Awareness about mental health has been on the rise over the last years but it has reached a peak during the COVID-19 pandemic due to the implementation of restrictions, social distancing and teleworking. Those measures have had a great impact on people’s lives and consequently have led efforts towards a better management and recognition of mental health issues, especially those affecting employees within the workplace.
What does mental health mean and why is it so important?
Mental health refers to cognitive, behavioral, and emotional well-being. It is how people think, feel, behave, and deal with ups and downs. Enjoying good mental health means having a sense of purpose and direction as well as having the energy to do the things we want to do. Plus, it gives us the ability to deal with the challenges that appear in our lives.
Therefore, paying attention to it is synonymous with helping ourselves develop our full potential, learning to cope with difficult situations, and being present in our relationships, workplace, and community. However, this does not mean your mental health should stay the same as you and your circumstances change, because fluctuating is inherent to human nature.
The key is counting with emotional tools to find balance whenever you are feeling distressed or frustrated; but above all, being capable of reaching out for help if necessary. Remember that the earlier we recognize something is not going well, the sooner we can get support.
How do I recognize a mental health problem?
There are many symptoms and signs a person can experience that may be showing something is affecting their mental health. For instance, they may find it difficult to be focused on their daily activities, they might look more tired or drained and feel overwhelmed, have outbursts of anger or emotion, and unkempt their personal appearance. Also, they may feel unmotivated and more comfortable in isolation, avoiding people and obligations; or, on the contrary, they might speed up and become obsessed with productivity, taking on more work than they can manage. Along with this, insomnia may affect their ability to get to sleep.
Sometimes it may be hard to see those signs in ourselves, however, it is important that you seek help if your feelings are: preventing you from getting on with life, heavily affecting the people that surround you, altering your mood during an extended period of time, causing you to develop suicidal thoughts.
Tips to support mental health in the workplace
Survey employees about mental health
In order to help your employees, first you should know what stresses them out the most. Making a survey will give you a clear idea of what are their main issues and difficulties when it comes to working.
Creating an inclusive and supportive environment at work, where people can feel safe to be themselves, makes a huge difference in the way we communicate and approach our coworkers and colleagues. This could be vital if we were dealing with anxiety, distress, or depression and did not know how to manage the situation, because it could encourage us to open up, talk about our emotions, and receive help.
Provide tools and resources
A workplace that prioritizes psychological well-being stimulates everyone to improve their mental health. In that sense, speaking candidly about mental health and providing your employees with relevant information about the topic could promote awareness and make them feel cared for. Moreover, you could help them reduce stress by providing wellness benefits such as having flexible working hours, enabling teleworking, offering free yoga classes or gym memberships, giving organic lunches, etc.
Make time for fun
When an employee is suffering or having a bad time, so does their work. Make yourself available to interact with them and simply have fun. Maybe you could organize a game, connect over chat, or plan an after office to get to know them better. Having a fluid and positive relationship with your employees will increase their productivity, build trust, and help relieve stress.
Watch your employees’ hours
It is important to understand that to find a balance between professional and personal life, we should be able to be responsible with our activities but also learn to enjoy our free time. Resting is vital to recharge and reconnect with our loved ones, as well as to stay mentally healthy. Plus, it can prevent us from burnout. That is why it is vital that employers respect working hours and encourage employees to disconnect and relax after work.
All in all, mental health issues can manifest in different ways and be experienced differently depending on each person’s background and history. It is a very sensitive topic and it deserves to be talked about and taken seriously. At Win & Winnow we foster a work culture of diversity and inclusion where everyone feels comfortable being their most authentic selves. We carry out a well-being program to encourage our team to lead a healthy lifestyle, keep a balance between their professional and personal lives, and enjoy time off to take care of themselves in whatever way they choose to do so.
If you are struggling with anxiety, depression, or just feeling that you cannot cope with your life, we kindly advise you to rely on your beloved ones and reach out for professional help. You matter and you are not alone.