Career Testing
Career Testing
Career Testing
WORKPLACE / JUN. 15, 2014
version 9, draft 9

How to Manage Mental Health at Work

mental health
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We are busier than ever. With school, parenting, volunteering, and more; it’s hard to maintain a balance. We spend a large portion of our time at work, which is why it’s so important to create a proper work-life balance. 

Our busy lives are testing our physical and mental health. With stress levels through the roof, we’re seeing more and more cases of mental health disorders. It is no surprise that companies are now implementing mental health resources for their employees. 

It is important to take care of your mental health. If you have recently been diagnosed with a mental health condition, you are probably wondering what will happen at work. How will you cope? Hopefully this guide will make the process easier. 

The Most Common Mental Health Issues

  1. Mood Disorders: If you suffer from a mood disorder, you know it’s more than feeling ’blue.’ This includes major depression, which can be very challenging in the workplace.
  2. Personality Disorders: If you suffer from a personality disorder you will find it hard to function throughout the day. Regular everyday situations become a challenge. There are various personality disorders. The most common are; borderline personality disorder, antisocial personality disorder, and avoidant personality disorder.
  3. Eating Disorders: There are three main eating disorders; anorexia, bulimia, and binge-eating disorder. These life threatening illnesses are marked by extreme behaviours.
  4. ADHD: Although attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is more commonly seen in children, adults experience this disorder as well. Work can be extremely difficult, and these individuals will exhibit abnormal behaviours. Staying focused is a common issue, which can make work tasks very difficult. ADHD patients will also be very disorganised, struggle with starting new tasks, have poor listening skills, and will often be late to work.
  5. Phobias: This will cause individuals to be so fearful, that their daily life is continuously interrupted. Social phobias are especially problematic within the workplace. 
  6. Anxiety Disorders: There are various anxiety disorders; obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and general anxiety disorder. All of these anxiety disorders highly differ, yet they all include high levels of anxiety. This can create physical symptoms such as; vomiting, sweating, trembling, and tension in muscles. 

How to Manage Your Personal Mental Health at Work

There are numerous resources available from the NHS. If you are unsure what is occurring, your symptoms are a great place to start. It is important to know what you’re dealing with.

If you believe that you’re suffering from a mental illness, you should seek some professional help. They will be able to better assist you, and pinpoint what the issue is. You cannot improve if you aren’t fully aware of what’s going on. Once you have been diagnosed, here are some basic tips.

  • Make sure you are getting enough sleep. If you are deprived of sleep, your work performance will suffer. Mental health issues widely vary, but this is especially true for mood disorders. Not getting enough sleep can have a negative effect on anyone’s mood. If you are susceptible to depression for example, sleep is key.
  • Focus on your social supports. Who assists you at work? Does anyone contribute to your feelings of stress and discomfort? It’s important to look at your social network. If there are individuals that make your symptoms worse, this needs to be resolved. If there are people who help you, be open to their ideas and assistance.
  • Diet is important when addressing mental health issues. Foods that are high in sugar, fat, and salt can impact your overall health and mental illness. It’s important to consume nutrient-rich foods. It is not uncommon to see eating habits suffer in relation to mental health issues. Substance abuse is a common coping mechanism. This will make your symptoms worse, and cause your overall health to diminish.  
  • Turn to someone you trust at work. If you have a close relationship with your boss, let them know what’s happening. You do not need to face this on your own. Your boss may be able to offer you resources that you never even knew existed. 
  • Make a plan of action. What needs to be worked on? What steps need to be taken? Start exploring your options, making appointments. You need to start getting answers, that way you’ll be able to tackle your illness. 
  • You may already be visiting a local mental health facility, that is great! It is important to be around trained professionals that can assist you. You may also want to join a support group. There are support groups that you can attend in person, there are also online support groups. 
  • Exercise regularly, benefiting your mental illness and overall health. This is a great way to explore activities you enjoy. Start with small goals, maybe exercising twice a week. If you begin with small attainable goals, you’re more likely to continually reach them. 
  • Practice relaxation skills; this will help you calm down when situations become overwhelming. Deep breathing and mediation are great examples of helpful activities. Some find that art relaxes them, while others prefer yoga. Find something you love that relaxes your mind. 

How to Manage an Employee’s Mental Health at Work

If you notice that an employee is struggling due to their mental health, you’ll need to offer assistance. Your efforts will have a positive impact on the individual, as well as the company. Here are some tips if you believe an employee is suffering from a mental health issue. 

  • Look into company resources. What is available for this scenario? If there is some form of Employee Assistance Program, try to offer this resource. 
  • Think about how you can accommodate this individual. Perhaps you could modify their work. Specific modifications may highly benefit both the individual, and the company. Increasing productivity, while making them more comfortable. 
  • It is up to you in terms of management skills. You do not want to increase their stress levels. Approach them in a gentle, honest, and caring manner. Discuss how you can make their environment more comfortable. 
  • Focus on their strong points, and the ways that they positively impact the company. It’s important to start off by showing them that they’re valued. You can then discuss areas of concern, and how they can be modified. 
  • Remember, you can only offer help. It is up to the individual if they would like to receive it. If the individual is resistant, you may need to explore other options. You cannot probe into their personal life, or try and diagnose them. These illnesses need to be dealt with by professionals. If you have done your part to provide them with help, you have done what you need to do. 
  • You can find numerous resources and information regarding mental health in the workplace. Mind offers beneficial information and ideas. 

Changes Need to Be Made

When it comes to mental illness, there’s still a lot of work to be done. Here are the top three things that need to change:

  1. Eliminate Stigma: There is a negative attitude towards those suffering from a mental illness. This stigma is very damaging, and needs to be corrected. The stigma associated with poor mental health prevents many individuals from seeking the assistance they need. If someone isolates themselves, they’re more than likely trying to hide their symptoms and overall condition. If this stigma didn’t exist, more people would be willing to address their issues.
  2. Increased Awareness: Mental health needs to be a priority in the workplace. Many employers are taking mental health seriously, but too many still aren’t. Psychological ailments need to be treated the same as physical diseases. Just because you cannot see the effects of mental illness does not mean it’s not real. It’s very real for those suffering, and changes need to be made.
  3. Proper Resources: The right tools need to be provided to employers. If the correct resources are available, a greater work-life balance can be achieved for these individuals.   

So remember, you’re not alone. There are resources to help you during this difficult time. If you are suffering from a mental health disorder, there’s nothing to be ashamed of. You need to focus on getting better, so that you can improve your life. You can control your mental health, don’t let it control you.

 

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