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From Silence to Strength: World Mental Health Day Unveiled

By: | October 9, 2023 24 min read

mental health day

Research by the World Health Organization (WHO) discloses that over 50% of the world population is employed, and an astonishing 15% of adults within working age are suffering from mental disorders. This is a problem that not only affects individuals but also impacts workplaces as well as communities around the world. Many people who fail to get the right support for their mental health, tend to go through a range of adversities including loss of confidence, compromising their identity, reduced productivity, increased absenteeism at work or even sometimes loss or failure to attain employment.

A striking statistic from the research is that annually, twelve billion working days are lost because of depression and anxiety alone. This productivity loss does not only affect the world economy, but it also underlines how much important it is to ensure mental health support at workplaces. Besides this, people with severe conditions often face exclusion from employment despite work being a part of their recovery process.

World Mental Health Day – October 10th

Mental health is a crucial part of human wellness without which one cannot get healthy thoughts, feelings, and behavior. As we approach celebrating World Mental Health Day on October 10, understanding the value of mental health awareness can’t be left out. It’s not just about the absence of mental health; rather it includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. Mental health is a very integral part that helps people realize their maximum potential in life as well as build strong communities.

World Mental Health Day is observed globally on the 10th of October every year, as a day to create awareness about mental health issues and advance efforts in better care. In 2023, World Mental Health Day has been themed “Mental Health is a Universal Human Right.” The theme reinforces the basic fact that mental health should not be a luxury available only to an elite few but rather just like all other things concerned with human existence, it is our fundamental right.

The theme “Mental Health is a Universal Human Right” is profound. It brings out the aspect that all people irrespective of who they are or where they come from have every right to mental health services and care. Just like physical health, education, freedom of expression are human rights, mental health should also be considered the same.

Why is Mental Health Important?

Mental health is an essential part of personal well-being. It forms the basis for self-realization and other goals while also very closely related to individual functionality, productivity, and even lifespan. Some thought-provoking statistics on mental health include:

Depression: Depression is a disease that can strike people from any walk of life. Although it can affect anyone, there are some circumstances where the individual becomes more vulnerable to acquire depression. Those who have been subject to abuse, significant losses in life or other highly stressful events may become predisposed to acquire depression.

The prevalence of depression within the population around the world is 3.8%. When distributed according to age and sex, it shows that 5% of adults suffer from depression. This rate includes 4% for men and 6% for women.

Anxiety: People with anxiety disorders feel a higher degree of intensity and excessiveness in fear and worry. The latter emotions can be accompanied by physical tension as well as an array of behavioral and cognitive symptoms. Anxiety disorders exceed the limits of occasional fretting, causing a serious disruption to everyday life. Approximately 4% of people throughout the world experience anxiety disorders.

The WHO emphasizes that every person has a right to work, and all workers have a right to an environment within the workplace which is safe and healthy. Work may act as a protective factor for mental health but also contribute towards exacerbation of causes that affect mental health issues. The good news is that any adverse conditions related to mental health at work are preventable, and there is much that one can do in order to safeguard and promote mental health at work.

World Mental Health Calendar

A World Mental Health Calendar is such a wonderful resource that people can utilize in continually promoting mental health awareness. In the calendar, there are activities that individuals as well as organizations can take up to create awareness for various mental health initiatives around the world throughout the year.

mental health calender

How to improve mental health in the workplace

Improving mental well-being at the workplace is essential, given that most employees spend long hours in their places of work. The following are six fundamental strategies to improve mental health at a place of work:

Open communication: Promote an environment where individuals can freely speak about mental issues without being stigmatized or victimized.

Work-Life balance: Allow and encourage employees to set clear boundaries between their work life and personal life so that they have adequate time for rest or self-care as well.

Access to resources: Give access to Employee Assistance Programs (EAP), mental health support apps, counseling services, as well as educational resources.

Recognition and Rewards: Make sure to recognize and reward employee contributions towards the organization that will boost morale and enhance job satisfaction.

Inclusive Culture: Foster an inclusive, diverse and supportive culture where every member feels valued as well as respected.

Recognition and Rewards: Make sure to recognize and reward employee contributions towards the organization that will boost morale and enhance job satisfaction.

Stress management: Carry out stress management workshops, training, or tools that will enable employees to deal with or manage stress associated with the workplace.

Identifying Employee Mental Health Conditions

Identifying and addressing employee mental health conditions is  important in the modern-day world. Mental illness can cause employees to lose productivity, be absent from work or result in presenteeism (physical presence but lack of engagement). Identifying and addressing such issues promptly will get such employees back on their productive path. Active attention paid by organizations to mental health sends out a strong message that they care about their employees. This contributes towards positive workplace culture and inclusiveness where employees feel cared for and supported.

How to Identify Employee Mental Health Conditions:

Follow these steps to identify which employees might need help with mental health challenges.

