How To Improve Mental Health In The Workplace?
Improving mental health in the workplace is essential for the overall well-being, and the reason why is pretty simple – a regular 8-hour workday makes up exactly one-third of the day in general.
However, suppose you get the recommended eight hours of sleep at night. That means your workplace is the stage of at least half of your waking time, as that’s if you manage to maintain a good work-life balance.
According to the World Mental Health Report by WHO from 2022, almost 1 billion people worldwide have a mental health condition. In the first year of the pandemic, disorders like anxiety and depression increased by 25%. And guess what? The home office didn’t make things much better.
So, this is where the question of what managers should do when their employees struggle with their mental health stays. And – of course – what employees themselves can do to make things easier in the workplace.
Below, we will go down the path of why you should improve mental health in the office and how you can do it.
Talk Openly About Mental Health and Get To Know Health Benefits And Resources
Neglecting the topic of mental health issues can impact people in your company in a significant way. So, instead of ignoring the elephant in the room, you better revise your company’s culture and be open to discussion when it comes to the emotional well-being of everyone.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a business owner, a C-level manager, or a regular employee; you should shine the light on yourself first. Ask yourself how you feel and what feelings are going through you right now. Recognizing anxiety about deadlines, uneasiness about events, interpersonal issues, or worsened working environment will be the first step toward addressing those issues.
Mental health and the workplace go hand in hand for the success and contentment of the entire team. So, addressing the problems themselves should be open, transparent, and emotionally intelligent. You can consider creating a meeting that’s focused on mental health, speaking out, and canceling the stigma on the subject. Educate yourself and understand how each mental health issue impacts a person.
Once you do that, you should understand your company’s benefits and time off for such situations. Many people won’t talk to HR about what they are experiencing, so it’s good for you to present them with the options.
A good model is to ask your employees once a week how they are feeling on a scale from 1 to 10 and what drives that number. If some give a low score, you should check in with them and offer support. Stress can be caused by work and non-work factors, so keep the conversation going.
Create a Sense of Belonging and Know the Challenges for People of Color
Creating a sense of belonging is crucial for mental health in the workplace. A study conducted by Qualtrics found that people who have a good sense of belonging in a workplace have better well-being than those who don’t.
To achieve this, you must foster open communication, accessible technology, and inclusive language, empower employees to make decisions, and voice them.
It’s documented that employees of color face issues when it comes to accessing mental health care because of racism. Also, cultural and language barriers for people of color can be problematic.
There are also stigmas around the Asian American community because of the stereotype that Asian Americans are hard-working and strive for perfection. Therefore, this burdens the community to perfect the image the world has painted for them.
Black adults also report a lot of emotional distress and feel like everything they have to achieve is with extra effort. Reports state that 1 in 3 black adults receive mental health care, whatever their needs are.
As a manager, you should listen to and respect cultural differences when someone from a different background shares their experience. Then, show up for your employees and participate in ERGs (Employee Resource Groups) to continue learning. You won’t understand what everyone is going through completely, and that’s okay. Just be there for them.
Make Sure that People Take Vacations and Have a Workplace Mental Health Day
So, how to improve mental health in the workplace? First and foremost, by chasing away burnout.
Burnout is a modern-day disease. It consumes people of all ages, and it spreads out like wildfire. To manage that, managers have to catch the signs in employees, like alienation from tasks, reduced performance, and exhaustion.
Sometimes depression and burnout can have similar physical symptoms, but they are not the same by all means. People with depression experience fatigue, hopelessness, disinterest in activities, and suicidal thoughts.
If it’s burnout, it usually gets better if you take days off or step away from your current job. Depression doesn’t go away when circumstances change.
To prevent burnout, you should encourage time off, check the workload of your employees, set realistic goals, and provide good resources for the work tasks.
Focusing on mental health is not only good for the employees’ work-life balance but also for the business. Focus not only on the delivery and performance results but also on their quality which stems from the good well-being of the employees.
Workplaces can organize a workplace mental health day where mental health is discussed, and sources are handed out.
Prevent Loneliness and Alienation
Loneliness is a normal emotional state that everyone goes through, especially in new settings. However, if these feelings persist, a concern arises. Loneliness is not a mental health issue, but it is linked to such. It can contribute to conditions like addictions, anxiety, and depression.
In fact, research shows that loneliness impacts mortality just like smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
The consequences of loneliness include a shorter lifespan, a risk of depression, reduced immunity, and risks of cardiovascular diseases.
People who are more prone to loneliness are employees that work virtually, extroverts, and introverts who can feel bad in solitary environments.
Loneliness also comes from personality differences, especially when misunderstandings appear in the workplace. When such misunderstandings are not resolved, they can grow into more significant issues.
Sometimes the lack of social support might cause employees to stifle their creativity, productivity, and decision-making. Such issues can lead to weak team performance, emotional and physical stress, low productivity, and withdrawal from the team.
This is why mental health in the workplace should be put on a pedestal for all parties to consider. You can start with a simple well-being survey strategy and advance further with emotional well-being sessions, team building, and monitoring the best practices for an intelligent work-life balance.
Because a good professional is always first a happy and content human being.