The working environment during COVID-19 in 2020 and into 2021 continues to change and for many, an increase in anxiety.
Our UK team has been working remotely since early March 2020, with a two week window last September, where the team enjoyed a welcome return to the office.
We regularly talk about positivity and communication during our weekly video meetings; and recently members of the team enjoyed a seminar which has prompted one of our new members of the team, Rae Legg, to open up about her thoughts on mental health.
Mental health in the workplace – what will really help?
Awareness and understanding of mental health have increased exponentially over the past few decades, with World Mental Health Day being celebrated every year on the 10th of October since 1992. Despite the growing awareness, clearly there is still a stigma towards mental health in the workplace.
According to a survey conducted on 1,000 people by Aetna International in June 2020, up to a third of employees claim physical illness to take a day off work when in reality, it is stress and mental suffering that is the cause. Yet they feel compelled to conceal the true nature of their illness.
Some may view being open and honest about their mental health as a barrier preventing them from entering the workplace with people being advised by well-meaning family members not to disclose their mental illnesses to potential new employers.
As someone who has suffered with depression and anxiety for several years, I will freely admit to all of the above.
This begs the following question: What steps can be taken to reduce the stigma towards mental health in the workplace?
Speak openly about mental health:
Often, people with social anxiety disorders (or people who are naturally more introverted) will feel reluctant to talk about themselves and their problems and simply encouraging them to speak out will not suffice.
Speaking candidly and openly about mental health will create a safe environment for people with mental illnesses and will make them feel secure enough to come forward and share their experiences.
This can be done by sharing and discussing articles or TV programmes that deal with mental health, supporting mental health charities, or even discussing past experiences.
Promote a healthy work/life balance:
I was told recently that people should invest more in their hobbies and interests and engage in more physical activity in order to maintain a healthy mental wellbeing.
This is sound advice, but let’s look at the reality where people skip lunch breaks and work overtime, where people have long commutes to work, where people go home to their families and resume the full time role of parenting.
The simple fact is that if you don’t have more time at home, you won’t have time to engage in the things you enjoy.
This can be changed by encouraging people to take mental health days and to take regular holidays in order to build a fulfilling life outside of work.
Provide access to mental health facilities:
Individuals suffering with mental illnesses often talk about feeling lost and not knowing where to turn.
Other people without a history of mental illness may begin to suffer from stress due to smaller difficulties, such as moving to a new house or dealing with divorce proceedings but will downplay their issues.
By providing access to mental health screening tools and counsellors, this will encourage those suffering to take the first step and seek the help they need; whether that be a safe place to discuss their depression, or someone to vent to about the stresses of everyday life.
The above steps are just the beginning to designing a mentally healthy workspace for employees and with time and work, the discussion of mental health will no longer feel like a taboo subject.
Analyst | firstname.lastname@example.org
+44 (0) 20 3963 1930
+971 (0) 4 424 9988
Previous editions of TenInsight can be found here: