Mental health in the workplace
Nicole Cogdell-Quick, LPC
Mental health has everything to do with how we as individuals think, feel, and behave. The more positive we think, the more balanced a lifestyle we maintain, and the better we feel and function overall. However, for many, mental health automatically brings to mind mental illnesses like depression, anxiety, bipolar, and schizophrenia.
Mental health and wellness is just as real as our physical health and can impact our physical wellbeing. As most people spend the majority of their waking hours at work, it is important to cultivate mental health in the workplace.
Being unhappy at work is common. Feeling unsupported by a supervisor or boss, inflexible work hours, unrealistic expectations, lack of resources to complete job duties, and low pay all contribute to dissatisfaction. When employees feel unsupported, unheard, and unappreciated, it has a negative impact on mental health.
Unhealthy work environments often have low productivity, low motivation, and increased absenteeism. Stress from work can also impact family life and even increase risks for chronic illnesses and heart attacks.
The World Health Organization (WHO) encourages employers to implement clear and open communication within the company by:
- clearly communicating expectations
- promoting the health, safety and wellbeing of all employees
- being open to ideas and feedback from employees
- recognizing accomplishments by giving positive reinforcements
- demonstrating trust by delegating responsibilities
- demonstrating unity
- being culturally sensitive
- remaining aware of how everyone contributes to the mission of the organization
A positive work environment compels employees to feel good about coming to work, gives them purpose, and provides motivation to sustain them and the organization. One key component to a healthy work place is employee position compatibility. Incompatibility is a sure formula for disaster, toxicity, dissatisfaction, and non-productivity. When employers and supervisors understand their employees’ strengths and weaknesses, it is not difficult to know where they would best fit.
Employees also have a responsibility for contributing to the wellbeing of others in the work place by being courteous to each other and not engaging in behaviors that instigate a toxic or unsafe environment. Clear, open, and respectful communication and participation in team meetings and projects ensures that everyone can contribute to the mission of the organization.
Mental health in the workplace is possible and realistic! Mental health affects our life balance, focus, and day-to-day functioning. Everyone plays a role in promoting a healthy work environment. When everyone does their part, wellness is sure to flourish.
Nicole Cogdell-Quick is a certified addictions counselor and a member of the South Carolina Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors. She sees patients at HopeHealth on Palmetto Street in Florence.