Shed Light on the Realities of Mental Health
By Contributing Author, Kate Harveston
People share their mental health experiences in many places — therapists’ offices, online forums, and school groups. However, many struggle to discuss this topic in the workplace.
This trend is likely due to the nature of the environment. Employers often expect you to work diligently without complaint, and many cultures push for fast-paced work without adequate breaks.
When workers reach their limits, companies replace them. Fortunately, an increasing number of businesses are working to change this attitude. Whether you’re an employee or boss, discover six ways to help normalize mental health discussions in your workplace.
1. Wellness and Mindfulness Initiatives
Healthy snack options, diverse fitness facilities, and on-site counselors are essential components of any comprehensive wellness program. Health involves all aspects of the body. Consider a holistic approach if you seek better conditions for yourself and colleagues.
Mindfulness programs foster improved mental health by enabling individuals to recognize their emotions and deal with them constructively. You may often ignore feelings of sadness or anger to keep your workflow efficient. However, acknowledging these feelings helps you work through and eliminate them.
2. Mental Health Care Coverage
Check if your company offers a sufficient health care plan, including mental health services such as therapy or counseling. If there’s room for improvement, contact higher-ups about changes you’d like to see.
If your job is lacking mental health care coverage, enlist the help of local counselors to procure services for employees. You may be able to secure discounted rates. Accessible healthcare programs reduce the number of absent days among employees and boost their productivity rates. Depression accounts for 35% of reduced cognition at work and interferes with physical tasks at least 20% of the time.
3. Assistance Programs
Employee assistance programs help workers resume job obligations after rehab. These initiatives provide resources for reintegration, retraining and general on-the-job support. Overworking is a common issue for people recovering from addiction in particular, as they may feel the need to prove themselves or stay distracted from their addictions.
Working too hard isn’t healthy for anyone, however, which is why it’s crucial to keep workloads at reasonable levels. Develop policies for a smooth transition, including educating coworkers and higher-ups.
4. Voluntary Check-Ins
If you’re an employer, you may hesitate to discuss mental health for fear of being invasive. However, it helps employees immensely. Offer optional check-ins to give employees a chance to talk. Most people want someone to talk to about their issues. Finding common threads among coworkers or bosses can be an experience that enhances your overall work relationship.
Some workers may avoid taking voluntary check-ins due to discomfort, but don’t let them fall by the wayside. Let them know other company resources are available if they need a listening ear.
5. Support Groups
Workers often create support groups specifically for those struggling with addiction or other mental health issues. Socializing with others about something you all understand can be a great bonding experience.
Coworkers who’ve been through the battle can reassure you about the anxiety surrounding mental health stigma. You can share as much or as little as you like, gradually working your way through it.
6. Work-Life Balance
Sometimes it’s necessary to take a mental health day to recharge. This practice only helps you achieve your best. If you come to work on bad days, you’re more likely to lack energy and ambition. Instead, take a break without feeling guilty.
Check-in with colleagues to see how they’re managing the work-life balance. Encourage them to ask for help.
While some respond to impending episodes by shutting down, others try to power through it or occupy their minds. Let them know it’s okay to take a break. Be clear and honest about time off policies.
Bringing Mental Health Issues into the Light
If we improve the conversation around mental health, it gives individuals room to be human. The typical workplace doesn’t contain gears and cogs — it’s home to people who try their best every day.
Preserve your workplace’s humanity by reaching out to colleagues and speaking up for wellness initiatives.