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By Expedi USA, January 28, 2022
How To Talk About Mental Health At Work

Working is a form of mental exercise. We are at work or commuting for such a massive part of our lives. Employers admire people for their productivity, efficacy, and consistency and value such qualities immensely. It doesn't matter how much you love what you do; there comes a phase in your professional career where you feel low on a mental and emotional level, although momentarily.

It would help if you had someone to talk to, but the stigma associated with it is so strong that you choose to suffer in silence rather than speak to someone about it. According to a World Health Organisation, over 264 million people worldwide suffer from depression, many of them also suffering from anxiety symptoms.

Mental health and the employer

Mental health disorders vary from bullying to harassment, unrelenting workload, and even peer pressure. It impacts an individual adversely, rendering him less productive, unusually introverted, and irregular to work. It may also lead to substance abuse and absenteeism. Almost half of the long-term absence is contingent on it.

The prevalence of mental illness among employees also does not bode well for companies. Depression and anxiety disorders have cost over $1 trillion. Protecting, promoting, and addressing mental health is the way forward for employees and employers to make offices a place where people want to keep coming back day after day. Let's talk about the ways of doing this.

Be your advocate!

When it comes to speaking up for your mental health, you must advocate for yourself, and that's where the legalities come into the picture. Americans with Disabilities Act, a company employing more than or equal to 15 employees must provide reasonable accommodations if you ask. The Act confers two primary rights: the right to privacy about their disability and reasonable job accommodation. It includes:-

  • A quieter workplace.
  • A more flexible schedule around health-related appointments.
  • Frequent reminders of due dates.
  • More frequent short breaks.

Plus, companies offer mental health services, such as an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), where you can receive a limited number of free mental health counseling sessions. An employer must provide for such facilities unless it causes an undue hardship. However, it is essential to understand that ongoing mental health conditions—depression, anxiety, or anything else—can not be resolved quickly by taking the odd day off. It takes ongoing support through the ups and downs.

Encourage openness

The crooked perception of mental health-related disorders often keeps victims from seeking help. They choose to put on a stoic façade when they are devastated emotionally. They feel like their problems would be an unsolicited cry in the public sphere and should instead deal with it privately. People even keep shut because they don't want to be perceived as emotionally unstable, which they believe could jeopardize their jobs. Therefore, it is a crucial responsibility for employers to create an environment where workers can freely speak up about their issues. Creating a positive environment will boost their morale and increase their productivity. World Economic Forum recommended some steps organizations can take to create a healthy workplace, including:

  • Companies should analyze the workplace environment and modify it to promote mental health for different employees.
  • They should learn from the anecdotes and testimonials of organizational leaders and employees who have handled it well.
  • They should refrain from reinventing wheels and know what other organizations have done to cope with it.
  • Organizations must comprehend the opportunities and requirements of employees individually in helping to develop better policies for workplace mental health.
  • Organizations should make employees aware of sources to seek support and find help.

Seize the opportunity and speak up

If you are someone suffering from mental health or you are a compassionate colleague or an empathetic employer about your workers' mental health. Try utilizing office meetings or casual hangouts as an opportunity to address the elephant in the room. Share your recent experiences with mental health. Explain the role of stress in modern-day lives and ways of overcoming it. It will motivate them to feel more comfortable talking about their mental health.

A boss could ask his employees, "Is there something you would want to share with me today? How's your mental health? Are you coping well with the workload?" and then lend an attentive ear to the replies. Many employees have hated the idea of sharing mental health-related issues for fear of being judged – or in the worst case, fired – if they speak up about their mental health. Take the bold first step and talk about it yourself!

If you find them hesitant, consider creating a space where people can talk about mental health resources and experiences online. You can create a telegram chat group where the workers are encouraged to be vocal about their experiences, how they tackled them, and support their colleagues.

Concluding lines

As many you will start to return to offices, there is hope that old ways of dealing with mental health will change. Companies and managers should make things easier for employees to disclose their mental health challenges and work to fix the faults. And to all the employees out there, if your boss isn't aware of what's happening with you, how will he give you the support or provisions you need?

It all boils down to knowing that your boss wants you to perform up to his expectations at work, whatever industry you're in, whatever skill or trade you have. Why is talking about mental health awkward but talking about being sick with a cold is not? You should not feel bad talking about it. While it is way easier said than done, you really shouldn't be ashamed of mental health issues or talk about them. Let these issues not prevent you from being happy and healthy in your career.

Why ExpediUSA?

ExpediUSA is a leading job portal with a resourceful blog section where you can find tips and recommendations on career-related topics. Other relevant issues such as mental health among professionals and how these issues can be tackled are also discussed in these blogs. Whether it's an interview, panel discussion, or group discussion, you will find informative and insightful blogs on ExpediUSA. Don't forget to check them out.

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