Regular Catchups: For any organization, the well-being of its employees should be amongst top priorities. Regular check-ins with employees will help in understanding their emotional quotient. These regular check-ins can be handled via one-on-one meetings between an employee and his reporting manager or HR personnel. The point here is that organizations need to create an environment wherein employees feel like sharing their worries. This not only aids in early detection but also helps build a caring culture as well.

Encourage Self-Assessment: Empowering employees to self-assess and report mental health concerns is vital. Many times, people would not like to speak about their mental health for fear of stigmatization or they are afraid that it may be taken as a complaint with repercussions. By encouraging the practice of self-assessment, you give them an opportunity to lay bare their feelings and seek help wherever necessary. This can be conducted through anonymous surveys, mental health self-assessment tools, or open avenues for feedback and communication.

Confidentiality and Privacy: Making it a safe, confidential space for airing mental health issues is of utmost importance. Employees need to be certain that whatever they disclose will remain private. HR departments ought to create very explicit procedures on how management should handle such highly sensitive information regarding mental health and ensure only those who need to know are brought into the loop. This trust motivates employees to seek help without feeling intimidated or scared in any way.

Training for Supervisors and HR Personnel: Training supervisors as well as the HR personnel helps build awareness about mental health. It also empowers them with information to notice when an employee could be in mental distress by simply recognizing signs of the same. Such may include erratic change in behavior, mood swings, poor performance at work, or withdrawal from social interaction. The training should help create a secure space where employees can feel free enough to discuss their condition without any fear of retribution from their peers.

Cost effective ways for small business to support mental health at workplace

Small businesses usually operate on tight budgets. These are companies without vast financial resources like huge corporations; thus, they need to be economical and cost-effective in the use of their money. Cost-effectiveness is necessary to ensure that mental health support does not appear as an economic burden for small businesses.

Morale and job satisfaction are directly linked with employee well-being. In a small business where every single role played by employees can affect operations on a daily basis, it is important to maintain a healthy and motivated workforce. Such a provision has to be within manageable limits without breaking the bank through cost-effective methods.

Here are a few cost-effective measures small businesses can undertake to elevate mental health at workplace:

Pet-Friendly Policies: This could possibly be an added advantage towards creating an amicable working environment by allowing employees to bring pets to work. Pet-related interactions have been known to lower stress levels and increase happiness quotients, morale, and even foster more social contact among the workforce. Their conversations are focused on what they like best about their furry friends.

Mental Health Resource Library: A mental health-based library allows employees to access varying resources and information they need in relation to mental health. By allowing the employees to take such materials home, encourages self-help, learning and knowledge on several elements related to mental health. This may serve as a quiet retreat for any employee who requires education or support.

Storytelling Sessions: Inspiring others to tell their stories on how they navigate personal mental health experiences creates empathy and awareness that, in turn, reduces stigma. Sharing the journey of personal struggle can humanize the experience of those who suffer while also helping to create a sense of community amongst people who might otherwise feel unheard or misrepresented. Such sessions encourage employees as they listen to other stories that have had similar roadblocks in the journey.

Employee-Led Workshops: When employees lead workshops on things they love, it provides an opportunity to express their interests and simultaneously gives a chance for others to learn out of their expertise. These can be in the form of mindfulness, stress reduction techniques or some other hobbies that promote well-being and wellness. They build up a learning culture.

Outdoor Meetings: Outdoor meetings leave one with refreshed minds amidst nature instead of being confined by four walls in office space. It revives our brain with fresh air and brings in focus, creativity and harmony. Having meetings outdoors are very helpful for brainstorming sessions or team-building activities.

Creating a Mental Health Policy at Workplace

Developing a policy on mental health in the workplace is of critical importance as it acknowledges the profound effect that mental well-being has on employees, and by extension to the organization at large. To start with, this demonstrates an organization’s commitment to holistic health for its workforce by acknowledging that mental health is as essential as physical health for every employee.

In addition, a mental health policy will ensure an organized way of successfully addressing issues to do with mental health. It outlines the organizations’ responsibilities and employees’ rights by making sure that every person involved is aware of their specific roles in improving mental well-being. By developing such policies, organizations are able to be on the right side of the law since it mitigates legal risks associated with problems related to workplace mental health.

Ways to celebrate Mental Health Day

Celebrating World Mental Health Day not only raises awareness but also spreads mental well-being and support across the workspace. Here’s how various ways to celebrate aid this noble cause:

celebrating mental health day

Well-being Workshops

Organizing well-being workshops on World Mental Health Day provides employees with hands-on tools and learnings they can use in their day-to-day lives for better mental health outcomes. These include stress management, mindfulness techniques, resilience building, and so on. While attending these sessions, employees come out with key skills that may be applied in real life – thus reducing stress levels and giving them an overall sense of well-being.

