9 Overlooked Aspects of Mental Health Issues in the Workplace that Need More Attention
To shed light on the often overlooked aspects of mental health issues in the workplace, we’ve gathered insights from nine professionals, including clinical directors and CEOs. From understanding the silent drip of burnout caused by microstressors to recognizing the employer’s responsibility for employee mental well-being, these experts share their unique perspectives on what needs more attention.
- Understanding Microstressors as the Silent Drop of Burnout
- Seeing the Interconnectedness of Work and Personal Life
- Addressing the Impact of Emotional Residue
- Finding the Invisible Stress of Job Insecurity and Change
- Knowing the Role of Corporate Culture in Mental Health
- Overlooking Burnout as a Workplace Epidemic
- Combining Empowerment and Purpose in the Workplace
- Going Beyond Time Off, a Need for Fundamental Changes
- Recognizing the Employers’ Responsibility for Mental Well-being
Understanding Microstressors as the Silent Drop of Burnout
One often-overlooked aspect of mental health in the workplace is the cumulative impact of “microstressors.” These are subtle, daily irritants, such as constant minor interruptions, ambiguous communication, or blurred boundaries between work and personal life.
Individually, they might seem insignificant, but their combined effect can lead to feelings of burnout, anxiety, and decreased motivation. While major traumatic events are typically recognized as potential mental health triggers, the persistent drip of these smaller stressors can be just as damaging.
Employers must be cognizant of these challenges. Addressing them might involve clearer communication guidelines, improved workspace designs, or regular feedback sessions. Recognizing and mitigating the impact of microstressors is crucial for maintaining a mentally healthy workforce.
Seeing the Interconnectedness of Work and Personal Life
One overlooked aspect of mental health issues in the workplace is that it is not possible to completely separate your work life from your personal life. Employers might think that health issues, including mental health issues, are personal and should not be discussed in the workplace.
However, mental health symptoms can affect an employee at work just as much as in their personal life. The additional mental stress of trying to hide a mental health issue at work can reduce productivity and exacerbate symptoms.
Therefore, employers need to be open to hearing about mental health struggles an employee may have and ready to provide reasonable accommodations and support.
Addressing the Impact of Emotional Residue
One aspect that’s often overlooked in the workplace is the “emotional residue” employees carry from one task or interaction to another. Think of it like this: If someone has a heated discussion during a morning meeting, those emotions can linger and influence their productivity and interactions for the rest of the day.
As someone who manages a team, I’ve observed how this residue can accumulate, become repressed, and negatively affect the overall work atmosphere and environment. To address this issue, I often encourage them to practice an “emotional reset,” such as a short mindfulness breathing break between tasks. This helps improve their mood and well-being, as well as creating a more harmonious workspace.
Finding the Invisible Stress of Job Insecurity and Change
One area often glossed over when discussing mental health in the workplace is the “invisible” stress related to job insecurity and constant change. Sure, workloads and work-life balance get a lot of attention, and rightly so. But the stress of not knowing if your job will exist next month, or the anxiety of adapting to yet another “new normal,” these are rarely addressed in mental health conversations or programs.
Such uncertainty can lead to a constant state of low-level panic that’s hard to shake and can seriously affect mental well-being. Employers need to recognize this and strive for transparent communication about changes in the company’s status or structure, offering resources to help staff manage that specific kind of stress. It’s not just about mindfulness apps and yoga Fridays; sometimes it’s about good old-fashioned job security, or at least, better communication about it.
Knowing the Role of Corporate Culture in Mental Health
The substantial influence of corporate culture is one aspect of mental health difficulties in the workplace that is frequently overlooked. Since it has a significant impact on employees’ well-being, this aspect merits additional consideration.
Although it frequently goes unmentioned in discussions and treatments, a toxic or unsupportive work environment can exacerbate mental health issues. Companies must understand that creating a welcoming and positive workplace environment is crucial for encouraging mental well-being, lowering stress levels, and enhancing overall employee wellness. Addressing this issue may result in a more productive and mentally healthier workforce.
Overlooking Burnout as a Workplace Epidemic
One aspect of mental health at work that needs more attention is “burnout.” It’s a real thing for anyone, no matter how well they do their job. The heavy workload and high expectations can lead to burnout, which is feeling extremely tired and stressed out.
It’s important to understand that burnout isn’t a sign of weakness; rather, it’s a response to overwhelming work pressure.
To tackle this, offering ways to manage stress, setting realistic expectations, fostering a balance between work and personal life, and creating a culture where it’s okay to talk about mental struggles can make a big difference.
By addressing burnout comprehensively, firms can nurture a sustainable work culture that values both productivity and the well-being of their employees.
Combining Empowerment and Purpose in the Workplace
We have reduced workers to standardized, productivity robots with no drive or purpose. But humans have an inherent desire for purpose in their lives (Mind-Body Problem Solved). Workers crave passion and progress via accomplishments in their careers and personal lives. The goal is to transform a job into a passion; start with one small step.
“For the kingdom of heaven is as a man traveling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered to them his goods. Then they went and traded with the same” (Matthew 25:14-16). The Master provided the tools; servants needed purpose to fructify the goods. Empowerment and purpose are two sides of the same coin.
The key question is, what’s the first thing you’d ask your boss to empower you with purpose in your position? The employee must feel their purpose contributing to company growth. “The purpose of work is to give people a chance to utilize and develop their faculties to bring forth the goods needed for a becoming existence” (E. F. Schumacher).
Sam Kneller, Owner, The Explanation
Going Beyond Time Off, a Need for Fundamental Changes
Time off doesn’t always fix and heal work-related mental health issues, which is often misunderstood by some employees and employers. If you’re stressed and burnt out from work, some time off will help you feel better for the moment, but there’s a good chance that those feelings will pop up again when you inevitably have to return to work.
You must make changes to your routine, the way you work, the work you are doing, and how you approach things like work-life balance in order to make a real change. Without real, fundamental change, there’s a good chance that the same issues will continue to pop up consistently, even after a break or vacation.
Recognizing the Employers’ Responsibility for Mental Well-being
One often-overlooked aspect of mental health issues in the workplace is the widespread absence of a sense of responsibility among employers for their employees’ mental well-being.
Although many employers openly promote the need for work-life balance, the reality can be quite different. Many employees often complain that they’re made responsible for enforcing their own “work-life balance,” despite workplace difficulties. This is in part due to poor management training, lack of adequate HR policies, and the fact that mental health issues aren’t readily visible. Finally, an employer’s lack of genuine support in the workplace can worsen employee morale.
To help foster better employer-employee trust, employers should ensure that managers are trained to better support employees in need. By addressing this aspect of mental health, workplaces can create a safe environment where employees feel empowered to share their concerns and manage their tasks without compromising their well-being.
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