About 18% of adults reported mental illness in 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC reports that depression interferes with a person’s ability to complete job tasks about 20 percent of the time, and reduces cognitive performance about 35% of the time.
Mental wellness is necessary to maintain productivity and employee retention.
By intervening to control mental health both personally and in the workplace, employers can reduce healthcare costs for their company and employees.
But it’s not just up to management.
Employees benefit by paying attention to their mental wellness and personal fitness: They enjoy their jobs more, are more productive, and discover they have better chances of advancement.
Here are three things everyone should do to help ensure mental wellness in the workplace.
Engage Your Colleagues
Workplace wellness programs can identify those at risk and connect them to treatment. Yet if programs don’t exist or aren’t visible at your company, they can’t do much good.
Employees can urge their employers to offer and promote mental wellness and stress management programs that meet their needs.
Be receptive to the feelings and experiences of colleagues who may also be struggling. Share personal experiences to reduce the stigma of mental illness in the workplace. Be an advocate, whether you are a supervisor or an employee.
Take Personal Responsibility
Adopt personal behaviors and take actions to reduce stress and ensure your mental wellness is being addressed. These may include:
- Eating healthy, well-balanced meals, exercising, and making sure you are getting 7-8 hours of sleep a night are great ways to optimize mental wellness both during and after your workday ends.
- Participating in activities that promote stress management and relaxation such as yoga, meditation, or tai chi.
- Focusing on being mindful through each step of your day, from when you wake up, go to work, eat, wind down, and go to bed.
- Keeping engaged with your family and friends for an ideal work-life balance.
- Taking time to reflect on positive experiences, and expressing happiness and gratitude to your employer and yourself.
- Setting and working toward achieving mental wellness goals regarding your work. Your job performance and satisfaction are almost guaranteed to improve.
If problems with mental wellness in your workplace are severe, approach human resources for resources to improve your mental wellness.
Check if there are options such as increased flexibility for deadlines and hours, or allowances for reasonable accommodations if you have a mental disability recognized by the U.S. Department of Labor and the Americans With Disabilities Act.
You may be surprised at how open your employer is to granting accommodations for those who need it.
Seek Professional Help if You Are Still Struggling
If nothing else is working, seek professional help such as mental wellness therapy with a counselor. If you don’t have mental health insurance, find out what sliding-scale mental health offices may offer by calling around to your insurance company or mental health assistance case managers.
Sometimes it takes professional help to discover your latent or overt emotional issues. Professionals may help you make a treatment plan to help you overcome your social isolation issues.
Attend support groups for work-related stress as well. Look to your local libraries and churches for other resources that may be available if you are still struggling with mental wellness issues related to your work.
If you need help with alcohol or drug addiction, seek professional help.
Mental wellness in the workplace is an important issue that affects not only the individual but also co-workers and employers. Be sure to stay engaged with your supervisors or employees. Take personal responsibility for your mental health, and if necessary seek professional help.
About the Author:
Brad Wayland is the Chief Strategy Officer at BlueCotton, a site with high-quality, easy-to-design custom t-shirts.