The pandemic has been tough on everyone, and it's no secret that it's taken a toll on our mental health. And for many of us, our jobs haven't made things any easier.
So how can employers better support the mental health of their employees?
The Integrated Benefits Institute (IBI), a non-profit organization that researches health and productivity, recently analyzed the impact of the pandemic on mental health, and the results offer some insights.
To see the results from IBI's analysis click here.
One of the key findings was that remote and hybrid work can be associated with increased anxiety and depression symptoms compared to in-person work. This isn't to say that working from home is always bad for mental health, but it's worth considering how the shift to remote work may be affecting employees.
In addition, the rate of individuals taking a mental health prescription medication has increased, and the unmet need for counseling has also gone up.
The IBI also found that rates of anxiety and depression were higher in women than men, and individuals with lower income and those who had difficulty meeting living expenses had higher rates of depression and anxiety symptoms.
Respondents who reported they were not currently working due to illness or caregiving responsibilities were more likely to report anxiety and depression.
Having children in the household seemed to have a beneficial effect on mental health, especially for those who were not currently working.
To put these findings into context, the IBI spoke with human resource executives at two large companies, ArcBest and Boeing, about workplace mental health support.
The executives recommended the following:
- Increasing efforts and interest in mental healthcare,
- Helping employees coordinate their mental healthcare with their physical healthcare,
- Providing culturally competent mental healthcare
- Improving workplace culture and reducing stigma with peer-support networks and education
- Facilitating peer-support as an important part of mental wellbeing.
So, what can you do to support your own mental health at work? Here are a few suggestions:
- If you're working from home, try to create a clear separation between work and home life. Set boundaries around when you work and when you don't, and create a dedicated workspace if possible.
- Take breaks throughout the day, even if it's just to stand up and stretch for a few minutes. It's important to give your mind and body a break from work.
- If your employer offers mental health resources, take advantage of them. This could include an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), counseling services, or mental health days.
- Talk to your supervisor or HR representative if you're struggling. They may be able to offer accommodations or additional support.
- Consider connecting with colleagues for support. Peer support networks can be a great way to reduce stigma around mental health and find support from people who understand what you're going through.
In conclusion, the pandemic has taken a toll on our mental health, and employers have an important role to play in supporting their employees.
By creating a workplace culture that prioritizes mental health and offering resources to support mental wellbeing, employers can help their employees thrive both in and out of the workplace.
And if you're struggling with your mental health at work, know that you're not alone, and there are resources available to help you through it.
How do you feel about remote working? Is it time to ask people to come back to the office or should it become the new normal? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!
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