According to the WHO, an estimated 264 million people suffer from depression. This is one of the major causes of disability, with many of these people also suffering from anxiety. Depression and anxiety disorders are estimated to cost the global economy $1 trillion per year.
Unemployment is well-recognized as a factor that can lead to poor mental health. However, a negative working environment can also lead to problems. Workplaces that choose to actively promote positive mental health are likely to reduce work absences and increase productivity.
A Negative Working Environment
Most employees spend around one-third of their day at work. A toxic working environment can severely affect your mental health. It can negatively impact your performance at work and disrupt your personal life.
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High-stress situations, constant competition, and unrealistic expectations are all too common in many offices. These factors can lead to a general work atmosphere that is toxic and detrimental to mental and physical health.
Studies show that 25-80% of women experience some form of sexual harassment at work in their lifetime. If you are targeted in this way, it could lead to depression or PTSD. These after-effects could last for many years. Many people who suffer from sexual harassment at work may be forced to quit their job, potentially adding financial worries to their plate.
If you are treated differently at work because of your race, sex, religion, age, nationality, or sexual preference, you are a victim of discrimination. This can cause people to feel intimidated, uncomfortable, or even scared. Feeling unsafe in this way can cause stress, anxiety, depression, and PTSD.
It can be hard to measure whether a toxic leader creates a toxic environment or the other way around. However, the two factors will usually come as a pair. A toxic leader will make you feel undervalued and unappreciated. They could be narcissistic and any sense of trust or teamwork could quickly evaporate.
This would be the norm in a toxic work environment. Negative communication will impact a whole organization. Grumbling and complaining can start to turn into finger-pointing and hard cynicism. If there is a lot of tension and blame at work, you may start to withdraw. This in itself can lead to depression. This kind of communication will cause a lot of stress.
Inability To Advance At Work
You may feel like you are going nowhere at work. If you feel trapped in a dead-end job or a hostile environment, this could ruin your physical and mental health. Feeling stagnant and unhappy could lead to a serious downward spiral of poor mental health.
How To Create A Healthy Workplace
Given the impact of poor mental health on work productivity, it is actually in the interest of organizations to take measures to provide a positive and healthy working environment.
According to this survey, 72% of employees want their bosses to champion mental health and positive well-being. This is rated more important than such factors as equality (48%), diversity (31%), and sustainability (38%).
For a long time, talking about mental health was considered taboo. If you want to increase awareness, consider giving employees access to good resources on mental health. Companies could even start their own programs or initiatives. DuPont started a program that encourages their employees to reach out to co-workers if they seem unwell or under stress.
It is especially important for managers and team leaders to learn how to provide support to the people under them. They may be responsible for members of staff with recognized mental health issues. There is no one solution that will help every member of staff. Everybody will have different needs. Some people are naturally resilient, while others will need more care and support.
Encourage A Healthy Work-Life Balance
A positive work environment will provide flexibility. This can help to reduce stress and prevent burnout. The mental health charity Mind tells us that flexible hours can really help with a healthy work-life balance, can give us more control over our lives, can help us to avoid heavy traffic, and can help us to attend important medical appointments.
Have Mental Health Policies In Place
Mental health policies can help to prevent discrimination and reduce stigma around mental health issues in the workplace. If your company already has policies in place, perhaps they could be reviewed. It’s good to ask how these policies can best support employees. This company wrote an entirely new mental health policy and then openly discussed it at work.
Always Treat People Fairly
Treating people fairly means considering people’s different needs, not treating everybody the same. Some employees may feel stressed by busy and noisy work environments. Some employees may not have vivid imaginations and get stressed out by long brainstorming sessions. Don’t assume that everybody shares your values and experiences.
You could help employees in the workplace by providing free and anonymous services that screen mental health. At Help Yourself Help Others you can get a free depression screening questionnaire. You could also provide employees with a hsa guide. This will help them to choose the best health savings account to suit their needs.
Monitor Engagement At Work
Carry out engagement surveys at work and pay attention to the results. Engagement is a really important preventive factor when it comes to poor mental health. When people feel engaged at work they will be enthusiastic and happy to be part of the organization. When people are disengaged they are likely to experience burnout, stress, and alienation.
It is essential to break down any taboos around discussing mental health in the workplace. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to higher than ever levels of stress and anxiety at work. It is critical that companies are taking responsibility for educating their employees around mental health. This will help to prevent burnout, mental breakdowns, and even the risk of suicide.
Companies who invest in positive mental health at work and encourage open discussion will create a healthy working environment. This will make people feel happier at work and increase wellbeing. It is a win-win.