Even after increased discussions about mental health since the past decade or so, one very crucial aspect of the issue that remains neglected is the idea of mental health in the workplace. Mental health disorders are among the most common health concerns that affect one in every five people, whether they know it or not. This becomes all the more important in the workplace situation because employees don’t often get a conducive and understanding environment to cultivate healthy mental health practices in that respect. Normally, all of us sometimes feel anxious, low, or stressed but these feelings tend to pass after some time. However, it should be a matter of concern if they don’t pass and develop into conditions like depression, etc. Our mental health definitely affects how we engage with our workplace; it affects our ability to perform up to our standards.
Discussion about mental health in the workplace has become more important now than ever since we have been struck by the COVID-19 pandemic. Workplaces are not the same anymore, and getting accustomed to the new normal while trying to maintain the expected levels of productivity is not something that fits right for everyone. The extended periods of isolation coupled with a lack of physical contact creates an environment of boredom, anxiety, and stress. A lot of people have lost their jobs due to recent layoffs and their well-being has been adversely affected. On the flip side, the ones who are retained are burdened with the task of fulfilling all responsibilities and picking up the slack, often at a reduced pay scale. All of this added together might pose a huge problem for the system if we keep on neglecting mental health in the workplace.
Research proves that companies that put their attention on the overall mental well-being of their workforce tend to be more successful than others. Poor mental health affects productivity, communication, and general ability to function. It can also lead to further physical conditions like heart diseases, etc. We need to accept mental health to be something as important as any other form of physical health. The situation in this age is such that no employee can ever think of getting a day off while citing poor mental health as the reason. On the other hand, conditions like a fever or a stomach ache, for example, are considered to be perfectly fine as reasons for absence. This mentality is what needs to be changed. Our fast-paced lifestyles need to be more accommodative and observant towards mental health as something that can affect the way people function in their daily lives.
Now the question arises how can the need for mental health be better advocated in the workplace. The first and foremost step of this journey is to simply start a conversation. The mere acknowledgement of the issue would be a great start as it would help to de-stigmatize the topic. It serves as an encouragement for others to share and speak up, and that itself would be a really good example of a healthy workplace. Organizations should make sure that their HR wings are dedicated to making the workplace more sensitive towards mental health. Managers and supervisors should try to be more compassionate and empathetic to the problems of their subordinates; something as simple as just checking in on your subordinates now and then would go a long way in building trust & confidence amongst the workforce. Who doesn’t like it when their thoughts are validated, organizations should try to offer enhanced degrees of flexibility to the employees and the need for a healthy work-life balance should be encouraged. Managers should lead by example to show their team how a healthy work-life balance works wonders on efficiency and general mental well-being in life.
The essence here is to understand that all of us are fighting our fights. In such a situation we need to understand the need for proper mental health, especially in the workplace. Doing so would not only enhance individual well-being but also enhance the output levels for the organization concerned.