I recently read an article in Harvard Business Review, “Young Workers Need Companies to Prioritize Mental Health”. It discussed that those aged 18 to 30 are the most vulnerable to mental health challenges and the least prepared to cope. Some contributing factors include feeling more pressured than their older peers, concern over debt and paying bills and being less likely to report their challenges to employers. The article went on to discuss actions being taken by some companies to promote mental health in the workplace including :
Helping with the transition into the workforce with workshops and group discussions at the University and College level to build confidence
Training new hires how to cope with stresses on the job and the importance of having evenings to themselves for their own activities
Leaders setting a good example by being vulnerable with their experiences and challenges so others can learn from them
Regardless of age, mental health can impact anyone. With yearly campaigns such as Bell Let’s Talk, the stigma is lessening as people become more aware. But wouldn’t it be great if we lived in a world where mental health challenges were accepted and we didn’t need campaigns to normalize human experiences?
The World Health Organization states that there can be no health without mental health. Mental health encompasses more than just the absence of mental illness. It can be defined as a state of well-being in which a person is able to :
Realize their own abilities
Deal with normal life stresses
Engage in productive activities
Make contributions to their community
There are many determinants of mental health including socioeconomic, genetic and environmental factors . Long term stress can be an important gateway into mental health issues. When the body is constantly in fight or flight mode, it can lead to burnout which has been associated with anxiety and depression. High levels of stress can also negatively impact physical health by increasing susceptibility to disease .
Everyone can benefit from learning skills to manage stress. Here are a few:
432 hz music for anxiety on YouTube can be used with headphones while working
Stop. Drop. Meditate. I wrote a blog post titled “Your gut on meditation”. Some tips can be found there on how to meditate.
Self-care. What makes you happy? Is it playing a sport? Getting together with friends? Dancing? Reading a book? Make time for the things you value in your life and healthy behaviors such as exercise, eating well and sleep. “If you don’t take time to take care of your health now, you’re going to have to make time for feeling sick and tired later” – Karen Salmansohn
Reverse negative thoughts. For example, you think “My yearly review at work today will be terrible”. What evidence is there for this thought (both for and against)? Is it based on fact or feeling? Are any assumptions being made? Write these answers down to better assess your thought patterns and see where there may be inconsistencies. If you identify that there is an issue, problem solve by determining feasible solutions and developing an action plan.
Get the support you need. Talk to family and friends. And enquire as to whether your company’s group insurance offers assistance for mental health or speak to your healthcare provider.
Be compassionate and kind to one another. Each person is fighting a battle the other knows nothing about.
Harvey, B. 2020. Young Workers Need Companies to Prioritize Mental Health. Harvard Business Review. Accessed from: https://hbr.org/2020/01/young-workers-need-companies-to-prioritize-mental-health
World Health Organization. 2018. Mental health: strengthening our response. Accessed from: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/mental-health-strengthening-our-response
LeBlanc, N.J. and Marques, L. 2019. How to handle stress at work. Harvard Health Publishing. Accessed from: https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/how-to-handle-stress-at-work-2019041716436