How to Improve Your Mental Health at Work
The term “mental health” has become a buzzword in the workplace. With a growing increase in mental health issues arising employers need to help employees’ and their mental well-being.
Statistics reveal that one in six workers experience anxiety and depression each year, and these mental health issues cost employers approximately 26 billion each year.
Undiagnosed and untreated mental health problems have led to unemployment and an increase in employee absences.
Mental health issues in the workplace can be triggered by a variety of stressors, including:
- Expectations of the job itself
- Strained relationships with co-workers
- Job insecurity and concerns over performance
- Failure of recognition for effort
- Overlooking symptoms of poor mental health
Employees should take action as soon as they notice warning signs of declining mental health. If left untreated, mental health issues can worsen and begin to impact performance at work; this could ultimately lead to unemployment.
10 Ways of Improving Your Mental Health at Work
As an Employee, there are numerous ways you can help improve your mental health at work, these include:
- Talking with a colleague – Communication and interpersonal relationships allow you to feel less alone in your mental health struggles. Identify a person who is trustworthy and can support you during your workday. Use this person as a resource to discuss stressors at work or even have a friendly conversation with during the middle of the workday.
- Exercise and keep active – Organise a run or yoga session a couple of times a week on your break. Exercise releases endorphins, and these feelings of happiness help to relieve stress during a long day.
- Sensible drinking - Alcohol is known to change our mood and increase anxiety. Rather than choose the alcoholic option at work functions, opt for non-alcoholic beverages, this allows you to enjoy the company of others while preventing feelings of unnecessary anxiety or depression.
- Ask for help – Don’t stress yourself with overthinking. Like the saying “If you don’t ask, you don’t get,” ask for help from other colleagues or management. Your employers have a responsibility to promote mental health in the workplace, so keep them accountable.
- Take a break – Take a break when feeling anxious or overwhelmed. The UK law states that workers have the rights, so you can take a rest break of 20-minutes that is uninterrupted during your working day if you work 6 hours or more a day. The break can either be a tea or lunch break. Similarly, if you use visual display units (VDUs) or computers, then consider taking a break from the screen. The recommendation is that every hour you should look away from the screen for at least 10 minutes.
- Set goals – It is important to set goals for yourself, both big and small, for you to have a sense of accomplishment. Begin by writing a list of your goals each day. As you complete these goals, cross each one off, this allows you to recognise the progress you made in a workday.
- Help your colleagues – Helping others is another way to improve your mental health. By improving someone else’s day, you will also benefit from the satisfaction of helping them.
- Meditate – Meditation before or after work creates a sense of calm, and studies have shown that meditation drastically improves your outlook on life. After a stressful day, it is essential to take a few minutes to yourself and relax before beginning responsibilities after work.
- Build a support system – It is vital that you create a support system outside of the workplace. By surrounding yourself with positivity outside of the workplace, you can better manage the stress and expectations in the work environment.
- Adopt habits – Begin adopting daily habits of tasks or activities that make you happy or help challenge you, this can take the form of maintaining/watering the indoor work plants or just completing a Sudoku puzzle to challenge yourself.
Efforts to Improve National Mental Health
Mental health problems continue to increase in the workplace. Because this is such a major issue, the following proposals and initiatives have been established in the UK:
- In October 2017, the NHS and the Civil Service implemented the recommendations made by a national report on improving mental health, which includes forty recommendations about protecting employees’ mental health in the workplace.
- Many companies, such as Deloitte, have created reports to encourage businesses to take action and put new mental health policies into place.
- Some companies recognise the importance of self-care. Johnson & Johnson give their employees access to physiotherapists and massage therapists while Sweaty Betty offers yoga classes to its employees.
Workplace Reform – Tips for Employers
As an Employer, to foster a workplace that is committed to improving mental health, consider requesting the following:
- Professional medical resources for employees experiencing mental health concerns
- Education for employees on the warning signs for declining psychological health
- Encouragement from management and acknowledgement of effort
- The development of a workspace in which employees feel safe and valued
- Short breaks for employees throughout the day
- Management recognition for the importance of a balance between work and personal life
If you haven’t already, you will most likely see companies emphasizing the importance of their employees’ mental health.
Employees continue to turn toward employers for increased support as more and more employees suffer from the daily stress of the workplace.
If you are suffering from a workplace mental health issue do voice your worries and ask for help, do not let it beat you, by spreading the awareness of these problems it will help drive the change going forward and help others in the same situation too.