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  • Writer's pictureTaryn Abrahams

There's A lot Going On!

There is a lot going on in the modern workplace! Burnout is at an all-time high, addiction and self-medication is on the rise, morale is low and leaders are struggling to engage and retain their employees. These are all symptoms of a much bigger discussion...MENTAL HEALTH. The topic of mental health has historically been a challenging topic to discuss, especially in the workplace. But mental health such as depression and anxiety are associated with higher rates of disability and unemployment. Depression

interferes with a person's ability to complete physical job tasks about 20% of the time and reduces cognitive performance about 35% of the time. ( Therefore, addressing mental health and mental fatigue should be part of the overall conversation of workplace health and wellness to prevent a ripple effect that could potentially impact bottom line.

What we DO know is that mental health problems have an impact on employers and businesses directly through increased absenteeism, negative impact on productivity and profits, as well as an increase cost to deal with the issue. In addition, they impact employee morale adversely. (

With that said, workplaces that promote mental health and support people with mental challenges and disorders are more likely to reduce absenteeism, increase productivity and benefit from associated economic gains (

Work-related Risk Factors for Mental Health There are many risk factors for mental health that may be present in the working environment. Most risks relate to interactions between type of work, the organizational and managerial environment, the skills and competencies of employees, and the support available for employees to carry out their work. For example, a person may have the skills to complete tasks, but they may have too few resources to do what is required, or there may be unsupportive managerial or organizational practices. Risks to mental health include: Inadequate health and safety policies Poor communication and management practices Limited participation in decision-making or low control over one's area of work Low levels of support for employees Inflexible work hours Unclear tasks or organizational objectives Signs of Poor Mental Health at Work When we think about mental health, we often think about overt outbursts or inability to manage daily stress. But when it comes to the workplace, those signs of mental health may not always be obvious. Some signs could include:

Employee Disengagement Missing deadlines Refusing to turn on their webcam during virtual meetings Resistance to take on additional work Signs of burnout Tardiness, absenteeism or leave of absence Outbursts/inability to manage stress "Quiet quitting"- Quitting the idea of going above and beyond (doing the bare minimum) Workplace bullying, harassment, discrimination, toxic workplace behaviors Loss of interest in activities Difficulty concentrating and making decisions Fatigue Creating a Health Workplace

A healthy workplace can be described as one where workers and managers actively contribute to the working environment by promoting and protecting the health, safety and well-being of all employees. Interventions should take a 3-pronged approach:

  • Protect mental health by reducing work-related risk factors

  • Promote mental health by developing the positive aspects of work and the strengths of employees

  • Address mental health problems regardless of cause

Interventions and good practices t

hat protect and promote mental health in the workplace can include:

  • Implementation and enforcement of health and safety policies and practices, including identification of distress, harmful use of psychoactive substances and illness and providing resources to manage them

  • Informing staff that support is available

  • Involving employees in decision-making, conveying a feeling of control and participation; organizational practices that support a healthy work-life balance

  • Programs for career development of employees; and

  • Recognizing and rewarding the contribution of employees

Mental health interventions should be delivered as part of an integrated health and well-being strategy that covers prevention, early identification, support and rehabilitation.

The KEY to success is involving stakeholders and staff at all levels when providing protection, promotion and support interventions and when monitoring their effectiveness.

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