According to researchers with Mental Health America, people in the United States will spend anywhere from a quarter to a third of their lives in the workplace. On an average day, we spend more of our waking hours at work than we do at home or taking time to be with our families. So making sure we’re at the peak of our mental fitness on the job and at home is vital.
Mental health significantly impacts employee performance, workplace culture, and overall business success. In today’s fast-paced work environment, mental health issues often stem from excessive stress, unrealistic job expectations, and poor work-life balance. These factors can lead to burnout, anxiety, and depression, affecting not only individual employees but also the team’s morale and productivity.
Identifying the Causes of Workplace Mental Health Issues
Key causes of mental health issues at work include excessive workload, tight deadlines, and lack of support. A toxic work environment, where harassment or bullying occurs, also contributes significantly. Additionally, personal factors like financial stress or family responsibilities can exacerbate these issues, creating a challenging cycle for employees.
Recognizing the Signs of Mental Health Struggles
Early detection of mental health issues hinges on recognizing the signs. These include decreased productivity, frequent absences, withdrawal from colleagues, and changes in mood or behaviour. Employees might also exhibit increased irritability, fatigue, or a decline in work quality. Managers must be vigilant and responsive to these signs.
Managerial Responsibilities in Addressing Mental Health
Managers play a pivotal role in addressing mental health at work. They should foster an open, supportive environment where employees feel comfortable discussing their mental health. Regular check-ins, offering flexible work arrangements, and providing access to mental health resources are effective strategies. Managers must also be trained to identify signs of mental health issues and respond appropriately.
Implementing Practical Solutions
Practical solutions include promoting a healthy work-life balance, offering mental health days, and providing access to counselling services. Companies should also consider implementing wellness programs that focus on mental health, such as mindfulness sessions or stress management workshops.
A Call to Action
Addressing mental health in the workplace is not just a moral obligation but a business imperative. By understanding the causes, recognizing the signs, and implementing effective strategies, managers can create a healthier, more productive work environment. Remember, a mentally healthy workforce is a more successful one.
What To Do If You Suffer From Mental Health Issues At Work
Some of our working conditions are out of our control, but there are several things you can do to improve your mental health at work.
1. Take a break from technology
This works in a couple of ways. Experts recommend that we get up and move away from the computer to help relieve stress. There’s another aspect to this too. Instead of shooting off another email, talk to a colleague in person. Working in isolation can increase mental anxiety. Building relationships increases our feelings of socialization and support.
2. Ask for help
Along that same line of making sure we walk away from technology now and then to cultivate personal relationships, experts also recommend not always trying to go it alone. In most work environments, employees are not lone wolves. Better results come when we can pool our ideas and resources. So if an on-the-job problem has you stumped, ask a colleague to help you brainstorm or provide a sounding board for some of your ideas.
3. Give help to others
Just as it’s a good idea to get help when you need it, assisting other people can have the same positive benefit for your mental outlook. It doesn’t even have to be strictly work-related. You might bring in coffee for your colleagues or merely give a coworker a compliment to help brighten their day. In doing that, you may find it lifts your mood.
Studies show that regular physical activity can help boost your mood and relieve anxiety. This could be a daily routine such as going to the gym or taking a walk a lunchtime or while you’re on a break. If all else fails, stand up at least once an hour, especially if you’re working at a computer, to give your body and your eyes a break.
5. Stand Up for Yourself
Something that isn’t necessarily talked about is the ability to stand up for yourself in the workplace. People often generalize it as being mean or rude to one another, but it doesn’t necessarily have to fit this criterion. As long as you’re honest and also remember what brings you joy about your job, it should be easy to communicate. If that’s not the case and there are instances of abuse or anything interrelated, you can always make a worker’s compensation claim that can further bring out anything in the workplace that is inhibiting you or your coworkers from working in a safe environment.
6. Set goals
Whether it’s completing a significant project or simply clearing some of the paperwork from your desk, setting goals—large and small—can help boost your mental health by giving you a sense of accomplishment.
7. Take a break
These can be long or short. Studies of schoolchildren show that mental fatigue can negatively affect learning. The same applies to adults on the job. Taking a few minutes to give yourself a brain break can improve performance and productivity in the long run. Another option is to make sure you get away from the workplace for lunch if that’s possible. At the very least, get away from your desk and leave your work behind for a few minutes. And then there’s vacation time.
According to the latest statistics from Project: Time Off, 52% of Americans left vacation time unused at the end of 2017. While that number is decreasing, it still shows a tendency among American workers to ignore the genuine need to take time for themselves.
Taking a few minutes before and after work to calm yourself helps you change gears—either to mentally prepare for work or to decompress after.
- It’s okay to say no – It’s not always necessary to take on extra hours and extra work. While it’s not easy to say no to a colleague or a boss, if the demands exceed your ability to deliver, you are better off answering no and explaining your reasons. Along with that same line, try not to take work home. With so many of our waking hours already devoted to work, sacrificing family and personal time for additional work can only increase stress and negatively affect mental health.
- Employee Assistance Programs – Many employers offer workers access to confidential counselling programs. Some may be tied to health insurance coverage but not all. If you find that stress is affecting you at work or home, this may be an option for getting any additional help you need.
Practice Yoga to Help With Mental Health Issues
Yoga, an ancient practice with modern relevance, offers a variety of styles to suit different preferences and needs. Among the eight primary types of yoga are Ashtanga, known for its rigorous style; Iyengar, focusing on alignment; Bikram, performed in a heated room; Jivamukti, which combines spirituality with physicality; Power Yoga, a high-intensity approach; Sivananda, emphasizing a holistic lifestyle; Yin Yoga, with its slow-paced nature; and Vinyasa, known for its fluid movement. Each style offers a unique approach to yoga, allowing practitioners to find a method that resonates with their personal fitness and wellness goals.
1. The Benefits of Yoga: Physical and Mental Wellness
Yoga’s benefits extend far beyond physical fitness. Physically, it enhances flexibility, boosts respiration and energy, aids in weight loss, improves performance, strengthens muscles, balances metabolism, and promotes cardiovascular health. Mentally, yoga is a powerhouse. It alleviates anxiety and depression by increasing GAMA levels in the brain, relieves stress, fosters self-realization, enhances relationships through the promotion of peace and compassion, encourages mindfulness, helps in coping with trauma, controls emotions, boosts self-esteem, changes perspectives, and sharpens attention. These benefits make yoga not just an exercise but a comprehensive tool for overall well-being.
2. Yoga Poses: A Gateway to Holistic Health
Yoga poses, or asanas, are categorized based on the body parts they engage in and the benefits they offer. Beginners can explore a wide range of groups, including arm balances, balancing poses, binding, chest opening, core strengthening, forward bends, hip openers, inversions, pranayama (breath control), restorative poses, seated and standing poses, twists, backbends, bandhas, and mudras. Each category targets specific areas and offers unique benefits, making yoga a versatile and comprehensive approach to physical and mental health.
3. Embracing Yoga for a Balanced Life
Yoga stands out as a holistic solution for both mental and physical well-being. Its diverse styles and poses cater to various needs, making it a versatile practice for people of all ages and fitness levels. Whether seeking physical improvement or mental clarity, yoga offers a path to a balanced and healthier lifestyle. As you embark on your yoga journey, consider working with a coach to guide you and maximize your benefits. Share your experiences with yoga in the comments – what styles do you prefer, and what impacts have you noticed on your mental and physical health?
According to Mental Health America, mental health problems cost businesses more than 500 billion dollars annually. Taking simple steps to improve your mental health benefits both you and your employer.