Over the past couple of years, workplaces have more fully recognized the need to pay attention to mental health at work. Employees are whole people. Work and life often collide. We don’t just turn off who we are when we walk in the door of our workplaces. Yet, there is still a taboo about talking about mental health at work. We want that taboo to go away. If we don’t discuss a problem, that doesn’t make it go away.
The only way we can tackle mental health challenges at work is to talk about them. Then we can help employees cope. There are many mental health challenges that might impact employees at work. Below we discuss some common challenges that employees face: depression, anxiety, and ADHD.
Depression is a Major Mental Health Challenge at Work
Depression is a commonly experienced condition that affects about 5% of the working population. It occurs when individuals feel despondent and lack energy, without having an acute event that causes these feelings. People who suffer from depression often feel sad for long periods of time. They also lose interest in activities they used to enjoy. At work, depression can make employees feel demotivated and unhappy with their organizations.
The good news is that, with treatment, the impacts of depression at work are lessened. Specifically, cognitive behavioral therapy can decrease the impacts of depression on employees’ work. But, employees may not feel comfortable seeking treatment if their workplace stigmatizes depression. When employees anticipate that their workplace might stigmatize depression, they are more likely to be absent and have lower performance. But, when they feel that they can be open about their depression, they are more likely to be present and their performance doesn’t dip.
Anxiety is Also a Challenge at Work
Anxiety impacts nearly 20% of the working population. It is characterized by feelings of apprehension, tension, and worry. People who suffer from anxiety tend to feel this way more frequently and for reasons that others might not feel anxious about. Especially in the past couple of years, employee anxiety has increased. This is because employees are scared for their health due to COVID-19.
When employees have a high workload or experience a lot of time pressure at work, they are more likely to develop anxiety on the job. So, workplaces can decrease anxiety at work by decreasing the amount of work that employees have to do. They can also create realistic deadlines and ensure they have an appropriate number of employees on teams to complete work. Just as with depression, making it ok to talk about feelings of anxiety at work is crucial for ensuring employees are honest about their worries. If you know what is making anxiety worse in your organization, you might be able to fix it.
ADHD is an Additional Mental Health Issue at Work
About 10% of the working population has ADHD. ADHD involves having trouble paying attention. It can also make people hyperactive. Some people suffer from both of these symptoms. ADHD might involve an inability to control oneself in certain settings or to lack the motivation to do so.
ADHD can decrease work performance because employees have a hard time concentrating. Engaging in career counseling, combined with therapy, can help. ADHD is still stigmatized, which can cause coworkers to reject those with ADHD in their work environment. By discussing ADHD and making it clear that employees with ADHD are just as talented as any other employee, those with ADHD may be more likely to come forward and seek treatment.
Overall, we need to discuss mental health at work in order to decrease stigma. When leaders can share their stories and struggles with mental health, these topics become less taboo. So many people struggle with mental health challenges at work. Let’s try to find solutions instead of ignoring the problem!