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Mental Well-being In The Workplace – The Elephant In The Room

We live in a fast-paced world today, where things change very quickly, and everyone is permanently busy. Millions of people suffer from mental health problems around the world, but unfortunately, it is an issue that does not get as much attention as physical health predicaments.

It is very crucial to raise awareness about mental health and also to address the challenges people are facing. Talking about mental health is the first step towards understanding the importance of maintaining mental well-being.

If you have challenges regarding your mental health, you need to know that there are professionals out there that really can help you and that you’re not facing the challenges alone, says Vivian Acquah.

The Human Factor

Vivian is a workplace wellness advocate and is the creative lady behind the idea of hosting a weekly live broadcast of “Let’s Humanize The Workplace” on Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, and iTunes. She believes in increasing the “human factor” of workplaces so that organizations can create a thriving workplace for people instead of an environment that cause people to disengage.

In her broadcast, she attempts to raise awareness about workplace wellness by engaging in discussions with an expert on the topic, with live audiences on board. Her experience with unsettling attitudes at her workplace, when she was dealing with postnatal depression, has helped her develop an understanding of how workplaces need to acknowledge mental health issues.

Mental Health Is With Us

“There are more and more people who are having to deal with mental illness. And that is impacting their ability to perform at work,” says Caroline Ribeiro-Nelson.

She is the head of Free Choices, where she works with professionals specializing in psychological health & well-being. She has been working to popularize the idea that for relationships and businesses to prosper, a positive culture of mental health and well-being needs to exist in workplaces. Her encounter with mental health issues 20 years back has served as a precedent for the work she is doing right now.

In her own words, “In the workplace it is important not only the recognise the importance of your employee’s mental health, but to also enable them to express what is going on for them in their whole range of feelings and reactions.

People may feel shut down by what is often viewed as acceptable and appropriate in the workplace. However, this is self-defeating, as our mental health is not something, which we can switch off and on or decide to deal with outside of the workplace.

Our mental health is always with us — it impacts how employees are in the workplace, it impacts their relationships, it effects their ability to do their work and the end it effects how productive and successful businesses are.”

World Mental Health Day

Mental wellness is something that people from all walks of life deal with. Last October, on World Mental Health Day, Prince Harry and Ed Sheeran teamed up to raise awareness about mental health. In a brief sketch, they demonstrated how important it is to address this issue and seek out professional help because nobody should suffer in silence.

It is high time that we get rid of the stigma that comes with mental illness. We, as human beings, need to acknowledge that taking care of your mental health is just as vital as taking care of your physical well-being.

Bring Your Whole Self

All of us feel emotions inside us. “You cannot switch that off, “said Vivian, emphasizing how at a workplace, employees are expected to act ‘professional,’ which entails displaying no sentiments at all. They are required to behave as robots with no feelings and emotions whatsoever. Trying to be someone you are not, trying to suppress feelings of sadness and anger is what triggers mental health issues. As Caroline eloquently puts it: “Allow people to be their full selves at work, and to be able to share those feelings and feel part of a community because sharing feelings connects people.”

Employees spend the better part of their days on their job. Concealing all your human emotions between 9 to 5 every single day is highly likely to take a massive toll on your mental well-being. Employers need to create an environment that stimulates a supportive conversation about mental health. There is a tremendous need for an atmosphere of love and support that enables employees to express their feelings without the fear of being judged.

Modern Workplaces

Most workplaces of today are not equipped with the necessary tools to ensure an environment of moral support and encouragement. Even though we live in an era of technological development with information at our fingertips, mental health awareness has not yet reached the modern workplace. The problem that emerges is that most businesses do not consider spending time and resources on mental health initiatives. There is no tangible financial return to be directly expected, which makes mental health less of a priority. What businesses do not realize is that ensuring psychological well-being is just as significant as physical well-being. An office needs to be mentally safe for the employees the same way it would be physically safe.

Now the question is, what can be done to overcome this problem? What can we do to help? The answer is quite simple. Recognize your limitations. Do wellness checks for yourself and the people around you. Being able to identify signs of a mental health problem is immensely important. The indications of a problem can be anything that keeps you from being yourself. Once you can identify your limits, you can pinpoint what pushes you towards them. You can come up with constructive methods to improve your mental well-being and find support in your friends and family.

While all aspects of your mental well-being hold substantial importance, there are alarming signs that should not be ignored at any cost. For instance, letting a great deal of anxiety and stress linger on your mind for an extended period. Moreover, the physical signs brought on by mental issues should not be disregarded. Stomach cramps, nausea, chest pains, shoulder knots are all signs of high-stress levels.

According to Caroline, “If you’re suffering from headaches, dizziness, extreme exhaustion, heart palpitations, feeling low, loss of appetite, not wanting to socialize, you may have feelings of self-harm. These are all clear signs that you’ve reached your limits.

Take Care Of Yourself

It is a healthy practice to keep yourself in check. Take a self-care day. Do something that brings joy to your life. Go to therapy. There is no shame in that. Come to terms with the fact that you are not a superhero, and you do sometimes need help. Sometimes setting your boundaries and saying no is good for your mental health. Instead of buckling under the pressure of expectations, excusing yourself when you have reached your limits is what is required. Perhaps the most vital sign of deteriorating mental health is suicidal thoughts. It is a matter of grave concern that requires immediate attention. Think of methods to manage your stress before it becomes life-threatening.

Due to a lack of dialogue about mental health, it is associated with a lot of myths. It’s not a weakness. It is a natural part of who we are. And I think that we have to get rid of that,” says Caroline debunking one of the myths.

The stigma that follows mental health discussion gives birth to another myth that mental illness makes one less productive or unreliable. In reality, mental illness does not affect your performance as long as you have the proper help and support. This myth makes people hesitate to talk about their mental well-being. And not being able to talk about it is what affects their performance.

The belief that some people are cognitively strong and thus immune to any kind of mental illness is also a misconception. Each and every one of us is susceptible to a mental health problem. It is something that everyone needs to continually take care of and keep checks on.

Safe Work Culture

Creating a more psychologically safe work culture is a manifestation of thoughtfulness and care. It shows that your business is aware of the psychological challenges one might be facing. It portrays your company as one big happy family. Mental health training provides your employees with tools that help them take care of themselves and be content with life. Happy employees can lead to satisfied clients, which leads to better business. It is essential that mental health awareness and care is a year-round thing and not just a method to improve your brand image.

As Vivian sums it up, “We want to humanize the workplace. And the most human thing that you can do is to be there for each other and support each other. Not by raising any biases but by helping people when they are in need.

What kind of actions are you or your company taking to increase mental health awareness in the workplace?

Time To Change

Related Episodes:

Leader Put Your People First

HostVivian Acquah 
As a Workplace Wellness Advocate, Vivian advises managers on how to keep their team members healthy, happy, and safe by using a holistic approach called workplace wellness. She is also the digital strategist for this live stream production.

This live stream will be broadcasted via LinkedIn, Facebook, Youtube & Twitter/Periscope simultaneously. Involve your audience by using live streams! Would you like to know more? 
Feel free to send a 📧 via LinkedIn or

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Vivian Acquah CDE®