It seems we’re more open about discussing mental health issues than ever before, but there’s one topic that is rarely discussed: how mental health affects our work lives. Mental health issues affect every worker at every level, from the entry-level employee to the c-suite executive.
We spend so much time working, and our jobs can have a significant impact on our mental well-being–one that often goes unnoticed. If mental health symptoms go ignored, it can cause serious harm to your health and career.
Since May is Mental Health Month, now is as good a time as any to be more mindful of your mental health in and out of the workplace.
1. Don’t sweep it under the rug.
If you’re experiencing mental health issues, talk to your employer, manager or supervisor about it. You don’t have to tell them every little detail. Just say that you would benefit from some time off to talk to a health care provider or therapist. You might be surprised by how receptive your employer is to this kind of conversation.
Think about how and when you want to have this conversation, because once you say it, it can’t be unsaid. You should feel comfortable and secure discussing something so personal with your employer. It’s so much better to have an honest, open discussion instead of trying to cover up your symptoms.
2. Leave work at work.
There’s a lot of good that comes with constant, immediate connection, but it can be problematic when it comes to trying to maintain work-life balance. Try to keep work at work. It’s OK to send a late night email response every now and again, but if off-hour work becomes a part of your routine and it seems like you’re always on the clock, you need to assess your boundaries. Be upfront with your manager about what you’re willing and unwilling to handle.
3. Don’t let your mental health become a problem.
Identifying a mental illness can be difficult because it doesn’t appear physically. It’s important to know what signs and symptoms to look out for so you can intervene early on. Do you feel like you can’t focus lately or you’re not as productive as you were a few months ago? Are you dragging yourself out of bed every morning? Maybe you’ve been dealing with mood swings or a bad temper.
Make it a point to periodically check in with yourself and how you’re feeling. It’s never too late to seek treatment for mental health, but taking action early on can prevent you from feeling like you’re spiraling out of control.
4. Take time for yourself.
Be honest with yourself about what you need to feel happy, healthy and balanced. Not checking your email on weekends, going for a walk during your lunch hour or leaving work promptly are boundaries that can help you feel more in control.
5. Take a mental health day.
As an employee, it’s your job to do the best work you can, which requires you to have the right mindset. For smaller issues, a mental health day may do the trick, but if you’re dealing with something more significant, such as anxiety, depression or a death in the family, it’s wise to have an honest, yet brief conversation with your supervisor.
Think of it this way: By failing to communicate that you’re dealing with mental health issues, the reasoning behind your performance issues is left to your supervisor’s imagination. You don’t need to share all of the details, but you should share whatever you feel comfortable sharing. It’s also wise to share your plans for treatment, such as therapy, so you can continue working.
6. Know your rights.
It’s illegal for an employer to discriminate against an employee because of a mental health condition. You can’t be fired, forced to take a leave of absence or denied a promotion because of a mental health condition, or even if your employer suspects you have a condition.
Per the Americans With Disabilities Act, employees with any mental health condition that “substantially limits one or more major life activities” also have the right to workplace accommodations, such as an altered work schedule, work-from-home days or time off for therapy sessions. Many companies offer employee assistance programs that can connect you with free counseling sessions. Check with your HR office for more information.
Your mental health impacts all areas of your life, and it’s important to take it seriously. Help is available. Hemet Valley Recovery Center’s treatment services can help you take control of your mental health. For more information, contact us at 866-273-0868.