While I’ve often talked about the negative circumstances you can encounter in the workplace and how these contribute to mental health problems, it’s also important to talk about the positive experiences to counterbalance that. After all it’s not all doom and gloom and there are plenty of experiences to show there is hope when it comes to finding a workplace that is good for your mental health.
Back in November 2019 I attended the Women in Tech Regatta and was inspired by several of the talks I attended. One of them was around “Integrating career and parenthood” and as I was sitting there, I felt that it touched upon some of the tensions we face in the workplace when battling with our mental health regardless of whether we are parents or not.
This got me thinking of the work-life balance again, and how we can create work environments that are favourable to managing the different roles we have in life.
This is a topic I have been wanting to cover for a while, but for which I needed to have enough distance with a specific event to write objectively.
Today I am coming from the position where trust in the workplace is a topic we are openly and actively discussing at the company. We talk about the impact lack of trust has on teams and individuals, how it affects our ability to do our jobs, and why we need more of it… Needless to say, I find it exceptional that we do so.
The work life is balance is a concept that is constantly being sold to us. In particular in today’s context of increased pressure and burnout, we are all running after it as if it were some sort of treasure. Countless articles are out there telling us how to find it, in fact I myself wrote one a few years ago.
When I asked what I should write about when it comes to mental health in the workplace, this was one of the topics suggested. It’s an important one because it is still not easy to broach the subject, despite the fact that a lot more is being done these days to help raise awareness and disseminate information.
Today I’d like to talk about what happens when work takes over your life. By that I mean more than working long hours, I’m talking about when work starts to ruin your social life, your relationships and your health. When it changes you, to a point where you’re not who you used to be. What can we do about this, and how can we prevent it?
If you are faced with some sort of mental health issue, you know that certain situations can “set you off”. If you suffer from social anxiety, going to large gatherings or parties may not be good for you. Or if you suffer from depression, an argument with a friend or a negative comment might start you spiralling into negative thoughts that it’s hard to get out of.
It’s difficult enough having to deal with these situations on a daily basis, but it’s an added challenge dealing with them at work. How can you ensure you will remain composed? How do you keep your emotions under control with your colleagues? How do you get away if you need a moment to collect yourself? I try to provide some answers below…
I’ve been addressing mental health in the workplace for a while, but one cannot talk about burnout (or other issues) if one doesn’t talk about what leads to it…
A lot of my articles focus on the individual and knowing oneself, which I continue to believe is of utmost importance. But is undeniable that certain environments create a burnout culture and are not favourable to employees’ wellbeing.
As I’ve been talking a lot about mental health in the workplace, it seemed natural to cover talking about it with your boss/manager. This is a difficult topic: on the one hand mental health is still stigmatized, particularly in the workplace. On the other hand, I believe in the importance of speaking about these issues to raise awareness.
Whether or not you feel comfortable telling your manager about your mental health issue is very personal, and will depend on several factors: your level of trust, their openness to listen to you, their ability to understand (as you perceive it), and what you expect as an outcome of the conversation.
With the recent publication of the « Thriving at work » study, it felt like an appropriate time to write the sequel to my first post, which I’d been planning for a while.
In case you’ve not heard of the report, it was commissioned by Theresa May and highlighted the fact that around 300’000 people with a long term mental health problem lose their jobs each year. Not only that, but apparently the number of people forced to stop work as a result of mental health problems was 50% higher than those with physical health conditions.
Finding the work life balance is a tough one. Where does work end and play start, particularly if work is your life for example? Starting a new job after nearly a year and a half of unemployment, suddenly made it hard for me to find a healthy balance between the two. I was catapulted from 100% “manage your own time ” into a very demanding job.
When I was unemployed, I wrote several posts on how this could be a positive experience if approached in the right way, and I still believe that. Having your own time to do what you want is a luxury that we are very quick to forget, and we complain too soon that we have too much time on our hands and are bored. But trust me, once you are back in the game you long for those days.