October 3, 2017
The World Health Organization established World Mental Health Day on Oct. 10 to raise awareness about mental health issues and inspire action to improve mental well-being around the world.
The theme of World Health Day this year is "Mental health in the workplace." Read on to learn more about job-related issues and what you can do to support better mental well-being for workers of all types:
Mental health in the workplace
Negative mental health is a widespread problem facing people all over the world. According to the WHO, more than 300 million people suffer from depression, and more than 260 million live with anxiety disorders - while many people experience both conditions. The WHO estimates that depression and anxiety also costs $1 trillion per year in lost productivity.
A negative working environment can cause mental health problems such as stress, depression, anxiety and alcohol use. The causes of mental health issues in the workplace can include, according to the WHO:
- Poor management and communication practices.
- Inflexible working hours, consistently high workload or lack of work-life balance.
- Bullying and psychological harassment.
- Limited ability by employees to control their work situations.
- Lack of support for employees and unclear direction for tasks.
When individuals spend so much of their waking lives at work, these and other negative risk factors can have major impact on their mental and physical well-being. Not only does this hurt the individual, but it can also affect their relationships with family and friends. In addition, employees with poor mental health can increase turnover at companies and contribute to major lost productivity.
Improving mental health at the workplace
There are many steps that can be taken to improve employees' mental health at the workplace. The WHO recommends creating healthy workplaces by implementing policies that protect, support and encourage positive mental well-being while reducing risk factors for negative mental health.
Employers should make staff aware that there are support resources available to them. They should discourage working until one is left feeling burnt out and instead encourage a healthy work-life balance. Employers can implement practices and programs for employees that share ways to mitigate stress and anxiety. They can also work to create an environment of transparency and better involve employees in decision-making. Recognition programs that regularly celebrate and reward employees' achievements can also be effective at creating a healthier mental environment at work.
On a personal level, every employee - regardless of rank - should feel empowered to ask for support when they need it and to operate in a way that is conscious of creating positive experiences and relationships for co-workers. In this way, better working environments can be created around the world.
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