While progress is clear when it comes to how we view mental health, it still keeps a low profile in conversations in the workplace since it remains stigmatized. Being open about their mental health may cost employees their jobs.

With the hesitation to speak openly about mental health however, it will be harder to address problems in the workplace.

The Impact

With people hesitant to seek treatment due to shame and stigma, there is an increase in the proportion of presenteeism in companies. For companies, it translates a sharp decrease in productivity. If employers want to stay on top of their game, conscious efforts must be executed to make sure the individual employees are in top shape with respect to their mental health.

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What Companies Can Do

Words are tremendously powerful. This is especially true for the workplace. Language which dismisses mental illnesses as trivial, a sign of weakness, or the fault of the employee will only take employees further away from attaining an optimal mental state. With this, company leaders should acquire the skill of properly communicating with their employees. Employers must encourage their employees to participate in discussions, decision-making and listen to their feedback.

Company orientations and awareness seminars are some of the things that companies could consider so that misconceptions about mental health are dislodged from the mindset of the employees and the employers alike.

Work-related stress resulting from long hours at work, bullying in the office, poor management and communication and other factors should always be taken into account. Employers must ensure that workloads are managed properly and that employees’ contributions are properly recognised. Conflict resolution practices must be in place and employees must be aware of sources where they can reach out and find help.

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A Safe Space

We should transform our workplaces into spaces where employees can voice out their vulnerabilities without being penalized for doing so. This is a move towards making the work environment a safe space for people with mental health illnesses.

While being held back by their mental illnesses, affected employees are equally capable and reliable people in a space which empowers them to be.

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