Mental health in the workplace

 Mental health in the workplace

Important information about the following:

A fulfilling occupation is beneficial to one's mental health.

Poor working conditions, such as discrimination and inequality, heavy workloads, low levels of job management, and job instability, represent a threat to one's mental health.

In 2019, it was projected that a mental condition affected 15% of persons who were of working age.

It is estimated that depression and anxiety cause the loss of 12 billion working days per year throughout the world, which results in a loss of output equal to one trillion dollars each year.

There are practical measures that may be taken to avoid the occurrence of threats to workers' mental health while on the job, protect and promote employees' mental health while on the job, and provide assistance for workers who have mental health disorders.

Working may be beneficial to one's mental health.

Almost sixty per cent of the total population of the globe is now employed. Every worker has the right to have a safe and healthy workplace in which to perform their job duties. Good mental health is supported by a decent job since it provides:

  • A way to make a living; 
  • A feeling of self-assurance, purpose, and accomplishment; 
  • The possibility of healthy connections and participation in a community; 
  • A foundation upon which to build organized habits, to name just a few of the numerous advantages.

When it comes to persons who have issues with their mental health, having quality employment may help with rehabilitation and inclusion, as well as increase confidence and social functioning.

It is not only a basic right, but it is also more probable that safe and healthy working environments would decrease stress and disputes at work, as well as boost staff retention, job performance, and productivity. In contrast, a lack of effective structures and support at work, especially for those living with mental health conditions, can have a negative impact on a person's ability to enjoy their work and do their job well; it can undermine people's attendance at work, and it can even prevent people from getting a job in the first place. This is especially true for those living with mental health conditions.

Dangers to one's mental health on the job

Hazards to mental health that occur at work are also known as psychosocial risks, and they may be connected to a variety of factors, including the job itself, the work schedule, certain aspects of the workplace, or prospects for professional advancement, among other things.

Some of the following may pose a threat to employees' mental health at work:

  • Under-use of skills or being under-skilled for work.
  • Excessive workloads or work pace.
  • Understaffing.
  • Long, unsocial or inflexible hours.
  • Lack of control over job design or workload.
  • Unsafe or poor physical working conditions.
  • An organizational culture that enables negative behaviours. 
  • Limited support from colleagues or authoritarian supervision.
  • Violence, harassment, or bullying. 
  • Discrimination and exclusion.
  • Unclear job role.
  • Under- or over-promotion.
  • Job insecurity; under- or over-utilization of skills
  •  Job insecurity

More than half of the working population on the planet is employed in the unregulated informal sector, which offers no protection for workers' health and safety. These employees often operate in hazardous working conditions, put in long hours, have little or no access to social or financial safeguards, and are subjected to discrimination, all of which may have a negative impact on mental health.

Despite the fact that psychosocial hazards may be found in any industry, certain employees are more likely to be exposed to them than others due to the nature of the job they do, as well as the environment in which they do their duties. Workers in the health care industry, humanitarian aid organizations, and emergency response services often have professions that pose an increased risk of exposure to potentially harmful events, which may have a severe influence on mental health.

Risks such as job loss, financial instability, decreased work possibilities, or greater unemployment may be prompted by economic recessions as well as humanitarian and public health situations.

The workplace can be a setting that amplifies wider issues that negatively affect mental health, including discrimination and inequality based on factors such as race, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, social origin, migrant status, religion, or age. This can be a contributing factor in the development of mental illness.

People who struggle with serious mental health disorders have a higher risk of being excluded from the workforce, and even if they do find employment, they have a higher risk of encountering inequity on the job. Being unemployed may also put a person's mental health in jeopardy. There is a correlation between attempts at suicide and circumstances such as unemployment, job and financial uncertainty, and recent job loss.

