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Mental Health in the Workplace

Written by: Alyssa Gibson
Published on: Jul 22, 2019

Mental health disorders are predicted to affect one in four people at some stage in their life (source: WHO). Globally, as of 2017, 970 million individuals suffer with mental health disorders. These disorders include anxiety, depression, bipolarism, and substance abuse. While treatments are available for the affected population, individuals rarely seek help from health professionals, leaving disorders to go untreated.


 In today’s society mental health is currently recovering from the stigma of being “taboo” or “unreal”. Many never acknowledged mental health as being an aspect of one’s biological makeup. Also, mental health problems were often not considered to be an ailment at as a variable that needed to be taken care of just as physical health.

However, like physical health, mental health should be looked at with the same concern and notion that “I must be healthy in all areas in order to be the best me”. Encouragingly, new discourse and exposure involving mental health has increasingly made mental health part of normative change. These endeavors are in the right direction, which seek to create an acceptance around mental health and address the complexity within.

                Although positive efforts have began, there is still so much more than can be done. Health experts have taken care of the medical factor by offering numerous effective therapies and prescriptions. However, what can be said about employers? Places of employment can have a tremendous impact on individuals’ mental health. Exposures to these environments daily, certainly affect one’s mental stability in both positive and negative ways. Due to this, there is therefore no question that employers should be making their employees mental health a top priority in the workplace.

Mental healthcare is already being advocated to be implemented into primary and general healthcare systems and not just institutions. However, much concern should also be implemented into the workplace. The amount of resources offered to assist mental health do not reflect the various triggers at work: working conditions, hours, pressure, etc., all affect employees’ mental health state. In addition to this different jobs carry varying levels of personal risk, some of which are more serious than others. High- pressure examples include being a first responder, a social worker, or a caregiver. Unfortunately, employers do not always incorporate various support tools essential to the support of mental health

A lack of support for mental health can also have an adverse impact on employees’ activities such as of communication, decision making, completion of tasks, levels of energy, and other related facets. This can worsen employees’ work productivity thus causing a decline in employee retention rate.

So what are the next steps? Of paramount importance is prevention; employers must ensure employees work in an environment conducive to creating “healthy” mental health. This would ensure that mental health would not worsen simply by going to work every day. Environments must be adaptable and suitable for a diverse range of employees. Furthermore, organizations should continue to recognize employees for their skills and strengths that are so vital and contribute towards personal success.

Personalized approaches should also be incorporated into employers’ dialogues with employees. Rather than looking at an employee as a badge number or a fulfillment of the budget, employers should understand that employees are human beings who have needs that should be recognized . Each employee is uniquely their own person, acknowledging this is the first step in making an employee comfortable at every level. Some employees may need longer breaks from workloads than others.

Modern methods for improving mental health in the workplace include providing recharge rooms , in order to give employees a place to “start over” before the work day is up. Whilst employers should take the lead in such shifts, the growth of normalizing mental health in the workplace is still stagnant. Accommodating mental health should not be considered to be a trend but more as an aspect of creating healthy working conditions. All employees who suffer with mental health disorders should be supported whatever the cause.

Companies must make strategic decisions and arrangements in order to effectively advance the acceptance and approach towards mental health.  Small key tactics can make a remarkable difference in employees’ attitude, satisfaction, work ethic, and overall productivity .