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GUEST BLOG: Maintaining Positive Mental Health in the Workplace

In a year of unbelievable upheaval and loss, it’s no surprise so many of us are burned out. Beyond burned out, really. The pandemic blurred the lines between personal and professional space and there are promises we will never go back to work in the same way again.

This scenario suits many just fine. There are others, however, who are more vulnerable to the challenges of remote working. Whatever the physical configuration of the “new normal “ workplace, space must simultaneously be made to nurture employees’ mental well-being. Read on to learn how companies and individuals can maintain positive mental health in the workplace.

Why Should Employers Care About Mental Health in the Workplace?

Employers are uniquely positioned to support employees in managing stress and building skills. Burnout is such a serious issue that Harvard Business Review called it one of the “most pressing topics facing business today” and published a 6-part series called, “The Burnout Crisis.”

Mental health carries with it an enormous economic burden: quantified as over $210 billion by the Center for Workplace Mental Health. Nearly half of these costs were attributed to the workplace-- absenteeism (missed days from work) and presenteeism (reduced productivity while at work). Whether or not created by the workplace, it is business that ultimately bears the impact burden of stress and poor mental health.

Remote Work Creates Both Physical and Mental Space Shifts

Remote working emerged as something of an elixir for work-life balance for some people. These individuals revelled in the freedom and flexibility of remote working: creating time to connect with family, indulge in hobbies, and maintain the mundane chores of life, among other things. For many others, however, this rosy scenario did not ring true.

Being physically disconnected from the office served to simultaneously disconnect workers from resources and socialization. At its heart, a company’s workplace is where culture is ingrained and learnings shaped through team experiences. Disconnecting from the physical office severed a lifeline.

Feelings of disconnectedness while remote working has become a significant workplace mental health issue. Mental health at work and soft skills like communication/ human interaction are both suffering.

Recognizing Signs of Poor Mental Health

Mental health problems can have many different symptoms and signs. Examples of stressful workplace situations might be managing a reorganization, a tough workload, or a frustrating colleague. Here are some early signs to look out for:

  • poor concentration

  • being easily distracted

  • worrying more

  • finding it hard to make decisions

  • feeling less interested in day-to-day activities

  • low mood

  • feeling overwhelmed by things

  • tearfulness

  • tiredness and lack of energy

  • sleeping more or less

  • talking less and avoiding social activities

  • talking more or talking very fast, jumping between topics and ideas

  • finding it difficult to control your emotions

  • drinking more

  • irritability and short temper

  • aggression

As organizations formalize their work from home policy shifts, the boundaries between home and work will continue to blur. Mental distress and burnout will continue to be significant issues. Stress will also become more challenging for organizations to manage off-site.

How Training can Help

Working on this with resilience training -- to withstand, bounce back from, and work through challenging circumstances or events at work-- is one powerful workplace burnout prevention strategy. Decades of empirical studies on the impact of resilience indicate that resilience:

  • Increases well-being and optimism

  • Reduces and prevents depression, anxiety, and conduct problems

  • Results in fewer substance abuse and mental health diagnoses

  • Improves workplace engagement and productivity

  • Improves physical health

Whether employees sit in the corporate office or in a home office, giving them mental health training to self-empower sets them up for wellbeing. Improving stress management and mental health markedly improves an individual’s work satisfaction, engagement, and communication.

Staff at all levels in an organization can benefit from a resilient, growth mindset. Creating workplace cultures that embrace and enhance positive mental health lays the groundwork for mentally-strong employees. Training for sustainable positive mental health empowers individuals with practical skills for work and beyond.

About the Author

Rama Eriksson is a Content Editor at Her writing is complemented by 15+ years as a marketing professional. She brings her experience and curiosity to connect professionals to the right training to help further their goals. Originally from the New York area, Rama has lived in Stockholm, Sweden since 2010.

With thanks to Rama and Find Courses for sharing this blog

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