Mental Health in the Workplace
When it comes to creating a supportive work culture, we all have a role to play.
The concept of workplace wellness is nothing new. These days, countless employers big and small tout their commitment to supporting their employees' personal needs, usually through benefits packages and other health initiatives. Less discussed are the actual issues these programs seek to address—and in particular, mental health in the workplace tends to get the short end of the stick.
Even in our age of radical transparency, there's an overwhelming sense of hesitance around discussing mental health at work out of fear that divulging a mental health issue could have a negative effect on overall job security.
But by the same token, mental health issues like anxiety and major depressive disorder are far from unusual. According to the Monster Future of Work: 2021 Outlook survey, 31% of US respondents have experienced anxiety and 15% experienced depression because of their job. Women experience this even more, with 36% of women reporting anxiety versus 26% of men. Additionally, 11% of women have experienced loneliness and 17% have had physical ailments such as headaches because of their job.
Wondering where to find support? Let's dig a little deeper into mental health in the workplace.
Know Where to Turn
As the CDC notes, poor mental health can have a marked negative impact on factors like job performance, productivity, and relationships with one's colleagues. But in terms of accessing the right resources to address mental illness in the workplace, it's not always so easy to know where to start.
Some people might feel more comfortable talking to their manager or another supervisor rather than going straight to HR. But maybe it’s the exact opposite for you. What’s important is that you reach out to let someone know how you are feeling.
Of course, it's also worth exploring your job's benefits program and Employee Assistance Plans (or EAPs), which seek to address personal issues that can have an impact on job performance. While resources will vary from one employer to the next, many are placing an increased focus on mental health—particularly after the COVID-19 pandemic. As an increasing reliance on remote teams blurred the line between work and personal life, more employers started offering mental health resources in the form of apps, videos, and webinars.
Additionally, take a moment to familiarize yourself with your rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act. This law prevents employers from discriminating against job seekers with mental illnesses, and also includes rules stating companies must provide “reasonable accommodations” to employees protected under the act. If you suspect you're being discriminated against at work due to a mental health issue, get in touch with an attorney specializing in employment laws like the ADA.
Create a Supportive Work Environment
When it comes to looking after your own mental health, there are countless strategies to consider—taking breaks, scheduling time off for mental health days at work, and knowing when to ask for help are all great, small ways of helping ensure your needs don't get short shrift.
But supporting your colleagues is an equally important part of the equation. Check in with your co-workers to see how they're doing, and give them a chance to respond in an authentic way. While it can be difficult or awkward to talk about mental health in the workplace, everyone plays a role in creating an environment that's warm and supportive, not casually dismissive.
Company leadership should let employees know it's okay to discuss mental health issues at work. An organization that provides resources and benefits that address the well-being of employees is a great sign of a supportive work environment. That includes regular reminders of how to access support as well as allowing for time off when it's needed.
Your Wellbeing Is Essential to Your Career
Talking about mental health in the workplace is something that still needs to be normalized. Could you use more tips to help you navigate the daily grind? Monster offers workplace insights, career advice, and job search tips. Create a profile for free and you’ll get these resources sent directly to you. There's no need to go it alone.
This article is not intended as a substitute for professional legal advice. Always seek the advice of an attorney regarding any legal questions you may have.