How to Take Care of Your Mental Health at the Workplace?

December 6, 2022

Mental health concerns at work can result in increased absenteeism and reduced productivity. Addressing these issues is essential for fostering a supportive work environment, which not only benefits employee well-being but also enhances overall business performance.

The importance of mental health at the workplace cannot be overstated. According to the World Health Organisation, 15% of all working-age adults were estimated to have a mental disorder in 2019. Likewise, research cited by the UK-based Mental Health Foundation suggests that 1 in 6.8 or 14.7% people experience mental health problems at the workplace. 

Ensuring mental wellbeing at the workplace not only benefits employees in all aspects of their life, but is also beneficial to companies – research suggests a strong link between wellbeing at the workplace and increased work productivity.

“Nobody can save you but yourself, and you’re worth saving. It’s a war not easily won, but if anything is worth winning then this is it.” – Charles Bukowski

In this article, we will talk about what mental health is at work, its importance and how to improve mental health for better productivity.

What is Mental Health at the Workplace?

Mental health at the workplace refers to varied facets of employees’ well being -psychological, emotional, and social – within the work environment. A sound mental health refers to a state of mind in which an individual can work productively, reach their maximum potential, build positive relationships with co-workers, and cope with the everyday challenges and responsibilities faced at the workplace.

  • Mental health denotes more than the absence of mental illness. It encompasses self-acceptance, social wellbeing, ability to cope with daily stressors, and a sense of purpose in life.
  • Mental health at the workplace plays a key role in contributing towards employee engagement, productivity, satisfaction and retention. 
  • Certain workplace factors may adversely affect employee mental health. These include lack of work-life balance, poor communication practices, job insecurity, and inadequate health and safety policies at the workplace. 
  • Both employees and employers can take proactive steps to look after and improve mental wellness at the workplace. 

What are the factors affecting mental health in the workplace?

While changing external situations may be challenging, workplaces can mitigate stress by addressing risk factors and implementing supportive practices and procedures.

  • Poor Communication and Management Practices: Inadequate communication and ineffective management can lead to confusion, stress, and decreased morale among employees.
  • Lack of Support for Staff: Absence of emotional and professional support from management and colleagues can impact mental well-being and job satisfaction.
  • Inflexible Working Hours: Rigid work schedules that don’t allow for personal time or flexibility can contribute to stress and hinder work-life balance.
  • Unclear Tasks or Organizational Objectives: Ambiguity in job roles and objectives can lead to uncertainty and stress, impacting an employee’s sense of purpose and direction.
  • Limited Autonomy or Decision-Making Power: Lack of control over one’s work and decisions can decrease job satisfaction and increase feelings of helplessness.
  • Burnout: Chronic workplace stress without adequate relief can lead to burnout, characterized by emotional exhaustion, cynicism, and reduced professional efficacy.
  • Loneliness: Feelings of isolation, whether working remotely or in-office, can affect mental health, leading to feelings of disconnection and sadness.
  • Moral Injury: Experiencing or witnessing actions that conflict with personal values or ethical standards can cause profound psychological distress.

What is the importance of mental health in the workplace?

“Give yourself a break. Stop beating yourself up!. Everyone makes mistakes, has setbacks and failures. You don’t come with a book on how to get it right all the time.” – Les Brown

Workplace Mental health is very important because it:

  • Enhances Productivity: Good mental health boosts concentration, creativity, and efficiency, driving better work outcomes.
  • Reduces Absenteeism: Employees with positive mental well-being are less likely to take sick leave, reducing absenteeism costs.
  • Improves Employee Retention: Supportive mental health practices increase job satisfaction, leading to higher retention rates.
  • Encourages Better Workplace Relationships: Positive mental health fosters cooperation, communication, and conflict resolution among colleagues.
  • Promotes a Positive Company Image: Companies prioritizing mental health are viewed more favorably, attracting talent and customers.
  • Decreases Healthcare Costs: Investing in mental health support can reduce the need for medical interventions, lowering healthcare expenses.
  • Enhances Decision-Making: Clearer mental health leads to better judgment and decision-making abilities.
  • Supports a Diverse Workforce: Addressing mental health needs helps accommodate a diverse range of employees, enriching the workplace culture.

How do you deal with mental health at work?

