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Mind at work: Mental Health in the workplace

What is mental health?

For most of us, work takes up the majority of our time. In order for a business to run efficiently and productively, these environments are required to meet certain criteria. In this blog, I chose to write about mental health in the workplace.

One of the main reasons for that remains the fact that in today’s fast paced and ever-evolving world, employers should pay more attention to mental health to better understand the challenges their employees may be facing. When an employee is productive and can meet the scheduled requirements, it stimulates the company’s growth, which in turn stimulates the economy and financial standing of the company. It is a two-way street – where each benefits from the other and hence both the employee and the employer need to be on the same page when it comes to addressing this issue.

There is another way of looking at it. Unemployment is a well-recognized risk factor for mental health issues, comparatively, securing work is deemed as protective. However, this is not always the case. A negative work environment can lead to adverse psychological problems, which might have a deep impact on the productivity of an employee and hence affect the growth and success rate of an organization.

So, what is mental health? As defined by WHO, mental health is ‘the ability of every person to recognize and develop his or her potential, cope with the stresses of everyday life, work productively and successfully, and make a positive contribution to the community’.

At some point in their lives, one in four people will suffer from mental health issues, which have a significant impact on their well-being. Illness here can lead to serious problems like anxiety and depression (the most common conditions) to severe sicknesses like bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.

Many mental health risks exist within the workplace. Most of those associated risks include inadequate health and safety policies, poor communication and management practices, limited participation in decision-making or low control over one’s area of work, no support for employees, inflexible working hours, and unclear tasks or organizational objectives.

Symptoms of the mental health issue can be portrayed differently by individuals, therefore, the presence of effective, professional support in the workplace is crucial.

There is a correlation between a positive office environment and economic gain. This is as often individuals suffering may require support tailored specially to their needs.

Importance of mental health awareness

A vital part of well-being is mental health. In addition to determining how you feel, think, and function, your psychological wellness also affects how you behave with others. It is, therefore, crucial to stay healthy by using appropriate measures to ensure psychological wellness.

A person who is emotionally fit and stable feels energetic and fully alive all of the time, and can easily manage tough situations. Physical fitness is required to be emotionally powerful. Although mental health is a personal issue, what affects one person may or may not influence others; yet, mental health difficulties are caused by a number of fundamental factors.

Despair, anger, negative thinking, impatience, and fear affect our fitness level. Mental well-being refers to being able to acknowledge and understand one’s own feelings, thoughts, and actions, thus improving the ability to appreciate life to its fullest.

Implementing and enforcing policies and procedures, including the identification and management of mental health problems, are among the interventions and best practices that can protect and promote mental well-being at work.

Letting employees know that support is always available, including them in decision-making, conveying a sense of control and participation, and implementing management practices that support a healthy work-life balance – these can all be used as tools to create a work environment that is uplifting, supportive, and empowering. Adding career development programs for the staff and rewarding employees for their contributions can do what is needed to build constructive bridges of dialogue and communication. This allows one to develop an ability to make decisions for themselves. It’s a proactive and optimistic phrase that dispels any negative thoughts.

COVID-19 seriously impacted the mental health of people around the world. It is due to the psychological and emotional stress that the pandemic resulted in that more companies are now investing in mental health resources at work.

All other organs in the body are regulated by the mind. If your mind becomes unstable, all of the organs in the body malfunction. To achieve success in all aspects of life, one must be both physically and emotionally fit. Keeping the mind healthy should be as important as keeping the physical body healthy.

Both mental and physical health are interconnected. A person can only be regarded as healthy if both are balanced. As a result, it is critical for everyone to strike a balance between mental and physical well-being and to get the help they need when they lack strength and courage. The responsibility at the workplace in this context, rests with the employees.

5 skills to manage the ever-changing PR Industry

The way we disseminate and organize information changes as often as the PR industry. This can be stressful to post-graduates who have not been introduced to working in a stressful environment; however, the stress can be mitigated drastically by making 5 changes to your daily habits at work and at home:

A) Wake up on the right side of the bed

Starting your day off right can make a huge difference in your mood throughout the day. A healthy and hearty breakfast and restful sleep can go a long way to ensure that you are mentally prepared for work and do not react negatively to possible stressful situations.

B) Avoid conflict

Interpersonal conflict in the workplace negatively affects the work environment and your personal mental and physical health. Conflict may be difficult to avoid in a workplace as stressful environments are sure to elicit differing opinions. Despite this, make sure that you can manage the conflict so as to avoid unnecessary stress that won’t benefit you or the other party in the long run.

C) Keep yourself organized

Disorganization is more than likely to increase your stress at work. Planning your day out beforehand means that you can avoid rushing to work and leaving late at night.

D) Perfectionism isn’t perfect

Perfectionism in the workplace will not work out as humans are naturally imperfect beings. The extra strain of making sure that each and every aspect of your work life is unblemished will lead to an unnecessary amount of stress appearing in your life.

E) Keep calm and relax

Taking time to enjoy the simple pleasures in life, whether that be truly appreciating a meal or taking a walk to calm your mind will decrease the amount of stress you feel and will allow you to work more overall.

It’s definitely a process to manage your stress as a post-graduate, especially in an industry that is set to change at a constant rate. These steps helped me manage the stress I faced and hopefully, they can work for you too. Now make sure you make the most out of your stress-free work life!

Balancing work and personal life

When you enter the professional world, it is always a challenge to get used to it. The shift can be quite a shock. A lack of preparation and time management skills may create the illusion that time is moving faster. University students, on average, have fewer personal responsibilities than employed individuals. That is exactly why I, alongside innumerable universities students, could not immediately balance things. However, the learning curve associated with this shift also happens with equal velocity, if you follow a few simpler steps after graduating:

A) Use your time wisely

There may come a time when you have a to-do list with 50 items on it. Instead of quantitatively assessing the list and letting it demotivate you, it is much more useful to assess it qualitatively; that is, arranging the tasks based on their urgency and importance.

B) Know your limits

Hustle culture every day is largely unhealthy in adulthood. Post-graduates are often led into believing that a work and personal life balance is unnecessary. When I first started working at Cicero & Bernay, a PR agency in Dubai, I too had this belief that working as much as physically possible was beneficial—which it was not. I felt burnt out  and it demotivated me to continue. Working in healthy time intervals afterwards allowed me to keep true to my personal duties; whether that be spending time with family or friends or simply taking that break and this overall increased the quality of my work.

C) Learn from mistakes

Do not, and I truly mean DO NOT view your mistakes as failures. After all, mistakes allow an individual to grow as a person. The mistakes are failures mindset must be erased if you want to actually make a difference in your workplace with your craft as it develops through fixing yourself time and time again.

Farah Itani is Account Executive at Cicero & Bernay Communication Consultancy, an independent PR agency headquartered in Dubai offering new-age public relations consultancy to the UAE and across the MENA region. |