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Blog>Guides>Guide to Mental Health and How It Affects Employees in the Workplace

Guide to Mental Health and How It Affects Employees in the Workplace

Article index


  • What is the meaning of mental health?

  • Why should employers regularly discuss mental health issues in the workplace?

  • How do mental health issues impact my job?

  • Work-related factors that can trigger mental health

  • How to promote mental health and drive initiatives in the work environment


The work environment has changed dramatically in recent years, allowing for innovative ideas and opportunities for professional development to flourish. These changes are driven primarily by new technologies that facilitate digitization and a pandemic that revolutionized our approach to work.

The result is a hyper-competitive work environment where workers are under tremendous pressure to perform efficiently. When combined with demanding bosses and an excessive workload, work pressures can cause acute feelings of stress. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), factors like a low salary and a lack of involvement in decision-making can also contribute to this anxiety.

Stress can be detrimental to an individual’s mental health when not properly managed. New research shows that roughly 39% of American workers suffer mental health issues.

Poor mental health can jeopardize a company’s operational capabilities and productivity, lowering the bottom line. Perhaps this is why business leaders are now paying a great deal of attention to the mental health of their workers.

What is mental health, and how can it be managed in the workplace? Our guide provides valuable insight into what a flourishing mindset looks like in the workplace, and why it is essential. Additionally, you’ll learn to promote a positive attitude that fuels good mental health among employees.

What Is Mental Health?

Mental health encompasses the core aspect of our general well-being, including physical, emotional, psychological, and social well-being. In effect, it influences our actions, thoughts, and feelings. In addition, it affects how we socialize with people and handle conflict situations.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mental health is, “A state of well-being in which a person can fulfill their abilities and cope with the normal stresses of life, work productively, and contribute to their community.”

It is no secret that anxiety, stress, and depression are part of being human. However, job insecurity, increased financial concerns, trauma, discrimination, stigma, a toxic work environment, and many more conditions can raise an individual’s stress levels and cause mental health issues. This can manifest in the workplace through a lack of interest, low energy, limited motivation, difficulty focusing, and a lack of effort.

The Importance of Discussing Mental Health

One efficient approach to de-stigmatizing mental health in the workplace is maintaining a company culture that advocates for an open dialogue on these issues. Doing so allows for constructive internal conversations that separates the company identity from simply a mechanical corporate perspective.

Firms that discuss and advocate for good mental health care at the workplace foster a company culture that promotes and enhances employee well-being. This action often benefits the company in the form of employee loyalty and retention. Employees who are given an avenue to open up about their overall challenges feel valued, happy, highly motivated, and perform optimally. Productivity and profitability peak, and everybody is happy.

In addition, employees can reveal information about specific work conditions that trigger mental health challenges during such discussions. Management can then make amendments or provide adequate support.

Discussing mental health at the workplace is an efficient approach rooted in WHO integrated health and well-being strategies encompassing prevention, detection, support, and rehabilitation.

Work-Related Factors That Can Harm Mental Health

Various factors in the workplace can serve as triggers for mental health problems. Let’s discuss some of these factors so you can better identify if they are happening in your workplace.

Inadequate Health and Safety Policies

Employers are responsible for guaranteeing adequate work environment safety to protect the employee’s mental health and well-being. Some issues resulting from an unsafe work environment that can harm employees’ mental health include:

  • Exposure to hazardous materials

  • Fire accidents

  • Injuries resulting from faulty equipment or machinery

  • Unmitigated infections and diseases due to poor sanitary conditions

A good approach toward implementing effective mental health policies may involve:

  • Consulting with employees on day-to-day safety measures

  • Providing adequate health and safety training

  • Showing commitment to safe working conditions

Employers can lose staff, suffer reduced profit, and even face prosecution if they fail to adopt these policies.

Poor Communication and Management Practices

Efficient communication is vital in all aspects of life, especially in the work environment. Misunderstandings may arise when a business lacks constructive interactions.

