Why is improving mental health in the workplace so important?

Improving any part of one’s health has always been important. We spend so much of our lives in a work environment so understandably this is where a lot of mental health issues such as stress, burnout, anxiety, and depression can arise. While a positive working environment is extremely beneficial to our mental and physical health, a negative working environment can lead to mental and physical issues.

Depression and anxiety can play a significant impact on how one works and performs in life and in the workplace potentially resulting in a lack of motivation and productivity and an increase in absenteeism. Resulting in costing companies a lot of money. Therefore, if an employer can help and improve employee mental health it will be very beneficial for the overall business. 

There are many ways in which a company can help promote mental health in the workplace which will both increase productivity and decrease absenteeism.

Below are some suggestions of ways in which to help:

1. Stay Active

Stay active

While it is sometimes hard to stay active when working a long day at work, it’s important for your mental health to do so. When you are active, a chemical in the brain that boosts your self-esteem, helps you concentrate, sleep better, and feel good is released, providing a natural energy boost. It will also allow you to be more focused and motivated in the workplace and also gives you a real sense of achievement. If an employee can incorporate a healthy physical challenge into the corporate wellness calendar it will definitely show in the improvement of the employee’s mental health.

2. Recognizing signs of mental health issues

Recognizing signs of mental health issues

It is important to be able to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental health conditions so you are about to identify them as soon as possible. Whilst prevention is ideal, early detection is the next best thing to ensure a sound recovery as quickly as possible. Holding regular information and education sessions with employees on different mental health topics by a professional is not only educational but also allows employees to open up about their own experiences that could help others around them.

3. Ask for help – Talk about your feelings

Ask for help - Talk about your feelings

All employees should have a safe space to be able to talk and express their concerns in the workplace. Somewhere away from other employees, in a “safe, non-judgmental” space and on a confidential basis. 

Having at least one person that is in the office full-time, trained as mental health first aider is really important. Living in an ex-pat environment, many people don’t have family around them. Therefore just knowing you have someone that is willing to listen and care, can make a huge difference to someone that is struggling with their mental health. Having an open and honest conversation in the workplace regarding mental health will hopefully also allow others to feel like they can talk about it. We don’t see any issue talking about our physical health, so why is it so different from our mental health?

4. Healthy diet

Healthy diet

I still to this day hear of a lot of workplaces that stock the cupboards with sugary drinks and candy bars for the employees. While this may be seen as a kind and thoughtful gesture by some, it really isn’t doing anything great for anyone in the workplace. Replacing these items with fresh fruit and vegetables is definitely more beneficial for everyone and will help staff feel more alert and think more clearly throughout the day.

5. Take time out

Take time out

Some work stress is unavoidable and of course, emergencies will happen out of hours and employees and organisations need to be flexible with regard to working hours and dealing with urgent matters. However where possible, avoid sending nonurgent emails, calls, and WhatsApp to staff during their holidays and weekend. This allows them time to have a “digital detox”, switch off, and enjoy some quality time with their family and friends. 

It is important to allow all staff members their own time to take care of their own mental health outside of the workplace. Everyone takes care of their mental health differently eg some employees might enjoy meditation, others enjoy spending time with family or friends and some just like to catch up on sleep or watch a movie. However, if this isn’t done and you work 24/7 they will be a high chance that symptoms of mental health issues such as burnout won’t be detected early, leading to a longer recovery time. So lead from the top and go and enjoy your weekend also.

We all have times when we feel like life is on top of us but let’s try and make some small changes in the office to prevent, detect, and support each other around mental health. If you would like assistance setting up your own corporate wellness program, arranging mental health first aid training or even just booking a mental health webinar, please get in touch.

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