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How can mental health be managed in the workplace?

How can mental health be managed in the workplace?

From 15th to 21st May is Mental Health Awareness Week 2023. This is an annual event in which the whole of the UK focuses on how best we can work together to achieve good mental health. This years theme is ‘anxiety’, which is a common feeling for many people especially within the workplace.

What is anxiety?

Anxiety is a natural response to stress that many people experience at some point in their life. It is a feeling of worry or fear that can range from mild to severe and can be caused by a variety of situations or events. Anxiety can be a normal response that helps us to cope with challenges, but when it becomes excessive, it can interfere with our daily life and well-being.

There are many different types of anxiety disorders, including panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and specific phobias. These disorders can have a significant impact on a person's quality of life and may require treatment, such as therapy or medication, to manage symptoms.

How many people are affected by anxiety?

According to a study from Mental Health UK a little over 1 in 10 of us will be living with an anxiety disorder at any one time – that’s over 8 million people. Champion Health have also revealed the impact of anxiety on UK employees in their Workplace Health Report. Some of the key findings included the following statistics:

  • 60% of employees experience anxiety.
  • 67% of employees aged 16-24 experience anxiety.
  • 65% of females experience anxiety.
  • Only 10% of employees are seeking mental health support.

With so many employees experiencing anxiety, organisations must also be aware of how anxiety will impact wellbeing.

How can companies improve the overall mental health of their employees?

Mental health is an important aspect of overall well-being, and companies can play a crucial role in supporting their employees' mental health. Here are some ways companies can help their employees with mental health:

Promote awareness and reduce the stigma surrounding mental health

Companies can create awareness by organising workshops on various mental health topics. They can also reduce the stigma around mental health by promoting a culture of openness, where employees feel comfortable discussing their concerns without fear of judgment.

Provide resources and access to mental health professionals

Companies can provide resources such as counselling services, and online resources to help employees access mental health support. They can also offer health insurance that covers mental health services and ensure that employees are aware of the benefits available to them.

Implement mental health policies

Companies can implement policies that promote work-life balance, this includes flexible work arrangements, and stress management. They can also offer mental health days or leave for employees who need to take time off to manage their wellbeing.

Create a supportive work environment

Companies can create a supportive work environment by encouraging managers to have regular check-ins with their employees. It is important to provide opportunities for employees to socialise and connect with colleagues. They should also ensure that the workplace is free from bullying, harassment, and discrimination.

Lead by example

Employees with higher positions can lead by example by promoting mental health awareness, this can help to create a supportive company culture that encourages employees to prioritise their own wellbeing.

How to cope with anxiety in the workplace

Whilst employers can offer their help and support in achieving good mental health for employees, it is important for employees to also understand what they can do within the workplace when they start to feel anxious. Here are some tips for coping with anxiety in the workplace:

Practice relaxation techniques

Anxiety tends to cause shortness of breath and heart palpitations; therefore deep breathing and mindfulness meditation exercises are techniques that can help to reduce anxiety.

Prioritise self-care

Taking care of yourself is essential for managing anxiety. Make sure you are getting enough sleep, eat a balanced diet, and exercise regularly. Taking breaks during the workday to stretch, walk around, or engage in other relaxing activities can also be helpful.

Manage your workload

Prioritise your tasks and break larger projects into smaller, more manageable pieces. If you are feeling overwhelmed, consider talking to your manager about adjusting your workload.

Communicate with your manager

If your anxiety is impacting your ability to perform within your job, it may be helpful to talk to your manager about your concerns. They may be able to provide support that can help you manage your anxiety.

Seek support

Talking to a trusted colleague, friend, or mental health professional can be helpful for managing anxiety in the workplace. Support groups or Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) may also be available through your employer.

Managing anxiety takes time and practice, it requires patience and understanding. So make sure you don't hesitate to reach out for help if you need it.