The topic of workplace mental health is being talked about more now than ever by employees and employers alike. Years ago, mental health was seen as a taboo subject. Some people even referred to persons experiencing mental health challenges as being “crazy”. Employees were embarrassed to admit that they needed help and employers weren’t equipped to offer the support needed. Now however, many companies are incorporating into their employee excellence strategy an employee assistant program that offers support to employees coping with a range of mental illness issues.
What is mental health? In summary “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.” Mental health problems can have a wide range of causes and for many people, a combination of factors contribute to mental health. One individual is quoted as saying ““My depression seems to flare up during times when I am stressed and isolated from other people.”
Some of the factors that could potentially result in a period of poor mental health in the workplace include bullying and harassment, micromanagement, lack of resources, silence regarding mental health issues, inflexible hours and time off, unclear responsibilities and expectations, unreasonable expectations and poor work-life balance. The point is mental illnesses are among the most common health conditions that many employees face and often they are afraid to talk about it, therefore, the discussion must begin with employers.
If left untreated, mental health could negatively impact the business and employees through poor job performance and unproductivity, disengagement in work activities, and ineffective/poor communication with colleagues and direct reports,
In an article titled Ultimate Guide to Mental Health in the Workplace published by Social Empowered – An impatient orange county mental health treatment provider in the USA, it was said that depression is the most extensively studied mental illness in the workplace.
Furthermore, in the workplace, depression often manifests in the following behaviours and symptoms: nervousness, restlessness, irritability, physical complaints, passivity, withdrawal from workplace activities, lack of productivity, fatigue, impaired judgement and decision making.
Studies show that “Workers who struggle with depression reported losing the equivalent of 27 workdays per year due to sick days taken. People who experience depression are also more likely to lose their jobs or experience frequent job changes.”
Food for thought.
Join us next week as we look at mental health risks during the COVID-19 pandemic and what employers can do.
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