Mental Health (Or a Lack Thereof) in the Workplace
Welcome to the official blog of Threads Podcast: Life Unfiltered. If it’s you’re first time here: Welcome! Get caught up by subscribing to the show wherever you get podcasts (or listen here), read some of the other blog posts, and join in the conversation on social media!
When you listen to Threads Podcast: Life Unfiltered, you’re getting two distinct perspectives. Generation X and Millennial. (Hosts Jason and Ben, respectively.) The reason I point this out is because of mental health–particularly in the workplace.
The chart, from the American Psychological Association, indicates that younger generations report getting more stressed out by specific things than older generations. Likewise, younger generations are less likely to report positively about their mental health than older generations.
Let’s Speculate Wildly
There could be lots of reasons for this:
- the more connected we become to the world via our personal devices…
- it’s the participation award generation…
- older generations just lie about their mental health, stuff it waaay down, then die of anxiety-related heart disease…
Honestly, to some extent, it might be all of these things. I’ll leave that to the guys to debate the whys and hows on the show. The fact is, the workplace is going to have to deal with mental health issues more and more as time goes on. But are they ready?
The Stats Are Kind of a Bummer…
- “70% of those currently employed are searching for other jobs” (Mental Health America)
- “82% of employees with mental health issues indicate it impacts their work, while only 53% of those with physical health issues say it impacts their work” (Workplace Strategies for Mental Health)
- “the estimated cost [of depression and anxiety] to the global economy is US$ 1 trillion per year in lost productivity” (World Health Organization)
- “Approximately 80% of persons with depression report some level of functional impairment because of their depression” (The National Center for Biotechnology Information)
What Are Businesses Doing about It?
Unfortunately, not enough. The guys posted a link to this Wall Street Journal article. In short, students are leaving schools that give them tons of counseling and accommodations, then enter a world with very little support. Blame it on schools, businesses, parents, lawmakers…either way, it’s a problem and it’s real. But it’s not all bad.
An article in the Harvard Business Review pointed out how some companies are dealing. A few companies reach out to students preparing to enter the workforce to help them realistically prepare for the big life change, set up mental health and coping strategies training in for new employees, and a some places even allow flexible scheduling to allow for a better life-work balance. Here’s the part the guys will like: A few businesses are encouraging senior leaders to be “willing to show vulnerability.”
Not a business owner? Then maybe you’re asking…
What Can Employees Do to Promote Mental Health in the Workplace?
A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) article has ideas for employees looking to improve workplace mental health:
- Encourage employers to offer mental health and stress management education and programs that meet their needs and interests, if they are not already in place.
- Participate in employer-sponsored programs and activities to learn skills and get the support they need to improve their mental health.
- Serve as dedicated wellness champions and participate in trainings on topics such as financial planning and how to manage unacceptable behaviors and attitudes in the workplace as a way to help others, when appropriate.
- Share personal experiences with others to help reduce stigma, when appropriate.
- Be open-minded about the experiences and feelings of colleagues. Respond with empathy, offer peer support, and encourage others to seek help.
- Adopt behaviors that promote stress management and mental health.
- Eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, and get 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night.
- Take part in activities that promote stress management and relaxation, such as yoga, meditation, mindfulness, or tai chi.
- Build and nurture real-life, face-to-face social connections.
- Take the time to reflect on positive experiences and express happiness and gratitude.
- Set and work toward personal, wellness, and work-related goals and ask for help when it is needed.
It’s OK. We all have stuff going on. Ignoring it will NOT make it go away.
On that note…
Check out a fantastic sponsor of the show, BetterHelp.com. (Click the link and you’re on your way to 10% off the first month!)
Good luck out there, Threadies!
Christopher Tallon is a writer, guitar tinkerer, and recovering middle school English teacher. He lives in west Michigan, and sometimes writes in the third person. You can find him on FaceBook, Instagram, or his Website.