Our mental health is just as important as our physical health, considering 1 in 6 employees experience mental health problems, the government is implementing change into health policies in the workplace. The World Health Organisation defines mental health as “A state of well-being in which every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.” And so, when we have poor mental health it can affect everything in our lives, including work, relationships and socialising.
Employment may affect your mental health, depending on your role and the stress level involved in your daily tasks. Employees don’t always feel comfortable expressing their problems due to feelings of shame and fearing discrimination. But it can’t be ignored anymore. You spend a great portion of your life at work so you want to feel fulfilled and happy in your role. Is it really worth it if your job increases your stress levels? That’s not to say quit your job, it means improving communication. Communication is key, especially when talking about mental health. How can your employers support you if you haven’t voiced your problems? It may seem daunting, it always is when talking about MH, but talking is the first step in receiving support!
Why should employers be concerned?
Different places of work have different procedures, unfortunately not all employers acknowledge and understand the severity of mental health issues. If you’re experiencing a period of poor mental health then your work performance is more likely to suffer. You may experience lack of concentration or difficulty meeting deadlines, as well as feeling negatively about yourself which will affect your attitude to working.
In a survey of 44,000 employees it showed that only half of the 48% who had experienced issues had spoken to their employer about it. Often employees will call in sick instead of being honest about their mental health, stats show that 1 in 5 have phoned in sick to avoid workplace stress. This is because of the stigma attached to mental health conditions, we worry what others may think of us if we reveal we suffer from depression or anxiety (The most common in the workplace).
Over 6,000 people die by suicide each year in the UK which is a heart-breaking. We need to learn how to talk about it! How to understand and acknowledge poor mental health first before support can be put in place.
Does your employer understand mental health? Are there any procedures in place for dealing with it?
Mental health affects everyone, regardless of background, age and gender. The consequences of poor mental health in the workplace are costly, employers are losing billions because employees are less productive, less effective, or off sick. The Thriving at Work Report (Oct 2017) revealed that 300,000 people with long-term conditions lose their jobs each year and 15% of employees have symptoms of an existing mental health condition.
What can you do to maintain a healthy work life balance?
- Create boundaries between your personal and work life. Try to keep your work life separate from your personal life.
- Evaluate your role. Do you work late into the evening, longer than you’re supposed to be there? Do you take work home to complete? Are you over-worked?
- Communicate. Talk to your colleagues about how you’re feeling and listen to those around you. You might not be suffering but someone else might be.
- Take a break. If your job involves 9-5 office work you may be seated all day, take a walk outside on your lunch hour. Nature does wonders for relieving stress and anxiety.
- Identify what is causing you stress. It might not be work related, everything that happens in our life affects how we feel, including our relationships and worries.
Let’s work on raising awareness for our mental health and take proactive steps into finding a healthy work life balance!