The Most Common Mental Health Issues in the Workplace
As we spend majority of our waking lives in the workplace, a mentally healthy workplace is essential in order to thrive.
Despite this, it seems many Australian workplaces are not meeting the expectations of their employees.
According to a report on workplace mental health by Headsup.org, while 91% of employees believe mental health in the workplace is important, only 52% believe their workplace is mentally healthy.
So, what are the most common mental health issues in the workplace, and how can we unite to create change in Australian workplaces?
Despite only 3% of Australians identifying it as a major health problem, depression is currently the leading cause of non-fatal disability. In the workplace, this is one of the most common mental health issues impacting on an employee’s wellbeing, productivity and self-esteem. Many employees suffering from depression choose not to disclose to employers or co-workers about their mental health for fear of stigma, retribution or loss of their job.
In order to ensure happy, healthy workers, employees should focus on creating:
Good working conditions (natural light, fresh air, minimal noise disruptions and a comfortable temperature)
Jobs that offer employees an opportunity to use and develop skills
Supportive management styles
Clear expectations of employees and their roles, with support to meet these goals
With more than 2 million Australians reported to have anxiety, this is one of the most common mental health issues in the workplace. Just like depression, anxiety can have crippling effects on a person’s ability to perform in the workplace. More than feeling worried or stressed, anxiety can be difficult to control and may even appear to exist without a seemingly obvious root cause.
The most common symptoms of anxiety in the workplace include:
Feeling restless, tense or on edge
Becoming easily overwhelmed and upset
Constantly worried or apprehensive
Having difficulty making decisions
In addition to creating a safe and healthy space for employees, employers should also focus on flexibility and support for all workers. In scheduling regular one-on-one catch ups, employers also gain insight into how a worker may be feeling and implement an individual plan to ensure workers are equipped with the right conditions and support to achieve set goals.
While the manic high periods of bipolar disorder can be associated with high levels of creativity and productivity, challenges of stigma and discrimination can impact an employee (or potential employee) from securing work or moving ahead in the company.
Causing extreme shifts in mood, energy, sleep and personal wellbeing, the level and severity of bipolar disorder varies significantly depending on the type of condition experienced: bipolar I, bipolar II or cyclothymic disorder.
In order to ensure employees with bipolar disorder are best supported, employers should:
Offer mental health training and awareness to all staff to break the stigma
Ensure mental wellbeing policies and procedures are in place a good work/life balance
Be flexible in your approach to working hours – allow longer breaks for scheduled appointments and the option to work from home
Offer additional support and management training to interested employees