Normalizing Discussing Mental Health at Work

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May 28, 2021
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mental health at work

It shouldn’t take much thought to realize that the state of your mental health can play a huge role in your productivity. Despite this, it’s quite likely that you and your coworkers never discuss your mental health. For the past year, scores of people have struggled with unemployment, and among those who are employed, mental health issues have run rampant. Depending on the culture of your workplace, you may find yourself entirely discouraged from discussing or sharing thoughts or experiences related to your mental health, even if they affect your productivity.

Although businesses create and assign jobs to build up their productivity, businesses and individual jobs alike are run by people – people who have families and entire lives apart from their careers. While it’s admirable for a career to offer a strong health insurance plan, some of the greatest benefits can come from having relevant mental health resources on-site that employees could turn to in difficult times.

Getting the Conversation Started

As an employee, you are under no obligation to discuss anything about your mental health with your employer. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), potential employers may not ask you any questions about your mental or physical health in an interview or once you are on the job. This rule gives you the right to certain accommodations as long as they don’t cause unfair hardship to the employer.

To get these accommodations, you will have to talk about some aspects of your mental health with your employer. Although this is often the extent of the conversation, leaving the door open for those who are comfortable can be beneficial to employees as individuals and the company as a whole.

On the other hand, ignoring mental health pretending like the employees are robots can be unhealthy. If more jobs took care of the mental health of their employees, some businesses might see lower turnaround rates. Simply having monthly or weekly check-ins that have nothing to do with work can go a long way. Just starting that conversation can completely change the culture of the workplace. Managers could assign mental health buddies to look out for one another.

When onboarding new employees, companies could lightly evaluate new hires to clarify that they’re coming into a company that wants to create a healthy, respectful atmosphere. Many companies stand to benefit from implementing a workplace culture reset to create happier employees.

Leadership and Mental Health

Of the numerous leadership styles you may find in the professional world, every leader should hold some degree of empathy for the people they manage. Unfortunately, countless workplaces promote a ruthless culture that can scare employees away from discussing mental health, causing many people to enter employment protecting themselves.

While it’s understandable to strive for a workplace environment that keeps employees on their toes, it can make a world of difference for people in charge to set up different activities that promote mental health, the same as setting up team-building exercises. If your workplace is far too austere for that concept to take hold, try to consider why you might not want to talk about your mental health at work. If it’s because you think your boss, coworkers, Human Resources department, or company overall wouldn’t be supportive, it might not hurt you to consider other options with more empathy.

What You Can Do as an Employee

If you want to change attitudes toward mental health in the workplace, it is important to spread awareness on these issues to help your co-workers identify problems that may otherwise go unnoticed. Identifying the signs of mental illness early on can give people the opportunity to proactively access the support they need before things get worse. Promoting the discussion of mental health in the workplace will shed light on the fact that anyone is subject to needing help at any time. This creates an environment where people feel more comfortable with the prospect of acknowledging and working on their mental health.

The key to normalizing mental health discussions in the workplace is to appeal to everyone at your job. You can even try to appeal to those responsible for investing in the mental health support of all employees. Providing access to mental health services can allow your workforce to internalize the importance of this form of self-awareness, ensuring that potential mental health issues are prevented or managed properly. This will engage the members of your organization and enable your co-workers or employees to take control of their mental health.

In many cases, it may still be taboo to discuss mental health at the workplace. Despite this fact, it’s still possible and important to develop a strong professional culture that facilitates the inclusion of mental health issues for those who are comfortable discussing them. You don’t have to be in a leadership position to influence your workplace culture; all you have to do is spark the interest of the people who have the power to organize a mental health campaign. The state of your mental health can impact your productivity and overall ability as an employee. If you or a loved one are struggling with mental health or addiction and aren’t sure how to manage your issues alongside your job, reach out to The Kimberly Center. Our facility in Fort Myers, Florida, provides multiple options for effective treatment designed to get you on track towards long-term health and happiness. Contact us at (855) 452-3683 today to get started.

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