Mental Health in The Workplace

Due to globalisation, work-related stress and its associated complications have been on the rise in the past few decades. In fact, according to the World Health Organisation, 1 in 5 people experience a mental health issue in the workplace.

It’s quite an astonishing number, and one that we often forget involves real people that are suffering, regardless of the often quoted economic costs. We believe that mental health in the workplace should be a priority because it involves real life humans with real life feelings and lives that deserve to be full of happiness. But for companies who are constantly looking for the economic reasoning behind investing in employee wellbeing, the numbers are pretty astounding.

Estimates state that depression costs the economy 188 billion GBP every year; it is also the number malady of workplace-related mental disorders.

Some of the consequences of mental health problems in the workplace include:

  • Absenteeism

  • Presenteeism

  • Disability claims

  • Injuries/illnesses

  • Grievances / complaints

  • Turnover

  • Legal implications

Many campaigns have been launched in countries like England to educate people about the danger of health issues and the importance of receiving early care.

In this article, we will cover the ways you can address mental health issues in the workplace.

How to address mental health issues in the workplace?

Multiple companies from all around the world are more conscious about the effects of mental well-being on productivity and profit in the workplace. This has led to adopting new plans that help reduce the stress and anxiety that employees deal with.

Here are some of the measurements that are being implemented:

  • Enhancing the work environment

  • Improving the conditions inside the workplace is a team effort that requires the cooperation of employers and employees.

  • Here are some basic concepts that explain what a healthy workplace looks like:

  • Values diversity and inclusion

  • Encourages neuro-diversity

  • Provides standards for interacting with one another

  • Recognises employees for their good work

  • Enhances employee self-confidence and productivity

  • Aligns actions of managers with company values

  • Promotes mental health resources to employees

  • Ensures confidentiality and the right to privacy

  • Reduces stigma by educating managers and employees

  • Treats people with mental illness with respect and dignity

  • Getting regular checkups from certified mental health professionals

  • Offering subsidised counselling sessions

It is important to get employees to do a regular psychological evaluation, especially those at higher risk who show signs of mental instability or isolation.

This aids in the early identification of mental illness, which allows for proper medical and psychological management.

Promote physical activity

Hundreds of published papers covered the importance of physical activity for our general well-being and the role it plays in decreasing the symptoms of mental health issues.

For instance, exercise can help improve the symptoms of depression, which is a common mental health issue seen in the workplace. This effect is mediated by inducing the release of endogenous neurotransmitters that are usually down-regulated in depression (e.g., serotonin).

Another neurotransmitter that’s released during exercise is called endorphin; this is referred to as “runner’s high”. Endorphins are knowns for their analgesic (i.e., painkiller) and anxiolytic (stress reduction) effects.

Additionally, the secretion of dopamine, epinephrine, and norepinephrine will also help stabilise your mood and improve your mental well-being.

The effects of these neurotransmitters are not restricted to mood improvement, but also include appetite enhancement, sleep cycle regulation, and elevation of energy levels.

All in all, these factors will dramatically help employees reduce their stress and anxiety, which can be extremely beneficial to the overall performance of the company or institution.

Leaders and workplace pressure

Being in a leadership position does not mean you are immune to the pressure of the workplace. In fact, this pressure escalates as you climb the leadership ladder.

New leaders are susceptible to feeling overwhelmed with the idea that tens or hundreds of people’s lives are dependent on their performance and executive orders.

Sources of stress are diverse and include:

  • Making difficult decisions in the workplace

  • Maintaining coordination and coherence between different departments

  • Supporting the team of diverse individuals

  • Second-guessing every decision they make

How to monitor your mental health

First of all, you need to keep in mind that stress is a normal part of the job. When you are working in a fast-paced environment, expect to get tired, have sleepless nights, be extremely busy, and struggle with every new challenge.

However, these issues may turn normal sources of stress into something pathological.

Overall, it can be very challenging for the leaders themselves to evaluate their mental health well-being and decide when things become abnormal.

The best approach is to watch out for symptoms of burnout, which are generally the early signs that something is not right.

How to handle workplace pressure more efficiently

Over the years, researchers came out with numerous approaches to build a solid foundation to handle workplace stress and pressure.

Here are some steps you can take to improve your quality of life:

Sleep better – several studies identified sleep deprivation as a risk factor for depression, irritability, cognitive decline, poor memory, and other mental health issues. Sleeping 7–8 hours per night in a healthy environment will boost your resilience to stressful situations.

Practice anxiolytic activities – mediation, yoga, and listening to music are all effective practices that significantly reduce the symptoms of anxiety and depression. Many world leaders have their own rituals to preserve their mental health during stressful times.

Exercise more often – regular physical activity lowers the risk of anxiety, depression, and many other mental health disorders. Experts recommend maintaining mild to moderate physical activity (even 15 minutes a day).

Seek the help of professionals – after you try different approaches with no success, it is time to get the professionals involved. Seeking the help of a mental health professional will undoubtedly improve your symptoms and boost your performance.

Takeaway message

The incidence of work-related mental health issues has been on the rise for the past couple of decades. This led researchers to be on the look for any potential solutions for this problem.

We hope that this article managed to shed some light on the important topic of mental health issues in the workplace, as well as the appropriate measures to control these symptoms.

Workplace wellbeing offerings that include physical activity and mental health support can improve the mental health of any workplace. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Jessica Redman

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