Making Mental Health a Priority from 9 to 5

There’s a paradox in the workplace involving daily tasks and overall mental health.

Many employers and employees alike claim that they’ll find time to make mental health a priority as soon as their current workload subsides. However, that workload never subsides. In fact, over the course of the week, more and more tasks are added to the workload. Not only will those individuals never find time to make mental health a priority, instead the work they’re looking to accomplish becomes a barrier between workload and improving their own mental state.

Many workplaces are guilty of this trend. Understandably, placing a focus on mental health can feel like taking time away from work that needs to be done, and to a certain extent that can prove true. However, much of the time lost while employees and employers focus on mental health is gained back in increased efficiency after individuals take time to mentally rest and reset.

What’s more, the benefits of even a single hour or day spent focusing on mental health can reap benefits in the days, weeks and even months to come. Even if you can’t take an entire day to focus on your mental health, or if you can’t afford to give your employees an entire day for the same purpose, we’ve outlined little ways you can make mental health a priority during the day.

Little breaks can yield big results.

If you’ve ever been swamped with work, you know the difference that even a 5-minute break can make. Even 5 minutes away from your desk, off of the phone or outside of the office can make you feel like a changed individual by the time you’re ready to return to the workplace.

A little break can make all the difference for your mental health as well. Even if you’re not overworked, take the time you need during the day to pace the work you do and the emotions you feel. If there’s a project that’s particularly frustrating, causing prolonged anxiety or compromising your workday, remove yourself from the workplace for a short time. Whether that means you take a walk around the office, strike up a conversation with a coworker or just hit the bathroom, time away from your work is good for your productivity and your mental state alike.

Make mental health a common conversation topic.

Much of the stigma surrounding mental health, especially mental health in the workplace, vanishes as soon as it becomes a shared conversation topic. As soon as employees, and especially employers, take the time and the courage to talk about common mental struggles, and how to address and prevent them, the workplace becomes more than a place of business. It becomes entirely more of a family, one working not just toward commercial success, but toward a healthy mental environment.

Conversations about mental health don’t need to begin with the entire company sitting together in a meeting room. They can take place around a water cooler, at a coworker’s desk, even in a setting that’s not work-related at all. In fact, many times a conversation about the importance of mental health in the workplace is even more productive if it’s held in a more informal setting. The important thing about a conversation regarding workplace mental health is not the setting, the moderator, or even the questions asked; rather, it’s important that opinions are expressed, individuals feel heard and mental health is established as a priority worth prioritizing.

Whether employee or employer, make sure everyone has the tools they need.

Workplace tools can be as simple as computers, pencils and note-taking supplies, and as complicated as compatible workplace deskmates and in-office climate control. As an employer, it’s your job to ensure that all of your employees have the tools they need to succeed. And as an employee, it’s your job to speak up if one of the core tools you need to properly and completely fulfill your job has not been provided to you. Having all of the tools you need to complete a workplace task helps minimize anxiety; on the contrary, returning every day to a workplace that is without crucial tools can take a strong mental toll on the employees who work there.

Similarly, it’s important that both employees and employers have access to appropriate mental health tools. Whether these tools include access to an outdoor space for a quick walk, or comprehensive employee assistance services, tools that promote strong mental health are even more important in the workplace than tools that foster productivity.

Mental health at work starts with the small things.

Mental health affects work in so many different ways. Productivity, self-confidence and quality of work and life all hinge on an employer and an employee’s ability to manage mental health while fulfilling daily tasks. Fortunately, employee assistance programs (EAPs) like Mazzitti & Sullivan EAP helps you address all of these concerns and more. Like any top-tier EAP, we help employees deal with any concerns that could be compromising productivity, initiative or quality of life. From substance abuse to family issues, marital counseling to grief therapy, employee assistance programs like Mazzzitti & Sullivan EAP help you increase employee retention, decrease absenteeism and transform output.

Mental health should always affect work. Any time employees or employers try to remove or suppress mental or behavioral health in the workplace, the consequences are destructive. Instead, look to establish mental health as a priority at the office between 9 and 5, to take definitive steps toward a happy, healthy, efficient office atmosphere.

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