Those suffering from mental health disorders often find that every aspect of their daily life can be invaded – from morning routines and personal time, to their professional life. Being able to communicate one's needs is crucial for maintaining a healthy state of mind.
However, while in the workplace, effectively communicating these vulnerable topics can be difficult. These discussions are generally filled with nuance and uncertainty as one searches to balance their mental health needs with their professional obligations. Talking about mental health needs in the workplace is essential for leading a healthy lifestyle. Approaching this delicate topic with care and focus is the first step to creating a healthy, balanced, and positive experience both inside and outside of the workplace.
The Importance of Mental Health Awareness
Mental health awareness is a crucial component of overall health, though is much less talked about. For some, the fact that mental health is more “invisible” than physical ailments, such as a broken bone, can make it seem like it is somehow less of an issue. However, one's mental health – whether an individual is coping with anxiety, depression, panic, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or more – impacts one's life in every way, including their professional life.
Work itself is a major source of anxiety for many. Being cognizant of one's mental health needs can contextualize these exacerbated feelings of anxiety or stress while in the workplace. However, these stresses can continue to build and affect an individual on and off the clock. Creating a dialogue about one's mental health needs and developing a plan accordingly is essential for one's continued health and performance in the workplace.
Mental Health Needs to Be Discussed
While opening a dialogue about one's mental health needs in the workplace can fill an individual with feelings of vulnerability, it is still a topic that needs to be discussed for the benefit of one's health. Suffering from mental health disorders can impact one's professional performance. Keeping silent about one's needs can be detrimental while on the clock. Additionally, it can cause an individual to work against their own better judgment or set unrealistic expectations of themselves when it comes to long hours or certain tasks.
Creating a dialogue early with one's supervisor or manager can keep expectations and needs transparent. This enables both parties to create a plan and make it easier for an individual to prioritize their health without feeling unfairly compelled to compromise their mental wellbeing.
One's mental health needs should especially be discussed if the source of one's concern is within the workplace itself. Unsafe or unfair working environments, toxicity in the workplace, unfair expectations, pervasive miscommunication and guidelines, and more can all be incredibly confusing. They can even lead to frustration, anger, anxiety, self-criticism, depression, and even substance abuse.
Addressing these concerns with a trusted supervisor can bring light to a situation that may be affecting multiple people.
These mental health concerns may even be shared by coworkers and continue to add to a fragile workplace environment. Anxiety, stress, and more are all common experiences. Discussing this vulnerable topic can empower others to voice similar concerns and create a unified approach to healthier workplace dynamics.
Talking about these aspects can help an individual better balance their personal lives, as well as prevent misunderstandings, fatigue, and burnout from affecting one's workplace performance.
Choose Who to Trust
While talking about one's mental health needs is necessary, it does not need to be done in a major public forum. It can even be conducted with supervisors or managers outside of one's department. Finding an individual that one can openly speak to about these vulnerabilities is crucial. Talking to just one or two trusted people in the workplace can provide the needed intimate setting to explore the implications of one's mental health needs regarding work-life.
Plan Ahead of Time
Scheduling a meeting can be more effective than trying to have an impromptu conversation about such delicate topics. Preparing in advance can provide time so an individual does not have to discuss these issues while experiencing large amounts of anxiety, panic, or anger – ultimately promoting a healthy dialogue.
This also allows an individual to compose and edit their language ahead of time, streamlining effective communication when discussing such a metaphysical, emotional topic. Giving employees time to figure out how to articulate the need for mental health awareness and provide examples of how one's mental health affects one's work can build a conversation on a foundation of awareness and support.
Know Your Resources
Some workplaces will provide resources for those suffering from mental health conditions in the form of either support groups or outreach programs that can address such a ubiquitous concern. Asking about such resources or using one's meeting to draw awareness to the need for these resources can be significant. Focusing on a need for these resources to be more available and apparent can frame one's voiced concerns as a dialogue. This can make it evident that it is less of a personal issue and more of a benefit that can impact many people in the workplace.