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Cracking the Mental Health Code

On the 10th of October 2023 was Mental Health Awareness. 

“In addressing the importance of mental health, we must recognize its significance on par with physical well-being.  As people spend a large proportion of their lives in work – a safe and healthy working environment is critical.  It is time to focus on the detrimental effect work can have on our mental health. The first step in comprehending the needs of employees who come forward with mental health concerns is fostering an environment of transparency and trust. It is regrettably common for vulnerability to be misconstrued as a weakness, potentially hindering career growth or even jeopardizing job security.

Fostering open relationships is the cornerstone upon which trust and bonds between management and staff are built. Engaging in honest dialogues with our team members has the potential to ignite their authenticity daily. Beyond merely hearing their words, we must listen attentively to the narratives they share.

Employees aspire to excel, contribute to the organization’s success, and derive a sense of purpose from their work. However, many silently battle anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues. In some cases, these conditions are managed with medication, which may result in side effects such as drowsiness, hallucinations, and even thoughts of self-harm.

The struggles faced by employees can be overwhelming, and they often grapple with the feeling that seeking assistance is not acceptable.

Leaders in the workplace need to know that mental health wellness transcends the mere suggestion of work-life balance. The concept of work-life equilibrium is not just an idea; it’s a profound contemplation for us all. It urges us to redefine the very essence of “life.” Is it simply the journey through metaphorical gardens leading to our workplaces, or does it encompass the intricate tapestry of financial responsibilities, spanning from our children’s education to utility bills and car repairs? Achieving this equilibrium isn’t solely about dividing our time; it’s about nurturing our holistic well-being in a world where our personal and professional lives seamlessly merge. It’s a crucial dialogue that warrants our attention to ensure that we all lead more joyful, healthier, and more fulfilling lives

To cultivate a workplace culture that both values and supports mental health, we suggest the following strategies:

  1. Begin the day with a warm cup of coffee or tea and engage in sincere inquiries about your team’s well-being. Demonstrate active listening, kindness, empathy, and understanding without judgment. It is crucial to make your employees feel valued and included. Inquire about how you can be of assistance. By embracing vulnerability and serving as role models in this respect, we can forge unbreakable bonds of trust throughout the entire organization.
  2. Establish and nurture a support group, enabling employees to connect, share resources, and gain fresh insights. 
  3. Launch and actively participate in a program led by mental health champions that imparts knowledge on discussing mental health awareness in a compassionate and constructive manner. 
  4. Institute a support hotline where employees can engage with a therapist or, if possible, have a therapist available on-site. Consider bringing in a professional to address mental health challenges.
  5. Create serene spaces where employees can retreat for meditation, prayer, or relaxation through deep breathing exercises. It is essential to support them in making the most of these resources.

Irrespective of the industry—whether it’s a Fortune 500 company, a public sector entity, a fast-food establishment, or a non-profit—leadership plays a pivotal role in guiding, supporting, and empowering employees. 

Leaders, employers, project managers, team leaders, it is imperative to initiate discussions about mental health. Your words hold immense influence, as these conversations and positive language ripple throughout the organization. Leaders who address mental health issues earn respect. Recognizing the signs and openly discussing mental health is paramount. People yearn for assurance that you are dedicated to fostering an environment where they can freely and securely discuss mental health.

Our efforts extend beyond enhancing productivity; they can be life-saving.

Written by: Eyitayo Oyegoke