Why Mental Health should be a priority for companies

genesis.studio

 

genesis.studio has been focusing on finding new ways to improve the Mental Health of its team, providing information and helping people to know more about this subject while conducting initiatives that allow people to express how they feel this process should be better.

We believe that it’s ok not to be ok and if people don’t feel good in their workspace, they should make that known to a fellow coworker, manager, or HR technician, so they can be helped accordingly.

 

What is Mental Health

To the World Health Organization (WHO), Mental Health is “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community”.

In this definition, Mental Health is much more than the diagnosis and portability of mental disease or deficiency. It is how people can deal with their daily lives in a healthy and safe manner.

Just like physical health, you can easily notice when something is not right with your mental health. Physical symptoms like extreme tiredness, prolonged fatigue, headaches, sleepiness, digestive problems, or insomnia are common, but you should also be aware of psychological symptoms like negative thoughts and constant lack of motivation.

This is usually the tell for a pessimistic state of mind that can result in anxiety, burnout, or depression, three of the most common mental health issues.

 

Mental Health in a Professional Context

Most people spend about one-third of their lifetime at work. It is of the utmost importance that the working hours represent a good experience for each individual because the opposite can cause permanent damage to their mental health.

The most common contributors to work-induced stress are:

  • Kind of work: some professions are naturally more stressful, such as medical staff and first responders, because of their responsibilities;
  • Work environment: the way people feel when they are working is usually a great indicator of them being in a healthy or toxic work environment;
  • Connection to coworkers and managers: how people relate to other people at work can show if they are a good fit for the team or if something does not feel right;
  • Amount of work: the disproportional quantity of work can trigger some mental health issues, especially those attached to the feeling of failure;
  • Autonomy vs micromanagement: the way people feel while given autonomy or, on the other hand, being micromanaged can cause some problems if not brought to light to the people in charge;
  • Schedule and workplace: not giving freedom of schedule and workplace can be the reason behind increasing stress, particularly after the pandemic period when some workers had the chance of trying a new way of work and felt it suit them better;
  • Organizational culture: the way the company treats and respects its employees is the key to good organizational culture, and the lack of it can lead to unsatisfaction and possibly mass resignations;
  • Career progression: not having a vision of progression can be one of the main reasons for lack of motivation, which can be accompanied by other negative states of mind;
  • Insecurity of work conditions: not being sure of their job conditions, such as permanency or working shifts, can lead to serious stress;
  • Work-life balance: not having a good balance between personal and professional life can make people feel like they are failing in one or several aspects of their lives.

Different people can find one of these aspects to be more relevant than the others because there is no one-size-fits-all solution for working experiences. The key is to have an open communication channel with people and the flexibility to adjust experiences and workflows to their expectations, within a reasonable spectrum. Not addressing problems at their core or disregarding the aspects that lead to their appearance can cause serious mental health problems, such as:

 

Burnout

Burnout has been included in the international disease classification by WHO in 2019, resulting in an occupational phenomenon, which means it is usually the result of a professional-induced problem and not necessarily a medical condition. According to the Portuguese Psychologist Order (OPP), “occupational stress is the second most reported health problem related to work in Europe”.

Burnout syndrome is a response to work chronic stress that can cause damage in all dimensions of a person’s life: physical, emotional, mental, behavioral, and social. It results in a detachment of the person regarding their family and friends, a lack of empathy, and a feeling of dehumanization. This exhaustion process is usually accompanied by feelings of professional disorientation, weariness and emotional instability, guilt feelings for underachieving professional expectations, and a sense of isolation.

In 2020, the English website Small Business Prices has conducted a study in European countries and has concluded that Portugal is the #1 at risk for workers burnout, based on the analysis of parameters such as happiness index, average wage, and the number of weekly working hours.

 

Anxiety

Anxiety is a normal emotion, experienced by everyone in their daily lives and characterized by feelings of tension, concern, and insecurity, while physical symptoms include an increase in blood pressure, heart frequency, sweating profusely, mouth dryness, tremors, and dizziness.

Nonetheless, when it shows itself very frequently or is a constant state of mind, it is a problem. It is estimated that 1 in 6 Portuguese people has anxiety problems, which can affect children, teenagers, adults, and the elderly. If not properly addressed, it can escalate to serious phobias or panic attacks.

In a professional environment, anxiety is usually an indicator that something is frightening or worrying the worker, in a frequent or constant manner.

 

Depression

Depression is the most frequent health problem at the work, and the main cause of incapacity, according to WHO. It is estimated that affects over 10% of the Portuguese population.

According to the Portuguese Psychologists Order (OPP), “depression is an intensive and persistent pain experience in which a person feels deeply miserable and sadly most of the time, has easy crying and irritable temperaments, is feeling down and even disinterested in its usual activities”. It is characterized by negative thoughts of failure and lack of self-esteem, feelings of sadness, and lack of pleasure in daily activities. It can also manifest itself through lack of concentration or motivation, trouble sleeping, and decreasing of the ability to make decisions.

Most people who experience Depression, when helped by professionals, can recover their well-being in about 80% to 90%. When people don’t ask for or get professional help, Depression can affect deeply and negatively their lives and how people think, feel, and behave, damaging relations with family and friends, and also can destroy their sense of life meaning and purpose.

 

Consequences for companies

When a worker is not feeling well, the team can feel it and the company gets fewer results.
Here are some of the scenarios that can happen if companies are not aware and invested in taking care of their people’s Mental Health:

  • More sick and personal days;
  • Less dedication and productivity;
  • Increase in personal rotation;
  • Increase in direct and indirect costs;
  • Increase in clients’ complaints;
  • Bad work environment.

This means that Mental Health is a key factor in business results and companies’ success. It is increasingly something that decision-makers should consider in their corporate plans.

 

How to help prevent Mental Health issues

There is no magic solution that will guarantee that all workers will be healthy forever. We can provide some ideas that might help, but the state of mind of each person only depends on themselves and their own individual circumstances. You might want to try the following:

  • Make sure the topic is not tabu and everybody can talk openly about it;
  • Give people access to information and education on this subject;
  • Guarantee that any complaints or suggestions remain anonymous;
  • Create a process to allow people access to trained professionals for more serious issues;
  • Contribute to a good work environment;
  • Plan attainable goals and deploy a normal amount of work;
  • Allow people to have a good work-life balance, which can mean different things to different people;
  • Incentivize healthy practices such as gym, nutrition appointments, meditation, social gatherings, etc.;
  • Assure an open channel between workers and people that can help within the company.

At genesis.studio, we will continue to value this important subject and learn even more about it. If you have any suggestions or want to know more, feel free to contact us here or by email.

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