It’s no secret that mental health crises have increased in the past year. Whether it be due to work issues or health concerns, many have stated that 2020 was the most stressful year ever. According to data gathered in 2020, 76% of workers believe their employer should be doing more to protect their mental health during this turbulent time. Because just like COVID-19, mental health issues can take on different shapes and sizes across every job and generation.
As we enter 2021, the global workforce is still adapting to the new workplace. Many see challenges in remote work, and employees are seeking support from their employers. Working at home can often be isolating and can lead to miscommunication and misunderstandings. This lack of socialization can then impact work efficiency and lead to low employee engagement and satisfaction. It’s important that leaders in organizations incorporate consistent mental health trainings in their employees’ work schedules from home. As opposed to before the pandemic, there is a greater need for these trainings. Employees are struggling even more with burnout and work-life balance. Mental health is starting to become recognized as essential as physical health. Many studies have found that there is a direct link between mental and physical health where one can affect the other. And it makes sense - if we aren’t in a great mental space, we won’t worry about our physical health.
Mental health training can impact managers’ knowledge, attitudes, and behavior towards employees with mental health problems and its effect on employee sickness absence. They are more sympathetic to employees who need to take time off because of burnout, stress, or other mental health issues. Additionally, mental health training teaches employees about common mental health conditions. It reduces the stigma surrounding mental health issues and helps teach people to spot the warning signs. Employees can help prevent issues from developing into more serious situations. In my experience, I’ve seen organizations I’ve worked for launch wellness programs and offer other resources to help keep their employees healthy and happy. One amazing tool I’ve seen numerous companies utilize is the Calm app. It features a full content library of sounds, music, meditations, and more. They offer streaming services and wellness courses for businesses while the public version is free to download. Almost everyone I know who’s used it loved it and received a lot of benefits from it ranging from improved sleep to mindfulness.
One great example of an organization that takes mental health training seriously is Zappos. The leaders at Zappos have really stepped up for their employees because of their commitment to employee health and well-being. They have helped their staff with medical care as well as mental health services and counseling. They really listen to their employees’ needs and genuinely try to help them with whatever they can. No wonder why their employees have high engagement and job satisfaction. Companies like Zappos who are aware of how important the mental health of their employees is and who can implement wellness programs and trainings will receive huge returns in investment. I guarantee it.
Milligan-Seville, J. S., Tan, L., Gayed, A., Barnes, C., Madan, I. & Dobson, M. (2017). Workplace mental health training for managers and its effect on sick leave in employees: A cluster randomised controlled trial. The Lancet, 4(11). doi:10.1016/S2215-0366(17)30372-3
As humans, we love talking about ourselves. It’s an innate trait that helps us connect with others and be vulnerable when needed. Healthy conversations consist of both parties sharing facts and stories about their lives. However, narcissistic individuals hate when the focus is on other people. They will start to dominate conversations with their own thoughts and opinions, earning them the title of conversational narcissists.
This concept was coined by Charles Derber, a sociologist and author. He states that these type of people almost always takes over the conversation and make it about them. For many, this shift happens subtly and unconsciously while the other parties are almost unaware it’s even occurring. If someone uses the "support response" when talking to others, the focus is kept on them. But conversational narcissism means people use the "shift response" as they try and claim that limelight for themselves. For example, if someone says they have a headache, a support response would be "I understand. Is it a headache? I have something for that," while a shift response is "Me too, I barely got any sleep last night because of the kids.”
Narcissists can take the shift response to the next level. First, they “pepper” the conversation with disinterested support responses to give the illusion they’re listening. Next, they shift 90% of the conversation towards them and their needs. And because these conversations are never truly about you, the narcissist reinforces the belief that you are supposed to give and give to get an inch of their attention. Your role is to basically support, soothe, or even stroke their ego, creating a toxic relationship. It’s important to note that conversational narcissists don’t necessarily meet the criteria for a formal diagnosis of narcissistic personality disorder. They may actually be very anxious and bind their anxiety by talking about what is familiar to them - which may be themselves.
Fortunately, there are many signs that can indicate whether you or someone you know is a conversational narcissist. They usually:
Here’s how to respond to a conversational narcissist:
And lastly, if you feel that you talk too much about yourself in conversations, here’s how to avoid being a conversational narcissist:
These are simple conversational strategies that can be largely overlooked. Sometimes it’s the basic rules that we forget about that can create amazing conversations with others.
Dodgson, L. (2019). Narcissists use a subtle conversation tactic to make everything about them, and you may not notice it until its driving you crazy. Insider. Retrieved from https://www.insider.com/how-conversational-narcissism-makes-you-feel-like-youre-going-crazy-2019-7
Moore, A. (2020). 4 signs you’re talking to a conversational narcissist. Mindbodygreen. Retrieved from https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/conversational-narcissist-definition-and-signs
Many people will experience anxiety at some point in their lives. It’s a normal response to stressful life events that can boost efficiency at healthy levels. However, when symptoms of anxiety become larger than the events that triggered them and begin to interfere with your life, they could be signs of an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders can be debilitating, but they can be managed with proper help from a medical professional. Recognizing the symptoms is the first step. Unfortunately, there are also symptoms that are subtle and are not as common. Let’s dive into what these may look like.
Psychologists have developed seven categories of anxiety disorders. They are:
Each category is complex with a wide range of symptoms. Common anxiety symptoms include rapid heartbeat, excessive trembling and sweating, nausea and dizziness, chest pain and headaches, and weakness and tingling in the limbs. Other physical symptoms such as rash, leg pain, and feelings of choking are less common but may appear in some cases. In regards to psychological signs of anxiety, these include worrying, agitation, restlessness, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and avoidance of social situations.
Subtle signs that don’t really scream “anxiety” can manifest as well. One example is jaw pain. This can stem from anxiety because it causes you to clench and grind your teeth while you are both awake and asleep. This can then lead to headaches which exacerbates feelings of anxiety. Having intrusive thoughts can also be a sign of anxiety, especially in people with OCD. Also known as ruminating, it can make you less present and imagining the worst. This can lead to unnecessary stress and headaches as well. Other uncommon symptoms of anxiety include hoarding, scattered thinking, overspending, impulsivity, indecisiveness, and disorganization. I have personally seen hoarding situations in my family and my friends’ families that were directly linked to mental health and anxiety. Many may see this as an easy issue to fix when in reality, it’s extremely difficult for hoarders to part with their stuff. I’ve learned that we can never really know the root cause of these behaviors and may assume that these are easy fixes. We may wonder, “Well why don’t you just organize your room?” or “Why can’t you ever remember things?” We have to understand their side of the story. If we ever encounter our loved ones in these situations exhibiting these types of behaviors, we should first ask ourselves why they act this way and how we can figure out what is the root of their anxiety. Anxiety can be a vicious circle of signs and symptoms that if not fixed, can cause even more anxiety down the line. Fortunately for us, anxiety disorders are completely controllable with the help of friends, family, and mental health professionals.
Abraham, M. (2020). The 6 main types of anxiety: which do you have? Calm Clinic. Retrieved from https://www.calmclinic.com/anxiety-guide/main-types