Over the years, the stigma around mental health has become a lot better, people feel comfortable discussing mental health challenges that they have and are a lot more open about addressing mental health in everyday life.
Whilst the discourse has improved, people still find it hard to completely open up in areas such as the workplace.
Today, I will go into how you can address your own mental health to others, as well as why people should talk about mental health and what employers can do to encourage employees to speak up about any mental health struggles they may be having.
What is Mental Health?
Mental health is broken down into key factors such as emotional, psychological, and social well-being.
Our mental health impacts our ideas, actions, thoughts, and feelings, plus it influences how we interact with people and cope with stress.
As the years go by, people’s mental health will change with different experiences happening and events.
It can go up and down depending on what is happening in life, and people who are dealing with recurrent issues in their personal life may find that their mental health causes a lot more problems as they carry on.
What Kind of Common Mental Health Issues Are There?
- Anxiety disorder
- Eating disorder
- Bipolar disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
These are quite well-known mental health conditions that people can suffer from, so if you or anyone else thinks that they may have a mental health disorder or are showing signs of mental illness, it is crucial that a specialist is consulted for further examination.
Why Should Mental Health in The Workplace Be Discussed?
You may come across some people who feel that if you have a mental health condition or are going through a bad time with your mental illness, you should keep it to yourself so that you don’t make people feel awkward or make managers feel like they cannot ‘trust you’.
This type of thinking in this day and age is incorrect as mental health challenges need to be talked about a lot more to help with community building, healing, and company culture.
Mental health and physical health go hand in hand, people can find it hard to function within an environment that stifles who they are, leading to workplace stress which can cause sickness and pain.
What Are The Statistics on Mental Health?
It has been noted that 80% of people will suffer from a diagnosable mental health condition during their lifetime, but, even for those who do not have a mental health condition, it is still important that they take part in speaking about it for everyone’s overall health.
Around 62% of employees, conducted through a survey a few years ago, have said that they want the leaders in their company to talk about mental health so they can feel comfortable in their work environment as well as less alone.
Reasons to Talk About Mental Health in The Workplace
Here are some important reasons why talking about mental health is important within the workplace.
It Fights The Mental Health Stigma
If we perpetuate a culture that emphasizes non-stop work and pushes away feelings and issues, that can make employees feel scared, upset, and go through unnecessary stress.
Fighting the stigma can help people feel productive, have a sense of achievement, and know that they are valued within their work environment.
So many employees will deny that they are struggling, especially if they feel like it will affect their career growth.
It Is Helpful To Employees Who Need Support
If workers don’t ask for help because they think they can’t, they might suffer quietly, feeling alone.
That’s why having something like an employee assistance program can guide them and prevent them from feeling like a bother for seeking help. Managers can team up with companies like Thrive Mental Wellbeing, which offers corporate mental health programs, and set one up for their staff. Managers can also suggest employees visit Thrive’s mental health blog and other resources to better handle mental health issues at work. This can create a workplace where everyone feels supported.
How to Talk About Mental Health at Work
Talking about mental health in the workplace should not be seen as an uphill battle.
Talking about mental health is important, and as long as you speak your mind about what is going on with you, your boss should be able to put plans in place to help you out when and where you need it.
Be Direct About What You Are Going Through
Skirting over the issue is not going to help you out when you are trying to get the correct support for stress management and other mental health care.
Explain what you are going through as directly as you can with as much information that you can offer to them.
Getting it off your chest can help a lot, and they may be able to refer you to employee assistance within the company, as well as support you in outside help such as seeing a therapist.
Discuss Your Roles and Responsibilities
If you are experiencing burnout because you are juggling your personal life as well as work life, either because you are a new parent or there is something happening with a sick loved one, then talking about what you are dealing with can help them adjust your work day-to-day life.
They can help you maneuver around it and provide reasonable accommodations to what you need so that you take care of your own mental health as well as keep functioning at work.
Do Check-Ins With Your Manager
It can be incredibly helpful if you check in with your manager when you need to and let them know how you are doing, you may also want to discuss how you feel with your colleagues too as this helps open up the conversation and provide people with a better understanding of what you are going through, potentially getting them to open up too.
Figure Out a Plan of Action
It is one thing to discuss the issues you are going through, but you need to be able to let them know that you are taking steps to help your mental health or at least adjusting your life to fit in with what you are going through.
When you speak to your manager/managers, show them what resources you have accessed as well as talk to them about what employee support there is and if you are eligible.
Showing them that you have done your research and that despite the fact that this is ongoing, you are doing everything you can to help yourself, will show you in a positive light.
What Can Employers Do to Help Employees?
Employers have a role in how their employees are doing at work, it is essential that they take the time to show employees that they are there for them and they do care about their mental health care.
Whether employees speak to their manager or the HR department, they need to know that they are comfortable talking about mental health and they can come to work without feeling like they have to put on a face.
Checking in With Employees and Listening to Them
It is essential that employers check in with their staff, whether it is a one-on-one short meeting, or they have a full-on discussion about how they are feeling.
Forging that connection through conversation is highly important as it helps employees feel like they are able to open up and don’t shut themselves away when asked how they are really doing whilst at work.
When employees talk, it may seem fine to just nod and say a few words, but employees need to know that what they have said is being taken on board, that is why employers should ask follow-up questions, offer guidance, and show empathy in what the employee/employees are going through.
Providing Access to Employee Programs
Having solutions to employee issues can go a long way in supporting them in the workplace.
If an employee is looking for targeted support and they want to do it in the best way they can, employers need to be able to have something on hand that can benefit everyone involved, ensuring that employees do have a voice and they can be supported in the right way.
Wellness programs as well as employee-assisted programs can really be a step up in breaking mental health stigma and aiding staff where necessary.
Normalize Conversations About Mental Health as Much as Possible
Having meetings based on mental health help, what people should be looking out for, and how people can seek help is essential to mental health support.
Opening up that dialogue and letting everyone know that it is normal to feel this way and that it is nothing to be ashamed of can show people that it is okay to talk about what they are going through and that they don’t need to feel like they have to hide their feelings.
Knowing how to talk about mental health at work is not easy for people who are used to hiding away from their feelings, but, creating a dialogue around it and showing people that it is safe to talk can go a long way in not only helping yourself but others too.
We have luckily gone past the days where mental health discussions are seen as taboo, people are able to open up so much more, which is why we can’t stop now and we have to keep pushing through and showing people that it is important to be open and honest about struggles in life.