Don’t you feel sometimes all you want to do is just to take some time off and focus on yourself both physically and mentally instead of just work and work and more work?
If you do, it is a sign that you are suffering from mental health depression at work!
Mental health is one of the last remaining taboos in the workplace. Yet according to World Health Organization one in every six workers experience depression, anxiety or stress at workplace and this is a significant portion of the workforce. It also appears as if attitudes towards mental health in the workplace remain in the dark ages where 56% of employers say they wouldn’t hire someone with depression. Globally, more than 300 million people suffer from depression, the leading cause of disability, with many of these people also suffering from symptoms of anxiety. A recent WHO-led study estimates that depression and anxiety disorders cost the global economy US$ 1 trillion each year in lost productivity. Unemployment is a well-recognized risk factor for mental health problems, while returning to, or getting work is protective. A negative working environment may lead to physical and mental health problems, harmful use of substances or alcohol, absenteeism and lost productivity. Workplaces that promote mental health and support people with mental disorders are more likely to reduce absenteeism, increase productivity and benefit from associated economic gains.
What are the work related risk factors for health?
There are many risk factors involved for mental health that may be present in your working space that even you may not be aware of. .Most of these risks are interrelated which are mostly interactions between for example type of work, the organizational and managerial environment, the skills and competencies of employees, and the support available for employees to carry out their work.
Risks to mental health include:
- inadequate health and safety policies
- poor communication and management practices
- limited participation in decision-making or low control over one’s area of work
- low levels of support for employees;
- inflexible working hour
- unclear tasks or organizational objectives
Risks may also be related to job content, such as unsuitable tasks for the person’s competencies or a high and unrelenting workload. Some jobs may carry a higher personal risk than others. For example, first responders and humanitarian workers, which can have an impact on mental health and be a cause of symptoms of mental disorders, or lead to harmful use of alcohol or psychoactive drugs. Risk may be increased in situations where there is a lack of team cohesion or social support.
Bullying and psychological harassment at workplace also known as “mobbing” are reported as the most common cause of work-related stress by workers and present risks to the health of workers. They are associated with both psychological and physical problems. These health consequences can cost the employers big time in terms of reducing productivity and increasing staff turnover. They can also have a negative impact on family and social interactions and personally too.
How to overcome Mental Issues at Work?
1)Creating a healthy workplace
A healthy workplace can be described as one where workers and managers actively contribute to the working environment by promoting and protecting the health, safety and well-being of all employees. A healthy workplace should firstly, protect mental health by reducing work–related risk factors and also promote mental health by developing the positive aspects of work and the strengths of employees and lastly address mental health problems regardless of cause.
2)Supporting people with mental disorders at work
Organizations have a responsibility to support individuals with mental disorders in either continuing or returning to work. Research shows that unemployment, particularly long-term unemployment, can have a detrimental impact on mental health. Many of the initiatives outlined above may help individuals with mental disorders. In particular, flexible hours, job-redesign, addressing negative workplace dynamics, and supportive and confidential communication with management can help people with mental disorders continue to or return to work. Access to evidence-based treatments has been shown to be beneficial for depression and other mental disorders. Because of the stigma associated with mental disorders, employers need to ensure that individuals feel supported and able to ask for support in continuing with or returning to work and are provided with the necessary resources to do their job.
3)Know Your Rights
The Malaysian Employment Act 1955, states that your employer has to work with you to try to overcome health problems. And don’t forget that it’s in your boss’s own interests to accommodate you. Anxiety and depression, the most common mental health issues, have been estimated to cause a fifth of the days lost to sickness in Britain.
It can be hard talking about such an emotional and personal subject at work, but focusing on practicalities and logistics can take the charge out of it. Try to suggest some concrete things that might help you cope. For example, switching to flexible or part-time hours for a while might give you some much-needed space to breathe. Would the option to work from home some days take the pressure off? Coming into the conversation prepared with potential solutions could make the conversation seem less daunting.If you’re nervous about talking to your manager, or if things don’t go well when you do, it’s worth having a chat to your organisation’s HR or occupational health department – but your line manager should be your first port of call.
Here are some guidelines your company can take to create a healthy workplace:
- Creating awareness of the workplace environment and how it can be adapted to promote better mental health for different employees.
- Learning from the motivations of organizational leaders and employees who have taken action.
- Not reinventing wheels by being aware of what other companies who have taken action have done.
- Understanding the opportunities and needs of individual employees, in helping to develop better policies for workplace mental health.
- Awareness of sources of support and where people can find help.
- Informing staff that support is available
- Involving employees in decision-making,
- conveying a feeling of control and participation
- organizational practices that support a healthy work-life balance
- Creating programmes for career development of employees
- Recognizing and rewarding the contribution of employees.
In conclusion, mental health matter because it will only make sense as a perfect business sense for organizations to create a work culture that supports employees with good mental health. If your employees aren’t feeling well mentally, then they will not feel engaged or committed at work. The more we talk about mental health, the more stigmas get broken down, so don’t suffer in silence. Work’s important, but it’s not as important as your health and quality of life.