We live in a culture that is blind to stress and intolerant to emotional pain, where one’s predicaments are dismissed as victim hood. In most societies, there persists an attitude of dismissal of mental illness and the symptoms of psychopathology are perceived as threatening and uncomfortable even in today’s politically woke landscape. This pattern of behaviour discourages many people suffering from mental illnesses from seeking help and treatment. Although symptoms of common mental health problems — such as depression, bipolar disorder, and anxiety — are well defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders but they often go unrecognised as symptoms tend to manifest differently at work than they do at home or in other settings. In this age of globalisation, workers are exposed to high pressure situations on a daily basis and confronted with an array of new organizational structures and developments like contingent employment, increased workload etc. This makes them vulnerable to stress and anxiety. When this happens, stress not only creates incapacitating negative feelings, but it also results in lower productivity, absenteeism and strained relationships with colleagues.
Factors affecting mental health in the workplace
According to the World Health Organisation, the following can have a detrimental affect on an employee’s mental health:
- Inflexible work schedules,
- Lack of support from administration,
- Absence of clarity about work tasks or organizational objectives,
- Poor managerial communication
- Surveillance or isolated working conditions
- inadequate child-care arrangements, lack of health insurance and job insecurity
- sexual harassment and discrimination
Sexual harassment and discrimination are often overlooked when preparing lists of traditional job stressors, it is imperative to include this factor in any comprehensive examination of the causes of workplace stress. Sexual harassment and discrimination are major stressors for women and marginalised ethnic minorities. Some of the many effects of stress include numerous physical ailments as well as mental health problems such as depression, anxiety disorders and OCD.
What can employees do?
To maintain proper mental health at work you should-
- Manage your overtime hours- Paid overtime work can be a good way of earning extra money but overworking yourself because of deadlines can have adverse effects on mental health. Try to limit the amount of overtime you do. If your workload is forcing you to be working extra hours, reach out to your manager for re-assignment of duties according to your capabilities.
- Take regular breaks- Getting some fresh air and leaving your workplace, or simply moving from your work area can help make you more productive at work. Use your breaks to refocus and avoid anxiety triggering food items like those containing caffeine or high in sugar.
- not take office work home- Taking your office work home can strain your relationship with your family and induce you to become more isolated and self- absorbed. By ensuring our work doesn’t come home with us, we foster a culture healthy work-life balance. If you must take work home, agree on a set time to do it – the earlier the better.
- Take regular holiday leaves – Take days off when feeling unwell or if you need some time away to decompress. Holidays can help to reduce work-related stress, prevent anxiety and depression, and increase work performance and productivity.
- Set realistic deadlines and deliver on them – Managing your schedule so you deliver work on time will not only contribute to improved productivity, it will also help you complete your tasks to a high standard and help avoid undue pressure.
- Maintain healthy boundaries- In an attempt to maintain our reputation in the workplace, we might adopt a “people- pleasing” attitude. Don’t be afraid to say no if you are not in a mental space to socialise with your colleagues.
- Have a technology switch-off – Sitting in front of computer screen for long hours can affect your concentration levels and put you at higher risk of anxiety and panic disorders. Take regular break from computers and social media to de-compress from negative emotions.
What can employers do?
- Regular Mental Health Assessment- Offer free or subsidized clinical screenings for depression from a qualified psychologist, followed by appropriate medical referrals and medicines.
- Comprehensive Health insurance- Offer health insurance with no or low out-of-pocket costs for depression medications and mental health counselling and take the initiative to provide free or subsidized lifestyle coaching, counselling, or self-management programs.
- Spread Awareness- Distribute materials, such as brochures, fliers, and videos, to all employees about the signs and symptoms of poor mental health and opportunities for treatment.
- Host seminars or workshops- Hold conferences that address depression and stress management techniques, like mindfulness, breathing exercises, and meditation, to help employees reduce anxiety and stress and improve focus and motivation.
- Provide friendly ambiance- Create and maintain dedicated, quiet spaces for relaxation activities and meditation activities.
- Strengthen the HR department- Make managers take training to help them recognize the signs and symptoms of stress and depression in employees and make sure no case of behavioural misconduct and harassment goes unreported
- Provide flexible working conditions- to promote a culture of mutual understanding between the employers and employees, the following should be provided:
- Flexible location – an option of working from home or somewhere more convenient
- Flexible patterns – working longer days to a particular period of time to provide for a shorter working week later on
- Flexible rostering – split shifts
- Job sharing
- Graduated return to work – where an employee yields to work part-time and gradually builds up to full-time by a decided date (after parental/maternal leave or extended sick leave)
Written by Shatakshi
Parth Agarwal · 27 January 2021 at 5:40 pm
This article is so informative and true.
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