Fostering positive mental health at the workplace involves a combination of strategies, supportive workplace practices, and professional help when needed. Here are several ways to address mental health in the workplace:

Creating a Supportive Environment

  • Cultivate an Open Culture: Promote a culture where mental health is not stigmatized. Encourage open discussions about mental health and invite leaders to share their experiences, fostering a sense of understanding and empathy.
  • Establish Peer Support Networks: Create networks for employees to exchange thoughts and connect with others who have faced similar challenges. This enhances workplace relationships, boosts engagement, and can alleviate feelings of isolation.
  • Implement Mental Health First Aid: Introduce mental health first aiders and well-being champions, ensuring they receive appropriate support and training. This helps in creating a workspace where employees feel secure and are encouraged to perform optimally.

Well-being and Safety

  • Ensure Safe Working Conditions: Make sure that the work environment supports both physical and mental well-being, providing all necessary equipment, training, and opportunities for growth.
  • Promote Dignity and Respect: Foster an atmosphere where open communication is the norm, and where bullying and harassment are unequivocally condemned. Everyone should be treated with respect and dignity.
  • Incorporate Inclusive Practices: Ensure that inclusivity is embedded in the workplace, allowing employees to be their authentic selves, which reinforces their sense of value and belonging.

Tackling Specific Challenges

  • Address Stress and Burnout: Acknowledge the significant effects of stress, burnout, and loneliness on mental health. Initiate programs focused on these aspects, referring to resources like guidance on beating burnout.
  • Introduce Preventative Measures: Advocate for preventive strategies to maintain mental health, such as utilizing mental health hubs and embracing initiatives designed for all staff, not only those currently experiencing mental health issues.

Promoting Balance and Flexibility

  • Encourage Work/Life Balance: Implement policies that foster a healthy balance between professional and personal life, which is essential for mental well-being.
  • Facilitate Flexible Working: Support flexible work arrangements to help employees manage their work and personal commitments more effectively.

By implementing these ways, workplaces can be a big help in making sure everyone feels supported, happy, and part of the team.

Tips to Improve Mental Wellness at Work

Here are a few tips for employees and employers to boost mental health at the workplace.

Tips for Employees

  • Share your experiences and anxieties with other co-workers. Just talking and being listened to can help you feel emotionally supported and less isolated.
  • Participate in employer-sponsored programs and activities that meet your needs and preferences.
  • Take care of your physical health by engaging in regular physical activities, eating healthy, and getting adequate sleep.
  • Choose a company with an office where you can be happy. Elegant offices that are conveniently located, have a vibrant work community, are surrounded by greenery, and have dedicated zones for relaxation activities typically make for happier workplaces.

Tips for Employers

  • Encourage employee autonomy to create a sense of purpose and accomplishment.
  • Promote more sustainable ways of working. Allow flexibility in a hybrid work model to ensure better work-life balance.
  • Educate and sensitise employees and managers on basic health practices. Conduct open discussions on mental health problems, run workshops on self-care, prioritising, & goal-setting, and make mental health self-assessment tools such as quizzes and questionnaires available to employees
  • Provide a comfortable work environment with adequate relaxation spaces in which workers can unwind.

While mental health awareness is oftentimes overlooked, it’s actually a key leadership skill that is critical to the long-term success of any business or organisation. Leaders must display an overall sensitivity to employee well-being. For instance, a leader should be able to spot and address a team member facing personal challenges. Unaddressed, their anxiety could seep into their work-life, impacting team productivity and cohesion. Additionally, organisations and businesses must make sure they provide a positive work experience to their employees. A workplace that is dank, over-crowded, poorly lit or ventilated, and unsanitary could easily have an adverse impact on employee mental and physical health.

A healthy and thriving company culture is ultimately rooted in the mental health of its employees. Mentally healthy professionals play a key role in establishing an amicable and supportive work community and company culture – a happier workplace in other words. 

GO Bermondsey as a Workplace that supports mental health

GO Bermondsey workspace is deeply committed to mental health, providing an environment that fosters well-being through flexible workspaces, private breakout areas, lounges, and a supportive community. Our consciously designed office spaces encourage a healthy work-life balance and minimize stress, promoting both individual well-being and collective productivity.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which is the most common form of mental illness in the workplace?

How mental health affects work and employment?

What to do when your job is affecting your mental health?

What are the mental stressors in the workplace?

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