Poor communication may involve a lack of feedback, direction, or positive reinforcement from management. This can be frustrating for the employee, creating confusion and distrust. Employees can become significantly stressed under these conditions, leading to mental health concerns.

Low Levels of Support for Employees

Low support can manifest in various ways, including inadequate practical or emotional support from management and co-workers, lack of requisite information or training to support employee’s work performance, and a lack of tools, equipment, and resources to execute tasks or projects.

Any of these examples can lower morale and demotivate workers. The situation worsens when management consistently engages with the workers negatively. The workplace will become overly dysfunctional and toxic, raising employees’ stress levels and harming mental health.

Performance Pressure

Workers in most fast-paced work environments feel extraordinary pressure to perform optimally. Excessive job performance pressure is a precursor to poor mental health among employees. Stress is unavoidable when a workplace is led by a management team that is very controlling, unappreciative, or sets unrealistic goals. Subsequently, workers can face serious mental health challenges.

Job Insecurity

Job insecurity arises from a feeling of self-doubt. This is often the case in a fast-paced and highly competitive work environment where team members tend to project a false sense of perfection. Most employees in this situation will develop a crushing feeling of not measuring up to the task.

Therefore, they work extremely hard to conceal their insecurities, resulting in burnout. Over time, they become demotivated and accumulate negative emotions like sadness or anxiety. This can lead to serious mental health challenges that may affect their social relationships.

Another factor that fuels job insecurity is the fear of job loss resulting from major global events. This was the case during the COVID-19 pandemic.

How Can Mental Health Issues Affect My Job?

Your mental health significantly impacts your productivity regardless of the type or nature of the job. While good mental health enhances optimum performance, the consequences of poor mental health at work are numerous and varied. Let’s take a look at some of them.

Job Performance and Productivity

It’s important to maintain psychological and emotional calmness and stability to perform optimally at a given task. When you’re battling depression, stress, anxiety, or any precursors to deficient mental or behavioral health, commitment to a task, consistency, and concentration all take a back seat. The same goes for creativity and resilience.

Therefore, your ability to execute tasks efficiently and accurately becomes highly compromised, decreasing productivity. Decreased productivity lowers profitability. This is why firms or corporations need to be more committed to promoting good mental health in the workplace.

Engagement with One’s Work

Demotivation and disengagement are other consequences of a lack of concern or interest in this area of workers’ health. When you suffer from poor mental health, your mind will wander as it tries to process millions of negative emotions.

When controlling your thoughts becomes an everyday struggle that drains your energy, it can make you feel empty. You can become disengaged with activities that you used to be passionate about, especially your work. Many people fill the void by drinking, smoking, using drugs, or other substance use that offers temporary escapism from their thoughts.

Communication with Co-Workers

Communication with co-workers becomes an arduous task when you’re feeling emotionally drained. Inability to communicate effectively can lead to misinterpretation and overreaction to seemingly harmless contributions by colleagues or peers.

Physical Capability and Daily Functioning

Our psychological, emotional, and mental states significantly influence our physical health. Therefore, poor mental health directly impacts our daily lives, from social anxiety to memory loss. When your mind is preoccupied with negativity, it’s relatively easy to make mistakes in the workplace that can cause serious health injuries or business setbacks. Research also shows that people with poor mental health conditions are more susceptible to disease, leading to increased absenteeism.

Why Is Mental Health Important in the Workplace?

Gone are the days when business leaders paid lip service to the mental health and stressors of their workers. Firms hoping to hire top-performing employees in today’s fast-paced business world must prioritize mental health.

Some core reasons employers need to care about mental work in the workplace include:

  • Increased productivity. Organizations are only as strong as their employees. Employees are poised to perform to their best capabilities when business executives support and show commitment to their mental and overall well-being.

  • It makes sense from the business perspective. The twin goals of maintaining a mentally healthy workplace and boosting employee engagement are interdependent. Efficient mental health management bolsters effective employee management and benefits all: employers, employees, and the bottom line.

