Mental health in the workplace

By Rifa Rasheed


For most of us, work is a major part of adulthood. We spend so much time at our workplace. However, most of us are not happy or satisfied with the work that we do. Having a fulfilling job contributes to our mental health and overall wellbeing. 

A fulfilling job depends on two factors: the work we do and the work environment. Oftentimes, the latter is the main reason for many of us to be unhappy about our work. 

Chances are that the challenges we have in our home can have an impact on our mental health even at work. Mental health problems can have a lot of different symptoms and signs. So, do not hesitate to seek help from a mental health professional for yourself or help a colleague if you/they show the following signs:

  • Makes uncharacteristic mistakes
  • Finds it hard to be motivated
  • Unable to manage time appropriately 
  • Short-tempered
  • Looks or feels tired
  • Isolated, avoid others, or appear distracted 
  • Procrastinates more or grinds to a halt altogether 
  • Speeds up or becomes chaotic
  • Takes on more work than can manage
  • Outbursts of anger or emotion
  • Absences from work 
  • Unkempt appearance or poor hygiene as opposed to the usual appearance
  • Chain-smoking
  • Mood affected over several weeks
  • Have thoughts of self-harm or suicide

Good mental health at work and good management go hand in hand. It's known that workplaces with high levels of mental wellbeing are more productive. Therefore, it is vital to address mental health at work for those with existing issues, for those at risk, and the workforce as a whole. A toxic work environment can be corrosive to our mental health. Our workplace should be a place where everyone can thrive, and both the employer and the employee have a major role to play in creating a thriving work environment. Here are some ways to ensure this:

  • Speak candidly about mental health and keep the conversation going since this is the first step to bust myths and stigma around mental health. Talk openly and without shame to help others realize they aren’t alone and to stop people from treating mental illness as taboo. 
  • Include all levels of staff. Demonstrate that you genuinely care for the mental wellbeing of your employees and colleagues as much as you care about their productivity and performance.
  • Encourage employees to take mental health days off. Accept that it is necessary to take a day off from work to recharge.
  • Pay attention and be ready to help. If you do notice an employee showing any symptom/s mentioned above, don’t hesitate to ask them if everything is alright. Even if they tell you they’re fine, remind them that you’re there to help.
  • Provide them with up-to-date tools, resources, and information on mental health care available in the country and facilitate easy access to these resources. 
  • Prioritize confidentiality and anonymity. Respect and reassure your staff that their privacy is your top concern, and having a mental health issue will not cost them their employment.
  • Design a mentally healthy workspace where staff feels comfortable, with natural lighting, plants, and other positive features. 
  • Focus on the positive. Mental illness is a serious issue, but it can still be addressed in a way that makes people feel understood, appreciated, and hopeful. 
  • Ensure employees and colleagues that they have options to keep a good work/life balance. 
  • Cultivate a culture that values respect for others.


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