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Mental Health in the Workplace

In the workplace, it is not uncommon for people to struggle with mental health issues. A rise in mental health challenges has been observed for some time now and shows no signs of declining.

The challenges of mental health can be painful for anyone at any time in their lives. Each of us experiences it at some point in our lives. Nonetheless, ignoring mental health struggles at work will usually not lead to better results. Rather, it can cause everything from substance abuse to burnout.

Here are some ways employees can heal from struggles and how employers can help.

Understand how work can affect your mental health.

First, determine how a wrong career choice or work environment can adversely affect your mental health. The reasons most often cited are listed below.

  • If you're in the wrong job, you can feel as if you're wasting your life away.

  • You may feel anxious about the future if your job security is poor.

  • When you work with toxic colleagues and have toxic attitudes, you can create a negative working environment.

  • You may feel unworthy if you work in an environment that is bullying and in which managers play favorites.

  • You may feel unappreciated and financially stressed when you are underpaid.

Even united teams are complex groups of people working toward different goals in the workplace. As a result, negative emotions can be created within teams, creating negative environments and causing people to struggle.

Conduct a self-check.

When you have a chance, take a moment for yourself. Next, grab a piece of paper and a pencil, and ask yourself these two things:

  • Right now, what's bothering me?

  • Is there anything I need?

Whenever you have a question, write it down.

Try feeling what's going on in your body if you don't know what's wrong. You can get clues on how to take care of yourself from this. Feeling sore? Stretch your muscles. Get some fresh air if you're feeling restless.

In our hyper-distracted, busy world, it's easy to ignore what's happening in our own bodies.

Still stuck? American Psychiatric Association: Here are some more signs your mental health needs some help:

  • "Sleep or appetite changes — Dramatic sleep and appetite changes or decline in personal care

  • Changes in mood. An emotional shift or depression that's sudden or dramatic.

  • Withdrawal. Loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy.

  • Drop in functioning. Having difficulty doing familiar things, losing interest in sports, failing school, or quitting work.

  • Problems with thinking. A hard time concentrating, remembering, or thinking logically.

  • Increased sensitivity. Increasing sensitivity to sights, sounds, smells, and touch; avoiding overstimulation.

  • Apathy. Loss of motivation or initiative.

  • Feeling disconnected. Having a vague sense of unreality, or feeling disconnected from yourself or your surroundings.

  • Illogical thinking. Unbelievable or exaggerated beliefs about your ability to influence events or understand the meaning; thinking like a child in an adult world.

  • Nervousness. Feeling nervous or fearful of others

  • Unusual behavior. Behavior that's unusual, uncharacteristic, or peculiar"

Identify what's affecting your mental health.

In order to improve your relationship with work, you have to figure out what's wrong. What exactly affects your mental health at work? Answering this question isn't easy, but it's essential. However, the sooner you realize what's causing your problems, the sooner you can fix them.

You could do this by keeping a journal of your feelings throughout the day, highlighting things that make you feel depressed, anxious, lonely, or whatever else. Reflecting on your feelings after tasks and interactions can help you consolidate your emotions and segment them into positives and negatives you can deal with.

Get what you need by making a plan.

Some of the best tools for boosting your well-being are listed below. You should schedule some time on your calendar every day to recharge and take care of yourself instead of being distracted by work and other duties.

  • You can talk to a family member or friend. Being connected to others is a critical component of overcoming mental health challenges.

  • Make an appointment with a therapist. The average person who goes to therapy feels better about 75% of the time.

  • Be consistent with your exercise. It is important for the body to move in order to relieve stress.

  • Plan healthy meals. By eating whole foods, the body is able to fight stress more effectively.

  • Don't be afraid to ask someone for help if something feels difficult at the moment. It can be beneficial to get additional self-care support and time for yourself.

  • If it is safe for you, self-reflect. You can refer to your happiness list whenever you need it by writing it down.

Reach out to others.

If you need help healing, you may need to talk to your boss, coworkers, or HR leader.

It is likely that your coworkers or manager can direct you to mental health resources provided by your team, such as an employee assistance program.

NPR outlines the DEAR and MAN methods for talking about mental health at work.

"D—Describe the situation using facts. E—Express how the situation made you feel or affected you. A—Assert your needs. R—Reinforce the outcome and how it will be a win-win."

