We have all heard words like, “Its nothing, I can cope with it”, “I can work under pressure” or even “I don’t need any help”. These statements and sayings are thrown around daily, yet they’re often very misinterpreted and rather binding statements. words like “pressure, trouble coping, help” should not equal the overlooking or inconsideration of people still just being people. This is especially true of a workplace, where the performance of the employment is directly linked to the performance of the employees. Employees are the beats per minute which keep a company and the economy running. The workplace is a place with people from all walks of life, with different beliefs, opinions, and trauma experiences. The workplace is the one place where most people spend most of their time and, whether we agree or not, the one place with the most emotional torment. That is why it is utmost vital to keep yourselves and your employees happy and mentally healthy.

The point of departure when speaking about Mental illnesses are that they are health conditions, which are diagnosed and that can affect how a person feels, thinks, behaves, or interacts with other people. It is diagnosed according to standardised medical criteria. It can involve single episodes, be much longer lasting, or anywhere in between. It is not ascertainable as to what exactly causes people to develop mental health conditions, but it has been determined that Mental illnesses are thought to be caused by a number of interacting elements too, just as physical health and illness in general are. Mental illnesses have various affects upon a person, and each person is affected differently. It would affect how one thinks, feels, and acts. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and one’s ability to make choice despite numerous uncertainties in the field, it has been determined that mental health is an important aspect at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.

“Just snap out of it, business has to go on”. Many people are afraid to share with co-workers because of the fear of being judged, or worse the misinterpretation that they cannot cope with their work which could result in job loss. The public stigma and societal insensitivity of mental health is one of the leading factors contributing to the hesitation of talking about mental illness and can easily influence one to adopt unhealthy coping mechanisms.

A normally punctual employee might start turning up late. Adversely, even, an employee may begin coming in much earlier and working later. Despite this seeming positive act, it can stem from a mental health problem. Other signs might be tearfulness, headaches, loss of humour, changes in emotional mood, use of alcohol, drugs, or smoking, outbursts of anger or emotion, absences from work, or not looking after their appearance as they normally would. You may see signs that they have been sleeping less or perhaps drinking more in the evening.

There are six main areas that can lead to work-related stress if they are not managed properly. These are: demands, control, support, relationships, role, and change. For example, workers may say that they are not able to cope with the demands of their jobs. Poor working environments including discrimination, inequality, racism, excessive workloads, low job control, job insecurity and unhealthy conflict resolutions or “sweeping issues under the rug’’ pose a risk to mental health.

The disadvantage of poor employee mental health in the workplace is more likely to result in loss of productivity, absenteeism, having to recruit and train employees due to high turnover, and even higher health insurance costs, even for small businesses, these costs can add up.

Notably, employers should be mindful against disciplining or prejudicing employees who suffer from mental health related issues. When an employer identifies any sign of mental health issues from an employee, an employer should first consider an informal approach in assisting the employee as far as reasonably practicable. This may include granting the employee time off in the form of sick/annual leave and/or providing counselling to the employee.

Some employers have established Employee Assistance Programmes to support employees dealing with mental health issues. These Employee Assistance Programmes will not only be beneficial to the employee’s well-being but will also maintain their good work performance and good conduct in the workplace. If an employer does not have an Employee Assistance Programme, employers should educate employees on institutions such as the South African Depression and Anxiety Group. Human Resources professionals include mental health and wellness benefits, such as insurance coverage, access to apps and counseling. Beyond traditional benefits, HR sometimes offers programs like yoga or mindfulness exercises.
In conclusion, discussing mental health openly in the workplace can help to create an environment in which employees can feel comfortable reaching out for support. If an employee is struggling with mental health issues, they may be more likely to seek help if they know that their workplace is open and supportive. Positively managing mental health underpins good employee engagement and benefits everyone employees, employers, and the bottom line. If you look after your employees’ mental wellbeing, then levels of engagement will rise and so will staff morale and loyalty, innovation, productivity, and profits.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA): For general information on mental health and to locate treatment services in your area, call SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).