A typical employee spends at least 30 – 40 hours a week trying to serve clients, employers, and managers. They often encounter various stressors throughout the workweek which negatively impacts their mental health in the workplace. From anxiously trying to pitch an idea, strenuously catching up from work overload, or feeling low on self-esteem after being disrespected, our mental health is often overlooked.
Work is the last place employees want to discuss mental health out of fear of losing career opportunities, showing weakness, and the associated stigma that comes with mental health challenges. If mental health in the workplace continues to be poorly nurtured, it can contribute to low productivity, decreased workplace motivation, and increased emotional numbness.
If we want to be at our best, taking care of our mental health is a must. This article tackles what mental health is for young professionals, its importance, and some ways to promote positive mental health in the workplace.
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The Mental Health of Young Professionals.
Mental health encompasses our physical, emotional, psychological, and social well-being. Although derivatively psychological, it holistically involves the capacity to cope with stressors, connect with reality, and keep thoughts in check. The quality of our mental health is largely dependent on the circumstances of our tangible, social, security, personal, and self-actualization needs. That said, good mental health in the workplace means being productive while maintaining a balance between your mind and the environment.
The mental health of young professionals is not determined simply by the absence of a mental disorder but the presence of a healthy mind that helps individuals adapt and manage life stressors. A balanced relationship between the inner state of mind and the environment allows workers to be productive and make meaningful contributions in their workplace.
Importance of Mental Health in the Workplace
Excellent employee mental health can save an organization from low productivity, increased absenteeism, low staff morale, increased costs, and even serious financial setbacks. Poor mental health resulting from depression, stress, and anxiety is one of the leading causes of long and short-term workplace failures. People who have poor mental health miss an average of 5 – 6 days from work in three months. In the long run, that’s 200 – 300 million lost workdays a year, costing an employee between $20 and $60 billion. This means mental health in the workplace does not exclusively affect productivity— it also impacts profit scalability.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why should companies worry about mental health?
Poor mental health and emotional distress in the workplace can result in disengaged employees, poor communication, and subpar job performance. In worse cases, companies will experience increased employee turnover or absenteeism, poor decision-making, reduced profitability, and loss of valuable clients and customers.
What are some work-related risk factors that can affect mental health in the workplace?
Factors like inadequate health and safety policies such as overcrowding, poorly maintained equipment, dimly lit rooms, and unventilated facilities can fail to protect the well-being of employees. Employee workplace mental health can also be affected by poor communication and management practices, as this increases workplace stress and can cause strain on workplace relationships. Performance pressure, lack of support, and company culture can also affect an employees’ mental health. Workers will be constantly pushed to perform unrealistic tasks at optimal levels which often leads to increased workload and workhouses, stress, and emotional exhaustion.
What are some workplace incentives that actually work for mental health?
Workplace incentives such as work flexibility, training programs, promotion, and a positive work environment can help increase employee mental health. With workplace incentives, employee productivity increases along with their drive to achieve company goals. They are also more likely to stay committed and enthusiastic about their work performance.
8 Mental Health Awareness Activities for Workplace Settings
When it comes to promoting mental health in the workplace, there are some proactive options and awareness activities that both employees and employers can use to help an environment that nurtures mental health. Here are some mental health awareness activities for the workplace.
Available Employee Assistance Program.
This workplace program is designed to assist employees with work-related problems that constantly hurt their productivity and maybe hurt their job performance. It helps employees manage life-stressors of all kinds, stay focused on their duties at the workplace, keep productivity, engagement, and performance high, and genuinely improve the employee’s well-being in the process. This assistance should be provided to employees at no cost and remain confidential. Nonetheless, this EAP service must meet the organizational needs.
Available Relaxation Spaces.
Organizations should create and maintain dedicated, quiet spaces for relaxation activities so they get the opportunity to ease out and destress after hours of hard work. Aside from the typical kitchen room, this escape can include a diffuser, meditation pillow, bean bag, or any items that can help to serve as a therapeutic space for reflection and unwinding— perfect for building positive mental health.
Normalize Taking Breaks.
Make it acceptable to give short and long breaks to employees. Breaks take our minds off stressful events and help us refocus better. It can include walks, team picnics, dance time, game sessions, vacations, or monthly celebrations— anything to recalibrate the worker’s interest without compromising performance. Employees who take time to enjoy their breaks have reduced stress, anxiety, and depression. In fact, team breaks help to build team connections and engagements.
Get Active and Physical.
Although we don’t expect employees to come into the workplace with sweatpants and gym clothes, other forms of active exercises like yoga and pilates can help reduce symptoms of negative mental health to an extent. Upper and lower body desk exercises can help reduce fatigue and anxiety while simultaneously increasing feelings of energy. To help your employees stay active, consider bringing in fitness experts to give guided classes to your employees.
Provide Mental Health Self-assessment Tools.
Employees must be constantly reminded of what mental health is, how real it is and why it’s affecting their job performance. You can help by distributing brochures, flyers, and videos to all employees about the signs and symptoms of poor mental health and opportunities for treatment. You can also consider handling mental health self-assessment tools like mental health meter quizzes, mood assessments, or work-life balance quizzes. Although these tools don’t provide a diagnosis, it helps further evaluate the state of your employees.
Additionally, consider making your bulletin board mental health interactive by turning them into an engaging mental health awareness onsite platform that shows them print resources, fact sheets, and inspirational quotes about mental health. Employees can’t get the appropriate professional help if they don’t know they have a problem.
Offer Access to Mental Health Treatments and Consultations.
As a part of employees’ incentives and benefits, offering access to mental health screening, consultations, and treatment from mental health professionals can help and direct feedback on how each employee can handle and nurture positive mental health in the workplace.
Host Mental Health Seminars, Training or Workshops Events.
Organizations can provide training, seminars, or workshops that address mental health and stress management techniques in the workplace. Employees will benefit from knowing there are healthy ways to reduce anxiety, handle stress, improve focus and motivation and promote positive mental health through mindfulness, breathing exercises, and meditation. This training should also help employees recognize the signs and symptoms of stress and depression in team members and encourage them to seek help from qualified mental health professionals.
Promote Acts of Kindness.
A touch of optimism through kindness can do wonders. Start by randomly surprising your employees with valuable wellness gift items like a spa getaway, positive self-help books, or subscriptions to meditation apps to help them take better care of their mental health. You can also randomly assign employees “gift buddies” wearing the goal of said gifts should be to encourage your employee to relax and take time out to focus on themselves. Encouraging acts of kindness can boost happiness and confidence with and between employees.
To sum up,
Organizations and employees who constantly create an environment for workplace mental health have a happier, healthier, more productive workforce, especially for those in a fast-paced, constantly changing industry like IT.