overall were 26% less likely to report at least one symptom of a mental health condition in the past year. Respondents who felt supported by their employer also tended to be less likely to experience mental health symptoms, less likely to underperform and miss work, and more likely to feel comfortable talking about their mental health at work.
As an employer, we need to provide the following:
Culture change - knowing that it's everyone's responsibility and about creating an ecosystem to make it sustainable. It has to start from the leadership team, having mental health as priority and ensuring everyone is accountable.
Training the team on how to handle mental health no matter what your designation is. Being able to handle first aid mental health and respond as fast as you can will be key.
Helping your team elimionate stress by creating an environment with psychological safety, diversity, equity and inclusions (DEI)
Flexibility and sustainable ways of working as we all know that both remote and hybrid work does help in improving work-life balance
Building healthy relationships, deeper connection and meaningful interactions among teams
Find out more how we can help your Leaders and organization through training, coaching and consulting. Order our Mental Health First Aid Online Training and for more specific requirements schedule a free 30 minute call now!
More Resources and References on Mental Health:
Doing What Matters in Times of Stress by World Health Organization
How to Support Mental Healt at Work by Mental Health Foundation
It's a New Era for Mental Health at Work by Harvard Business Review
Mental health awareness: The importance of conversation by BetterUp
Mental Health in the Workplace by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention