It’s a well-known fact: people spend a lot of time at work. In fact, the typical 8-hour shift is a third of our day, 5 days a week. As such, it’s important for us to consider how the workplace can affect our mental health (and vice versa), how we can take control of certain items to boost our mental health, and how employers can work to support employee mental health concerns.

Mental Health at Work – As an Employee
Work can be stressful – it’s something at we have all experienced at one point in time or another. Here are a few things you can do to mitigate the amount of stress you feel at work.

  1. Set Yourself Up for Success
    A good day at work starts the night before. Before heading to bed, pack a healthy lunch and snacks that you can look forward to throughout the day. Layout your clothes to avoid any stress or fashion missteps the next morning, and make sure that you get eight hours of sleep.
  2. Create Boundaries (and Communicate Them)
    Boundaries can protect you and your coworkers. They establish clear guidelines so that everyone knows what to expect. One boundary might be turning off your email or phone notifications during your lunch break so that you can have dedicated time to yourself outside of work.
  3. Practice Controlled Breathing Techniques
    If you find yourself in a stressful situation at work, take a few moments to recenter yourself. Excuse yourself from the conversation, take your fingers off of the keyboard, or simply close your eyes for a moment. Breathe in for five seconds, then breathe out for five seconds. Breathe in for ten seconds, then breathe out for ten seconds. Continue this until you feel ready to dive back into the situation.

Mental Health at Work – As an Employer
There is a common misconception that mental health is a personal issue, and that it doesn’t affect an employee’s work or enter the workplace. However, stress in the workplace can increase the potential for workplace accidents, decrease productivity, increase absenteeism, and lower morale within the team . It’s your responsibility as an employer to look after your organization’s mental health and provide resources to support your employees.

Here are some quick tips to start creating a culture of mental health awareness and support:

  1. Monitor
    Check in on your employees often to see how they are faring. Start conversations with open-ended questions like, “How is everything?” or “How can I help?”. Keep an eye on their workload to ensure that it is balanced and not leading them on a path to exhaustion or burnout. If available, offer flexible working arrangements to allow them to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
  2. Offer Support
    Be compassionate and considerate when discussing mental health. Express that you are here to help and listen actively when employees voice their concerns. When applicable, offer support tools, programs, or resources.
  3. Train
    What is your current culture around mental health? A great place to start is with general training around the importance of mental health, how workplace stress can manifest, and how and where to find support within the organization.
  4. Practice Inclusivity
    Ensure that everyone on your team feels comfortable and valued. As you receive feedback from employees, take the information to heart and work on making your workplace a safe environment for all.
  5. Modeling
    It is important to lead by example. Engaging in healthy behavior and interactions not only demondstrates to others how to be successful in this action, but also creates a healthy culture of respect for the team.