Taking steps to promote mental wellness in the workplace

Actions taken by the government, employers, organizations that represent both workers and employers, and other stakeholders responsible for the health and safety of employees may contribute to an improvement in workers' mental health on the job. These actions include the following:

It is important to protect and promote mental health in the workplace, support workers who have mental health conditions so that they can participate in their jobs and thrive in those jobs, prevent work-related mental health conditions by preventing the risks to mental health at work, and create an environment that is conducive to change.

Actions taken to address mental health in the workplace should be carried out with the meaningful participation of employees and their representatives, as well as those who have personal experience living with mental health disorders.

Reduce the risk of mental health problems that are associated with jobs.

Managing the psychosocial hazards that are present in the workplace is an essential part of preventing mental health issues that might be brought on by working circumstances. The World Health Organization advises companies to do this by putting organizational interventions into place that specifically target working conditions and settings. Organizational interventions are those that evaluate the risks to mental health posed by the workplace, and then either minimize, change, or eliminate such hazards. The provision of flexible working arrangements and the implementation of frameworks to deal with violence and harassment in the workplace are two examples of the types of organizational interventions that may be taken.

Maintaining and improving one's mental health while on the job

Strengthening skills to notice and take action on mental health disorders at work is an important aspect of protecting and promoting mental health in the workplace. This is especially important for those who are responsible for the supervision of others, such as managers.

In order to safeguard one's mental health, the WHO suggests:

training for managers on mental health, which helps managers recognize and respond to supervisees who are experiencing emotional distress; builds interpersonal skills like open communication and active listening, and fosters a better understanding of how job stressors affect mental health and can be managed; training for workers in mental health literacy and awareness, which aims to improve knowledge of mental health and reduce stigma against mental health conditions at work; and interventions.

Help ensure that persons with mental health disorders are able to engage in the workforce and do well there.

People who are coping with issues related to their mental health have the right to engage in employment in a full and fair manner. An international agreement to promote the rights of individuals with disabilities (including psychosocial impairments) is provided by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. This agreement includes promoting such rights in the workplace. The World Health Organization (WHO) suggests the following three strategies to help persons with mental health disorders achieve, maintain, and engage in employment:

  • Adapting working settings to the capabilities, requirements, and preferences of an employee who has a mental health problem is one of the goals of reasonable accommodations at work. They may include providing individual employees with flexible working hours, more time to accomplish tasks, adjusted assignments to alleviate stress, time off for health checkups, or regularly supportive meetings with managers.

  • Return-to-work programs combine work-directed care (such as reasonable accommodations or phased re-entry to work) with ongoing clinical care to support workers in meaningfully returning to work after an absence associated with mental health conditions, while also reducing mental health symptoms. This type of care is designed to help workers return to work after an absence caused by mental health conditions.

  • Initiatives that encourage supported employment enable persons with severe mental health disorders to find paid work and keep it by continuing to give mental health and vocational support while they are on the job. These people also have an easier time keeping their jobs.

Make the conditions conducive to change in the environment.

By fostering an atmosphere that is conducive to positive transformation, governments and employers, working together with key stakeholders, may contribute to the improvement of workers' mental health while on the job. In application, this means bolstering the following:

  • Leadership and dedication to improving mental health in the workplace, such as by including mental health in the workplace into appropriate policies.

  • Investment of sufficient funds and resources, such as establishing dedicated budgets for actions to improve mental health at work and making mental health and employment services available to enterprises with fewer resources. These are both examples of things that could be done to improve mental health in the workplace.

  • rights to participate in the workforce, such as via the harmonization of employment laws and regulations with international human rights agreements and the implementation of non-discrimination policies in the workplace.

  • Integration of mental health at work across all industries, for instance by including mental health into pre-existing systems for occupational safety and health.

  • Participation of employees in decision-making, such as through organizing meetings that are relevant and timely with workers, their representatives, and those who have personal experience living with mental health disorders.

  • Research on psychosocial hazards and the efficacy of treatments, such as ensuring that all advice and action on mental health in the workplace is based on the most recent evidence available.

  • Observance of rules, regulations, and suggestions, such as including mental health care within the duties of national labour inspectorates and other compliance mechanisms.

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