Part 1: What is mental health?
For most of us, work takes up the majority of our time during the day. In order for a business to run efficiently and productively, the work 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 pace 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 mental health 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. Ill mental health can lead to serious problems like anxiety and depression (the most common forms of mental health conditions) to severe illnesses 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 mental health support in the workplace is crucial.
There is a correlation between a positive office environment and economic gain. This is as often, individuals suffering from mental health issues may require support tailored specially to their needs.
This was the ‘what’ of mental health. Stay tuned for the second part of this blog where I will speak about the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of the issue.
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. | www.cbpr.me