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Promoting Mental Health Awareness at Work

April 10th, 2020

How do we define “mental health” in a workplace setting, and how can we—as managers, business owners and coworkers—protect our own mental health and that of others around us?

First, workplace mental health means finding a balance between positive stress (engagement and focus) and negative stress, which can be damaging. It also means finding a balance between energy dedicated to work, and energy dedicated to life outside of work. It means finding ways to deal with workplace pressures without resorting to unhealthy coping strategies like drugs, alcohol, or harmful behaviors. And it means developing mentally healthy ways to interact with others and allay the harm caused by bullying, isolation, and other interpersonal stressors.

Like physical health, mental health is often something we can manage, maintain, and balance on our own. But sometimes…it isn’t. When pressures get too high and our current coping strategies just aren’t working, mental health becomes an issue we can’t (and can’t be expected) to resolve on our own. When it’s time to reach out for help, the help should be available and accessible and nobody who needs it should hold back due to fear of stigma or retaliation from bosses and coworkers.

Spread the Word about Mental Health in the Workplace

Raising awareness means making sure that everyone (including ourselves!) can feel free to take advantage of the services and support that are available to us. Others should know that support and care are a visit to HR, a health care appointment, or a phone call away. And if the culture of your workplace offers no flexibility or practical support for those who need help, it means changing the culture.

Do you know where to turn if your mental health burden becomes too strong for you to handle alone? If you don’t, find out now. This information will help you if you ever need it, and in the meantime, if you know what to do and where to turn, you can pass that information to a coworker if they ever find themselves facing the same question. If your company’s health plan doesn’t offer mental health resources, how can you apply pressure for change? If your boss is inflexible and uninformed about mental health issues, how they are educated or pointed in the right direction? If your coworker in need fears reaching out due to stigma, how can you support and encourage him or her?

Mental health—just like physical health—is a community responsibility. We need to take care of each other while we learn to care of ourselves. For more information on this timely topic, contact the workplace experts at Merritt.

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