Employees often worry about disclosing their mental health concerns to upper management, thinking that they have to put up a front once they step into the office. However, bottling up these emotions is unhealthy. Previously, ‘The Messy Desk’ was an analogy for what happens when our minds are overly cluttered with information. Ignoring the mess can have serious consequences on other parts of our lives – it can seep out when we least expect it to, like at work.
Psychotherapist and mental health advocate Liz Beecroft says that everyone has their own share of stressors, adversities, and traumas which they carry with them even into the workplace.
Nowadays, we are all affected by the global health crisis, which can impact us in varied ways. This is exactly why it’s important to address the elephant in the room – to rid the workplace of judgment, and instead, foster an environment of support and understanding.
Wellness in the workplace
The concept of wellness in the workplace differs from organisation to organisation. While many of today’s offices pose as ideal places to work, offering employees everything from healthy food choices to exercise classes, these do not necessarily address the mental health issues that employees commonly face.
Pain Free Working highlights the fact that employees are happier when they know that upper management is concerned about their emotional wellbeing too. Aside from creating conducive environments for working and improving mood, lines of communication must always be open for employees to discuss what they need to show up and perform well.
This is even more necessary now that remote work has become the new norm. Frequent communication is important in such a time of crisis. This could have a significant impact on employees – outputs, creativity, productivity, and mental health as a whole.
An act of courage
This may be easier said than done, because stigmas persist and people remain hesitant to let their guards down. However, you should not wait until things get too bad and for your desk to get too ‘messy’ before you do something.
In an article in Medium on mental health in the workplace, Allison Grinberg-Funes states that you should not wait until an issue has snowballed into something greater or more complex. Try to set a one-on-one appointment with your managers to give them the context of your situation.
You may also notice that your ability to work and get things done has changed because of your own personal anxieties and worries in relation to this pandemic. Let your superiors know what you are thinking and feeling, as they may also be dealing with these in their own ways. This will enable them to offer you more support where it’s needed.
The mere act of initiating a conversation with your bosses is an act of courage – and you only have to share what you are comfortable with.
Setting a precedent
This could also set a precedent for how the entire organisation operates. Sometimes, upper management may need this nudge from their employees, who – after all – are the backbone of the company.
Psychologist Dr. Farrah Hauke says that committing to ending the stigma on mental illness begins with your own thoughts. However, you may also need to assess how comfortable you are in confiding in your boss. If you have a good working relationship, you may already be aware of the approach to take, especially if you know that what you are going through will affect your ability to deliver or work with your colleagues.
Bosses should offer support and guidance, but if you are hesitant to take that leap, consider confiding in trusted coworkers or bringing up your concerns to HR. At the end of the day, what matters is that you feel that a weight has been lifted and that you are not alone in your struggle.
Think about what you need or what can be changed for you to succeed while still being conscious of your overall wellbeing. Remember, it should be in your company’s best interest that you are comfortable and supported in your job.
Having a sense of security and clarity is important for everyone during these unprecedented times. And in advocating for your own mental health, you may be able to advocate for others as well.
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