Mental health in the workplace is just as important as physical health. If you’re feeling anxious, stressed, or overworked, your performance will suffer, affecting the company’s performance, too.
Mental health is often the first thing to give in when under stress. You may get overwhelmed and feel like you are not doing enough or don’t deserve to take care of yourself. But part of the process is learning to find a balance between work and rest.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness estimates that about 44 million American adults experience some form of mental illness. With the world’s current state because of the pandemic, mental health in the workplace is in the spotlight now more than ever.
Under normal circumstances, it would be relatively easier to implement mental health wellness in the workplace, but the pandemic has forced society to adapt. This informative guide will help you improve mental health and achieve a better workplace run by highly motivated employees.
The Effects of Mental Health on Workplace Productivity
An employee with an unhealthy mental state can show up late to work or call in sick. They may be less productive and more likely to commit mistakes. They may also avoid taking on new projects or learning new skills because they are too busy dealing with their problems.
In turn, they might have trouble meeting expectations set by their manager or co-workers and be unable to complete tasks without help. This can lead to their managers entrusting them less with important projects or duties, jeopardizing their career advancement.
Mental Health Issues in the Workplace
Research has found that 1 in 5 people in the U.S was suffering from mental health problems pre-pandemic. This figure has shot up since then, posing a bigger challenge for employees and employers alike.
Workplace burnout is a common problem caused by several factors, including lack of sleep and poor diet. It is the result of prolonged job stress that makes you want to quit. If you don’t address these contributing factors, your mental health may suffer long-term.
The ensuing effect is a drop in performance, but you may not immediately notice that it also affects how you interact with other employees. This can cause a rift between you and the team, resulting in a poor work dynamic.
Keeping up with an overwhelming workload can feel like a struggle. But staying motivated and focused on the tasks at hand can be even more challenging when dealing with mental health issues.
If you are stressed and feel overwhelmed by work, take some time to take care of yourself so you can re-focus and build the motivation to face and conquer that mountain of work.
Stigma and discrimination
Discrimination is not always easy to spot in the workplace. It might come in the form of an employee being passed over for a promotion, being treated differently by co-workers, or an employer placing unreasonable demands on an employee.
Another example of discrimination can come from the termination of an employee due to disability. For cases like this, it’s best to consult disability discrimination attorneys to help you with your situation.
It’s never a good thing to be at the receiving end of any form of harassment. Being surrounded by co-workers who can potentially inflict physical, verbal, sexual, and emotional damage on top of all the stress at work is detrimental to a person’s mental health.
If you’re experiencing harassment, don’t hesitate to approach HR or your manager so the matter can be addressed immediately.
Problematic substance use
When someone is experiencing problems with substance use, they may miss work or come in impaired.
The only way to deal with this is to quit before it gets worse and try incorporating healthy lifestyle practices such as eating healthy or exercising. If you’re an employer, you can implement policies to promote this, so your employees can benefit from a healthier work environment.
The Impact of COVID-19 on Workplace Mental Health
The pandemic has changed workplace dynamics. For example, the lack of social interaction and physical activity can make employees feel isolated. They may feel less productive and miss out on opportunities such as growing chemistry with the team and developing new learning resources.
Daily interaction can improve well-being and reinforce a sense of belonging within a community which is why some people struggle to work from home.
However, it isn’t just isolation that causes negative effects on some employees. If you are someone who has worked from home since the pandemic started, you may have found it hard to separate responsibilities between work and home.
According to a published report, 82% of remote tech workers in the U.S. felt burned out, and 52% reported working longer hours than those in the office.
Despite these challenges, solutions such as creating a private space to unwind or incorporating physical exercise are great ways to maintain a feeling of normalcy. For those working remotely, some have started virtual coffee breaks with other employees to compromise for the lack of physical interaction.
What Employers Can Do to Promote Mental Health Wellness
Build a culture of connection by frequently checking in on employees
One step to promoting mental health wellness in the workplace is to create a culture of connection. Employers can ask people how they are doing and listen without judgment. As an employer, make it clear that you are there for them, not just with questions but also with ways to address their needs.
When they are heard, people feel more supported and connected to their work and co-workers. This can be especially helpful if they are going through a difficult time or facing changes in their lives.
Promote access to mental health support
Many things can be done to promote a healthy environment for employees. The first is providing an Employee Assistance Program and making it accessible. Consultations with a counselor and seminars can be included in the program.
You can customize the program depending on the company’s needs, like offering free mental health tools such as meditation apps.
Offer better work flexibility
Employers can help promote mental health wellness by offering flexible work arrangements that give employees the opportunity to focus on their mental health.
Flexible work arrangements can include telecommuting, part-time work, job sharing, compressed workweeks or fewer work hours each day or week, and flextime or letting them choose when they want to log in.
A National Library of Medicine study showed that people with a flexible work schedule decreased their job stress by 20% and increased work satisfaction by 62%. It alleviates some of the pressure, allowing them to work at their own pace.
Find time to be together
One of the most important aspects of maintaining a healthy mental state is spending time with your colleagues to help create a supportive community. Working long hours and having little time off severely affects mental health, so employers must ensure their employees feel supported within the company.
Dedicate spaces for relaxation
If you’ve ever worked in an office, you know that tons of distractions may keep you from getting work done. Employers can fix this by providing dedicated quiet spaces for rest in the workplace. These will help promote mental health wellness because they allow people to get away from everything else and focus on themselves.
For example, if someone has been feeling stressed out all day due to work, they may not be able to focus properly on their tasks until they’ve had some alone time.
What Employees Can Do to Help Maintain Their Mental Health
Make time to unwind
Unwinding from work-related stress can help your mental health and reduce your risk of burnout. It can also help you be more productive at work by allowing you to focus on the task instead of letting stress distract you. Meditation and yoga are examples of things you can do to rest and clear the mind.
Talk to family and friends more often
Talking about how you’re feeling can help alleviate some of the pressure at work. Opening up also allows others to give different perspectives that may enlighten you in one way or another. Opening your lines of communication strengthens bonds with friends and family while knowing they always have your back.
Pick up a new hobby
When you’re feeling stressed, it’s tempting just to go home, leave everything at work, and do something else that can help relieve you of the burden. But if you’re looking for an alternative to unwind, why not try picking up a new hobby?
You can do almost anything, from cooking and gardening to reading and painting. Putting your mind to something unrelated to work helps you recharge and forget the stress.
Studies have shown that regular exercise can help improve mood and reduce stress. If you’re looking for some simple things to do when you get home from work, try taking a walk or going for a jog—it just may be the best thing for your mind and body.
Setting boundaries between work and personal time is important for maintaining mental health. Once you’ve logged out of work, resist the temptation of doing anything related to it. Avoid going beyond your working hours, too, so you can have time for other things you enjoy doing.
The Importance of Mental Well-Being
Even with so many things going on in the world, your mental health still needs to be your priority. Whether it’s because of work, the pandemic, or personal issues, looking after your well-being is part of maintaining workplace wellness. A mentally healthy workplace leads to a productive environment with happy employees.
If you are looking for a law firm to assist you with your legal needs in the workplace, we at Shegerian & Associates have got you covered. We offer several services that tackle employment cases with an over 98% success rate. For more information, visit our website and reach out to us today!