Adults, For Therapists

Mental Health In The Workplace

Shifting Your Company’s Culture Around Mental Health

Could working be bad for your mental health? A study published in 2021 suggests executives and mental health professionals need to do more to promote positive wellbeing and mental health in the workplace.

This is what the research says about workplace mental health

  • Three quarters (76%) of full-time workers reported experiencing at least one symptom of a mental health condition, up from 59% in 2019.
  • The most common problems people reported were burnout, depression, and anxiety.
  • These conditions are lasting longer. 80% reported symptoms lasted a month or more.

The study also found that some demographic groups are at greater risk. People identifying as Women, Millennials and Gen Z, LGBTQ+, Black, and Latinx, are significantly more likely to experience symptoms of anxiety, depression, and burnout. 

Of course, the pandemic has caused significant changes in many peoples’ working lives. The shift to working from home has meant many parents work long hours, balancing childcare and work responsibilities.  

Companies with a positive attitude to mental health have employees who are less likely to experience mental health symptoms.

These employees are better able to talk about mental health issues. And they are more satisfied with their jobs. The results suggest it makes good business sense to invest in employees’ mental health.  

It’s one thing to discuss the benefits of a company culture that promotes employee mental health. It’s quite another to know how to achieve it.

Therapists and counselors can assist in this cultural transition by being part of the change executives want to achieve. In particular, employees wish to have information about:

  • Mindfulness training. Studies suggest workers are interrupted approximately every 12 minutes, causing stress, loss of productivity, and frustration. Learning how to manage attention is a crucial skill.
  • Sleep support. Managing screen time and alerts, caffeinated beverages, and other wind-down solutions.
  • Where to go and who to ask for mental health support.
  • How to identify and support colleagues experiencing an emotional crisis. 
  • Naming, noticing, and managing emotions. 

Many well-meaning companies organize these one-off training days or campaigns, but and stop there. And while these are helpful and necessary, it is not sufficient.

Mental health needs to become part of the fabric of an organization.

Employees need to feel they work in a safe, supportive environment with an open culture about discussing mental health concerns. This includes how their mental health effects their work AND how their work effects their mental health!

Much has been written about the future of work following the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to working from home, employers can change the culture around worker mental health. Positive changes might include:

mental health awareness at work
  • Embedding mental health professionals in corporations.
  • Creating a strategic approach to cultural changes that support workers’ psychological wellbeing.
  • Reducing mental health stigma.
  • Seeing psychological and emotional health as an essential competitive advantage.

For guidance and advice on how to create a resilient workplace, specialized consultants can help you bridge the gap between business and mental health. If that feels like too big of a step, consider brining in a series of mental health presentations to your organization. They can included the topics listed here, or others based on the needs of your organization.

Mental health at work isn’t just an individual problem to be solved. It should be a collective priority for organizations of all industries and sizes.

About the Author

Anna Rowley, consultant for improved mental health in the workplace

Dr. Anna Rowley, MPhil, PhD. is a professional counseling intern with Montgomery County Counseling Center. Her expertise in business and psychology started well before her time at MCCC.  Anna studied for a Master of Philosophy degree in group work before completing a Ph.D. at the University of London. She worked for 14 years in the department of psychological medicine at a children’s hospital in London. Most recently, through her consulting practice, Anna has helped executives, founders, and entrepreneurs cope with stress and burnout, imposter syndrome, lack of confidence, and, most importantly, how to activate their everyday resilience.

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