The link between work and mental health is a strong one. With the abundance of research on employee engagement and work life balance, there’s no reason organizations shouldn’t be discussing this topic. Unfortunately, there aren’t many that truly value the mental health of their employees and realize that job performance and productivity suffer heavily when working conditions are poor. Businesses run like this end up failing, and management always wonders why.
Sometimes, we have to choose between a job that makes us unhappy and unemployment, which can also impact mental health. The work environment and organization’s culture can have a significant impact on the well-being of workers. Good working conditions can have many benefits such as productivity and innovation while negative working conditions end up exacerbating existing issues. Also, the capacity to perform well is reduced when employees aren’t in the right headspace. They won’t work as safely and will injure themselves, and the company will see high turnover because employees aren’t happy. Imagine how our economy would turn out if all companies were run this way.
The good news is that it isn’t difficult to foster real change within an organization. Mainly, the company culture can bring about awareness for work life balance and stress management. Wellness programs can also be implemented so that each employee has the resources they need. Mental health treatment isn’t usually covered by health insurance, so it’s important that management teams include wellness programs and mental health training whenever they can. Real change starts from the top because when leaders start a conversation around mental health, they’re reducing the stigma surrounding the topic.
On the employee side, the ways in which we can protect our mental health are simple. It starts with ourselves. We need to first be kind to ourselves. When you’re late for a deadline and feeling burnt out, yelling at yourself won’t benefit you - it can actually hurt your productivity. When you pressure yourself less, you actually get more done. Next, we need to take care of ourselves. Try to get a good night’s sleep whenever you can and try making eating a priority. Because when our bodies are at 100%, our brains are too. And lastly, exercise can help relieve stress and body tension, especially if you work a desk job for eight or more hours a day. I’ve tried all of these methods and they’ve all worked for me. I feel more focused and clear in my ideas, and found that meditation helps as well. It helps when I’m feeling stressed or anxious because I can identify the root of these feelings. I am able to work through these emotions in a way that I’ve never done before. These are all very easy changes you can make that can only benefit you.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2019). Mental health in the workplace. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/workplacehealthpromotion/tools-resources/workplace-health/mental-health/index.html