If you find yourself in one of these situations, use MAN to help you stay calm.

"M—Be mindful of your words, and stay in the present moment. A—Be assertive. If you're raising a mental health issue at work, it's a priority for everyone involved, so stand your ground! N—Negotiate. Your office might not be able to shift to your ideal hours. However, perhaps you could work together to set firmer boundaries for emails or start actually honoring lunch breaks. Work with your manager to find solutions."

Mental health discussions at work are common, but it is normal to feel nervous about them. You should focus on facts and give an example when talking to your manager.

Explain how this will help you, and explain how you expect to improve as a result.

Consider consulting HR or your manager.

Hopefully, your workplace has systems in place that let you tell someone how you feel. Think about speaking with someone in HR about how work might be influencing your feelings if your workplace has a robust HR department. An HR representative can be an understanding and friendly face within your organization, but HR is not a substitute for therapy. It may be easier to approach a formal face rather than a friend or family member.

It may be possible for your workplace to offer you time off to take mental health days or the chance to change roles if you intend to remain in the company. It's worth exploring your options if you are overworked or in the wrong role if you have either of these issues.

You shouldn't let bad colleagues or negative work culture ruin your dream job, especially if you work in a rigid corporate environment or a company that hasn't invested in human resources.

It's okay to take a break from time to time.

Taking a leave of absence might be helpful if therapy is not enough. The time it takes to process, rest, heal, and seek proper treatment may range from a few hours to a mental health day to several months.

Getting short-term disability leave is a good place to start when seeking this option. An individual can take a short-term disability leave if they are ill or injured, including mental illness.

As part of the FMLA, employers must provide employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for a variety of family or medical reasons, including mental health concerns. While your job will be protected, note that this leave is unpaid.

In addition, your employer must provide reasonable accommodations only for an individual who is aware of their physical or mental limitations when you return. Employees are generally responsible for notifying their employers that an accommodation is needed under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA).

Take a new perspective on your career.

Your career and your place within your workplace might need to change after some self-reflection. If work has an adverse effect on your mental health, rethink your relationship with it. Try to figure out if it's you or your job holding you back, and what you want in life by asking questions like:

  • Are you instantly anxious when you wake up in the morning?

  • Are you worried about your future when you meet with your supervisors?

  • Are you prone to frustration and anger when you collaborate with your team?

You are vulnerable to mental health problems if you are in a job that is not paying well, working long hours, or have a heavy workload. You might be leading yourself to an unhealthy end because of your perspective. You might feel better and start plotting a route to recovery if you took things a little less seriously.

A career change might transform your feelings or life if an attitude change doesn't. If you believe you are in the wrong career, begin to make changes if necessary. You might also want to consider whether you enjoy your hobbies or if your career is your priority. Work isn't the only thing that matters in life. Hobbies and side gigs may provide you with more meaning than your work does.

How employers can help employees who are struggling with mental health at work.

Start talking about mental health in the workplace.

Employees will be more likely to receive support if we communicate regularly about mental health. Specifically, mental health awareness and dialogue are crucial.

However, talking alone isn't always enough. According to 57% of respondents, proactively supporting employees' mental health would increase loyalty, productivity, and reduced sick days.

Share stress-coping strategies with your coworkers. Make it clear to everyone in your company that mental health is a vital issue.

Make sure leaders are on board.

There must be a top-down approach to change. Talking about personal experiences can lead to a few things:

  • A person may feel more comfortable discussing mental health challenges and stressors if they feel that they are not alone

  • Stress can lead to employees realizing they need help

  • There is a possibility that workers will feel more comfortable discussing mental health at work and seeking assistance

In order to address mental health problems at work, leaders can bring in a counselor to talk with employees. Alternatively, you can share your own stress-coping techniques.

Remember, the company culture follows leadership.

Mental health tools should be provided.

A mental health program for employees is a key component of any mental health initiative at work. When employees realize they are struggling, they can turn to mental health programs and employee assistance programs for support.

Increasingly, job-seekers are considering mental health benefits when evaluating new employers. In fact, 76% say they are critical.

Your managers will also benefit from mental health programs. The manager can direct employees to free tools that can assist them rather than feeling obliged to solve employees' problems.

Workplace wellness will be kept at the forefront of everyone's mind by continuing to offer programs that support employee mental health needs.

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