Book Clubs

Establishing a mental health book club can promote reading and facilitate discussions regarding mental health issues. Books written on the subject can provide insight, increase empathy, eliminate stigma, and act as conversation starters among employees. It is an interactive way of spreading awareness and creating communication hubs.

Well-being Challenges

Running well-being challenges for World Mental Health Day can encourage employees to initiate activities that benefit their mental health. The challenges may include fitness objectives, managing stress strategies, or gratitude rituals. By taking part in these activities, not only do employees focus on themselves but also develop a sense of belongingness and support amongst colleagues.

Positive Affirmations Wall

Develop a wall for positive affirmations that employees can use to put up constructive messages and thoughts to help them keep inspired, encouraged, and enthusiastic. Constructive affirmation is an empowering tool that helps individuals to have a healthier, optimistic approach.

Common Mental Health Initiatives by a few tech giants

The major tech giants, earlier referred to as FAANG (Facebook (now known as Meta), Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Google), have understood the importance of focusing on mental health at workplace and made earnest efforts to bridge this important facet of employee well-being. Their initiatives with regard to addressing the matter of mental health are as listed below:

Meta:

Meta wants to encourage good mental health among its employees. It has provided a number of apps and counseling services for the same. These tools that can be easily accessed. Counselors can guide individuals in managing stress, anxiety and other such areas relating to their mental health struggles through the app. With this provision, Meta hopes that it will be in a position to offer an environment where employees could get help and find resources to enhance their mental health as and when required.

Apple:

Apple gives strong emphasis on benefits and resources related to mental health for its workforce. The company is providing comprehensive mental health benefits in the form of Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs). EAP provides employees confidential counseling as well as support services helping them cope up with any personal as well as workplace challenges experienced by them.

Amazon:

Amazon realizes that stress reduction and mental health support are important issues. The company has stress reduction programs in place for employees designed to help them cope with the demands of their job. Additionally, flexible work arrangements might provide a greater work-life balance associated with good mental health. These efforts target lower workplace stresses and improve the overall mental well-being of an employee.

Netflix:

Netflix upholds the value of work-life balance and supports talking openly about mental health. They understand that many things employees experience might be stressful for them at their workplace. By doing so, they can create an environment where people are not scared to speak openly about their condition in terms of mental health.

Google:

Google is famous for mindfulness and mental wellness. It offers programs that are comprised of mind engagement practices, stress reduction approaches as well as awareness of its employees’ status on matters related to their state of the mind. Google also avails the employees with mental health resources such as counseling services, information materials, and support networks. Such activities are geared towards assisting the workforce manage pressure while improving their states of mind.

Bottom-line:

World Mental Health Day, celebrated yearly on 10 October, bears an important reminder of the critical essence that mental health bears in our lives. It’s a day to encourage individual dialogues, communities and workplaces coming together on this issue while giving it prominence just like physical well-being. By appreciating the magnitude of impact that mental health conditions have, we need to understand that they not only affect individuals but extend across families, communities and society at large. Such awareness spurs us into action to provide support for those dealing with mental health challenges, reducing stigma on these issues while cultivating a culture where everyone knows how to offer help and assistance.

By recognizing the importance of mental health and committing ourselves to celebrate it, we can together strive towards a world where mental well-being is embraced and threaded through our everyday lives rather than being locked into one day. With awareness, support, availability of resources and help at hand we can create an environment whereby people are encouraged and rewarded for taking responsibility themselves for their own mental wellness and whereby workplaces or communities encourage an atmosphere that supports and encourages such mental well-being throughout the year.

FAQ:

1. When is World Mental Health Day celebrated?

World Mental Health Day is celebrated on October 10 each year.

2. How can the workplace support someone who is struggling with their mental health?

The workplace can support individuals by fostering an open and non-judgmental environment, providing access to mental health resources, and offering flexible accommodations when necessary.

3. What are some workplace initiatives to promote mental health year-round?

Workplace initiatives include mental health training, stress reduction programs, employee assistance programs (EAPs), regular check-ins with employees, and promoting a culture of inclusivity and support.

4. What should HR do if they suspect an employee is struggling with mental health issues?

HR should approach the situation with empathy, maintain confidentiality, offer support, and provide access to mental health resources.

5. How can remote work impact employees’ mental health, and what can HR do about it?

Remote work can lead to feelings of isolation and increased stress. HR can address this by promoting virtual social interactions, providing mental health resources, and encouraging work-life balance.

6. Are there any cost-effective ways for small businesses 2 support mental health in the workplace?

Yes, small businesses can support mental health through flexible work schedules, resource sharing, regular check-ins, and promoting physical activity.

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    Meet the author

    Bhagyashree

    Content Writer

    Bhagyashree Shreenath is a full-time Content Writer at Keka Technologies. She is very passionate about writing and loves to write about the gaps in organization & human resource management strategies to handle the related concerns. When she isn’t writing, you will find her reading a book, or exploring new places.

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