Mental health is probably one of the most undermentioned and undervalued things within the workplace. In some instances, speaking about one’s mental condition could be taboo or inappropriate within a work environment. But, regardless of industry or corporation, there seems to be underlying angst and apprehension when it comes to having an open discussion on a person’s mental state. This can largely be attributed to the formal associations most people tend to make with their work environment. So while it would be absolutely fine to show emotions and express your mental condition at home, doing this at work is a big ‘no no’ because you go to work to do one thing – work. Though it’s crucial to adhere to professionalism at work and refrain from crossing inappropriate boundaries, who’s defining what appropriate and inappropriate is? Is there room to promote mental health in the workplace?
While you must get the job done, how can you bypass what you feel and think as part of being human? The answer is you can’t. We aren’t robots, nor are we expendable. And on the contrary, when promoting mental health in the workplace, employers can see just how valuable of an asset mental health can be. When mental health is at its optimum level, it is advantageous for both the individual and the business. However, when it is neglected, it can become detrimental to a person and a liability in their work. Hence, spotlighting mental health in the workplace is paramount for a successful business.
Why Promoting Mental Health in the Workplace Is So Important
When an employee’s and/or employer’s mental health is at its best, it shows up immediately in the work environment. Imagine having a boss who brings personal drama to their workplace and projects unsavory attitudes towards undeserving employees. This breaks down the work relationship and creates a certain level of distrust, resentment, and tension. And this can be felt in the work atmosphere quite noticeably to the point that things become rather awkward and uneasy. Then, we find workers avoiding each other or making full-on attempts to dodge their boss at all costs. Promoting mental health in the workplace helps dispel any negativity, misunderstanding, and animosity. Instead, we see a solid unit of individuals being considerate of one another and more mindful of how their actions or words affect someone else. This new sense of cohesiveness enhances a spirit of teamwork where business responsibilities are being met eagerly and effortlessly without it being at anyone’s expense.
Effects of Neglecting Mental Health in the Workplace
People aren’t robots and require breaks to reassess and revitalize their mental health. When a workplace doesn’t promote mental health or an employee’s overall health, it’s likely because a business prioritizes itself as an entity more. Thus, everyone else is sort of secondary. High amounts of stress can cause one’s immune system to become compromised, which increases the chances of becoming sick. Thus, workers end up being absent more. A simple way to fix this would be to implement one or two mental health days in the month where employees can take some time off specifically to focus on their mental and emotional wellbeing.
When employees aren’t feeling prioritized, they will likely not prioritize their job. No one wants to feel expendable, especially when they invest their time, energy, and skills to complete a task. When corporations don’t show up for their workers, their workers stop showing up for them.
Increased Substance Use
Under hard conditions at work, stress becomes inflated. And people have different ways of coping with immense stress. One of these ways includes increased substance use, whether alcohol or drugs, to decompress from all the constant work demands.
More mistakes are made as a result of pressure. When under high amounts of stress, confusion can arise from misinterpretations and miscommunications. Thus, a person’s decision-making skills end up suffering as a result. Many of us can relate to making mistakes or mishaps when under pressure. Our ability to reason and analyze is compromised when hijacked by emotions of frustration, overwhelm, and confusion.
Ignoring issues present in the workplace doesn’t avoid ‘time-consuming’ conversations. It only increases tension and allows problems to fester beneath the surface until there is a boiling point which can be more costly to a business’s reputation. Early on, addressing internal affairs is the best preventative measure for workplace arguments and blowouts.
Not taking time to promote mental health in the workplace can lead to poor decision-making. Unfortunately, this poor decision-making can also cause or be caused by disorganization. People still have a home life and lives outside their job. If home life isn’t in good standing, it almost automatically affects one’s quality of work. When overcome or flooded by thoughts, it’s harder to focus on tasks and organize thoughts. This can show up more evidently as disorganized workstations and management.
Lapse in Rapport
Rapport is super important to establish and maintain within any relationship, whether personal or interpersonal. Rapport is a close and harmonious relationship we share with others. Rapport can be lost when a person feels that the other party doesn’t care about their wellbeing but is only interested in self-gain. A lapse in rapport can diminish trust, which is the main component for any team to function properly.
