Mental health in the workplace is rarely talked about. Many employers hesitate to bring the topic of mental health up, and employees often feel shame about their mental illness, or fear losing their job. In one way or another, the stigma around mental illness keeps people quiet. At HPA/LiveWell in Albany, New York, we strive to dismantle the stigma, and educate the public on how to stay healthy at work.
Mental Health in the Workplace
Mental health disorders affect more than 1 in 5 Americans in the workforce today. Yet, the incentive for addressing mental health in the workplace is not just to create happier, more productive employers. Mental health in the workplace cause a huge financial burden on companies. Last year alone, mental health conditions cost employers more than $100 billion. The bottom line is mental illness has a direct impact on the workplace, and finding solutions is vital.
How to Cope with Stress in the Workplace
Maintaining sufficient mental health in the workplace can be difficult. Whether you already struggle with mental illness, or the job itself has lead to a decline in your mental health, there are things you can do. Some ways to promote wellness in the workplace include:
- Leave work at work – use your drive home as an opportunity to decompress, clear your mind, and ground yourself. Listen to soothing music or a guided meditation as a way to transition from “work mode” to home.
- Take breaks – especially if you are sitting all day, taking a break, getting outside, and getting some fresh air can be helpful. On bad weather days, consider doing some stretches in your office, or taking a walk around the building.
- Know your warning signs – being aware of what goes on for you when your stress, anxiety, and/or depression levels are increasing is so important. This allows you to intervene and prevent that “code red” emotional overwhelm. If you notice your stress is on the rise, use deep breathing and other techniques to help ground yourself.
- Take a mental health day – do not underestimate the role a day off can play in sustaining your mental health in the workplace. If you have unused sick days (or can afford to take an unpaid day off), use it when you start to feel overwhelmed, unmotivated, or stressed.
How Employers Can Help their Employees Maintain Good Mental Health
If you are an employer, there are ways you can help address mental health in the workplace and demonstrate your place of work is one of the companies that care about their employees.
- Create a culture of acceptance – let employees know it is OK to speak about mental health issues and mental illness; encourage awareness through honoring Mental Health Awareness Month.
- Create a culture of inclusiveness – mental illness can contribute to people feeling isolated and alone. Employers can help employees connect with other employees through social events both within and outside of work.
- Provide on-site help – companies with on-site healthcare clinics (that include mental health services) tend to have lower company medical costs, less employee absenteeism, and increased productivity.
- Encourage self-care – talking about self-care and burnout is incredibly important to employee wellness. A part of self-care sometimes includes honoring employee requests to take time off.
To find out more about mental health in the workplace, or to learn about the mental health services provided at HPA/LiveWell in Albany, New York, contact us at 518-218-1188.