  • The cost of not caring can be huge. Businesses lose more productivity when workers become demotivated and unwilling to work due to mental illness. Over time, this can impact the global economy. WHO put the annual loss in productivity due to depression and anxiety disorders at a staggering $1 trillion.

  • It’s the right thing to do. Employers must ensure employee health, safety, and well-being subject to the health and safety law. Under this law, they’re to assess risks that may arise from workplace hazards, including risks related to mental health.

Good workplace mental health also benefits the employee.

Some examples include:

  • Accelerated personal and professional development. Workers with mental strength are more poised to accept work-related challenges. Promotions and career advancement become easier.

  • Healthy coping skills. Good mental health teaches employees to recognize, express, and control their emotions — including maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

  • Improved interactions. Healthy mental practices can teach empathy for others by promoting fundamental social skills.

  • Better stress management. Most vitally, employees learn resilience and better stress management approaches, enabling them to excel at their jobs and realize their full potential.

Strategies for Managing Mental Health and Stress in the Workplace

Creating positive mental health in the work environment necessitates proactive day-to-day action on the side of employers and employees. Both need to be committed to their approach for it to work.

As an Employer:

As an employer, an efficient approach may involve providing resources for both broader mental health challenges and for employees who may require clinical services. However, most employees need help building resilience and managing stress.

For example, the employer can adopt strategies like:

  • The Employee Assistance Program (EPA). An EPA is a free and readily accessible program that assists employees with personal and work-related issues affecting job performance. These range from relationship issues to wellness matters. Services can either be accessed remotely or face-to-face.

  • Encourage employees to unwind. This can be in a dedicated relaxation spot within the work environment where workers can enjoy some fun activities and decompress.

  • Employ certified life coaches. You can employ the services of a mental health coach to help employees navigate challenges and strengthen mental wellness.

  • Create awareness. Ensure employees are well-informed about mental health. During global mental health awareness day, you can hire experts to give lectures and support ongoing awareness.

  • Make self-assessment tools readily available to all employees. Tools like mental health meter quizzes and mood assessment checklists can help predict if an individual needs further resources.

As an Employee:

As an employee, some strategies you can adopt are:

  • Leveraging EPA. Take advantage of any resources available to obtain the necessary support.

  • Willingness to share your mental health experience with co-workers. You don’t have to share details; just your basic personal experience can help others feel more included.

  • Practicing healthy coping skills. Deep breathing, positive self-talk, and healthy communication can make for a positive mindset, improved self-image, and stronger relationships.

  • Practicing self-care during a lunch break. This can be meditation, yoga, or a short nature walk.

  • Looking after your physical health. Take care of yourself through things like exercise, a balanced diet, and adequate sleep. In addition, learn to nurture good professional relationships.

Redefining Mental Health in the Workplace

To redefine mental health in the workplace, employers need to provide an enabling environment that allows discussion of the topic without stigma. Employees are more willing to open up about their mental health challenges in a workplace devoid of stigma. When employees open up about their mental health struggles, employers can better understand their full range of experiences with this issue. Since positive health care in the workplace — both mentally and physically — ibenefits the company immensely, employers can learn to be more proactive.

For instance, they can focus on core solutions that positively impact the employees from personal and professional perspectives. With the proper support, attitude, and commitment, firms can provide employees with the best mental health program. On the other hand, employees need to be willing to take advantage of any mental health program made available by their employers or suggest alternative ways to receive help.

Prioritize Your Mental Health

Every person needs a work environment where leadership is effective, good communication thrives, personal contributions are valued, and overall well-being is prioritized. However, finding such a company can be difficult for a vast majority of workers. That’s where Joblist comes in!

Our service generates jobs based on your chosen criteria (like low stress and good company culture). We believe that your job search should be flexible, unique, and hassle-free. All you need to do is take our quiz and leave the rest to us.

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