Negative Physiological and Psychological Effects
Physiological and psychological effects of neglecting mental health in the workplace can cause and/or exacerbate things like fatigue, headache, stress, back pain, generalized anxiety disorder, depression, panic disorder, etc.
Things to Do to Promote Mental Wellbeing in the Workplace
Encourage More Quality Breaks
A successful business understands that its a more valuable asset is its employees. And, workers aren’t machines. They are people who require and deserve quality breaks. This can be done in several ways. First, employers can either choose to provide several short breaks throughout work shifts or a couple of longer breaks throughout the shift. Speaking with workers would be beneficial in making this decision as well.
Be More Inclusive
Workplaces should always aim to have an inclusive environment where everyone feels welcomed and appreciated. It’s proven that worker appreciation and feelings of being valued increase worker performance and productivity. It’s important to involve employees in different activities for work and get to know them personally. Another way to do this is by establishing an anti-discriminatory policy. This ensures that all employees will be treated fairly, punishing any workplace discrimination to enforce a more inclusive, progressive environment.
Bring Meditation to the Workplace
A direct way to promote mental health in the workplace is to bring in a program or initiative to give employees space and time to improve their mental health, such as with meditation. Declutter The Mind At Work brings meditation to your workplace with our guided meditation app. Giving your team access to an app such as Declutter The Mind is easier than trying to organize meditation sessions or live group practices. Employees simply download the app to their device, sit, and choose a practice related to their current issue. There are practices for everything from anxiety and productivity, to focus and energy.
Declutter The Mind is a meditation app for your workplace to help make your team happier and culture healthier. In an average 9-to-5 work day, just 5 minutes of mindfulness meditation can release stress, improve focus, and boost creativity. For your company, a more mindful team means better workplace culture and teamwork.
Prioritize Employees’ Wellbeing
Your workers are your best commodity in business. If the workers don’t do their tasks, the whole business eventually suffers. To have a well-oiled functioning machine, employers must be mindful of their employee’s psychological and physiological changes. Spotting dips in mental health and/or physical health will help reduce employee burnout, mistakes on the job, and other health complications. Keeping a vigilant eye on mental and physical wellbeing helps prevent the things mentioned above from taking place. Any subtle or major changes should be noted and discussed with employees to check in and make sure they’re in good standing.
Set Healthy Boundaries
All relationships need respect to work properly. There should be immense respect within the workplace amongst everyone regardless of age, title, salary, or any other surface trait that comes to mind. Healthy boundaries are essential for limiting drama in the workplace and reducing stress. An example of setting healthy boundaries in the workplace could be having a conversation amongst the staff regarding micro-managing. Micromanaging is quite invasive, especially to the person being hovered over. This demonstrates a lack of trust in an employee, but it also infers that the employee isn’t competent enough to carry out their tasks without supervision. While intentions may be good, micromanaging sends a very negative message and degrades the trust felt in having that camaraderie.
Build Rapport with Employees by Fostering More Interpersonal Connections
Contrary to popular belief, work isn’t always a separate world from your personal life. Imagine how many hours you spend with your colleagues and/or employers daily. You naturally grow deeper interpersonal connections sometimes. This can help de-stress the work atmosphere and increase worker productivity and efficiency. Companies can promote mental health in the workplace by building rapport and better relationships with their peers. Having activities where everyone is involved is very beneficial. For example, pot luck can be one option. You can also incorporate trust-building exercises into some of the work breaks. Trust building activities include the trust fall, dragon’s tower, willow in the wind, island survival, back-to-back drawing, and a scavenger hunt.
Promoting mental health in the workplace will always require companies to invest resources and time into educating their employees and even managerial staff. Spreading mental health awareness throughout the workplace can be done by placing mindfulness prompts on the main workplace bulletin board. Other resources can include numbers to call and hotlines that assist with crisis intervention. Having a list of mental health care providers available is great to have as a reference tool for anyone feeling they need further assistance with their mental health.