Mental Health – Transcending the Curve

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Not long ago, working from home was an effective way to promote mental health. Working from home was an in-demand advantage that improved work-life balance and reduced commute stress, helping organizations to attract and retain talent.

Now, work-from-home is just another damning reality, and the employees’ mental wellbeing is slowly becoming a priority for organizations and workplaces envisioning a rewarding work environment.

The world has experienced tremendous volatility over the last several years and with the most current situation happening with the attacks on Ukraine. We recognize this brings a great deal of uncertainty and anxiety for you, your families, colleagues, and communities worldwide. 

According to a recent survey, the impact is too severe to ignore. Nearly 70% of professional workers report that other than the Great Recession and the 9/11 terror incident, the Covid-19 pandemic and the recent attacks in Ukraine have been the most depressing moments in their professional careers.

With escalating mental health issues and dwindling motivation to work from home, here at Edafio Technology Partners, we’re taking the plunge to accommodate the challenge presented by the Covid-19 pandemic and Ukraine. We are building our knowledge and creating awareness to find the best solutions to the mounting mental health challenges that hybrid workplaces face.

Below, we thought it would be helpful to highlight ways to improve mental health in hybrid workplaces during this challenging and weighty time.

1) Understand it’s Okay Not to be Fine

It’s difficult to understand mental health in your team if the only communication is via Slack, voice, or video call. However, marked behavioral changes could be critical concern points. Perhaps someone could be late for a meeting, less engaged, missing deadlines, or switching off the camera during meetings.

Another sign of mental health issue is that the person could be neglecting their physical appearance or using more apathetic language. At Edafio, we believe it’s better to ask people if everything is okay than to wonder and assume that everything’s FINE.

Behavioral changes manifest in subtle ways. So, it’s advisable to listen to what people have to say and ask if they need help. Although mental health victims may be reluctant to offer detailed responses about deep-seated personal issues, letting them know they have your ear can make the difference.

2) Understand the Spectrum of Mental Health

Before investing resources to improve mental health in a hybrid workplace, understand that mental health issues exist on a spectrum. Everyone’s journey in mental health is different, and not all employees are affected by the same set of challenges.

Different categories of mental health can affect employees in different ways. For instance, situational stress and anxiety can spike due to work deadlines, support infrastructure, changing work roles and relationships. Temporary stress such as family illness can cause strains over extended periods and may have long-lasting implications on performance and productivity.

Permanent stress like generalized anxiety disorder is an ongoing chronic condition that affects work performance. By understanding this diverse spectrum of mental health, you can maximize your chances of understanding which particular approach to adopt.

3) Prioritize Physical Health

With rising concerns about mental health and accelerating uptake of remote work, physical health has been relegated to the back seat. Most employees are not working out like before, and fast-food chains are becoming a priority for most. Well, prevention is better than cure, and this is true for most things, mental health included.

According to Deloitte, mental health initiatives are more effective when designed to build resilience. Regular physical activity is shown to promote mental and brain health. Getting out in the open and exercising often allows air circulation and raises energy levels. It boosts cognitive functions and improves mood.

In one study, trusted sources recommended that employees do a pretend commute during lockdown to promote mental health and clearly define differences between home and work life. With remote working, it’s easy for most workers to end their day without leaving their desks or taking momentary breaks. So, make time in your schedule for exercises and fresh air.

4) Involve Leaders

Organizational leadership must reiterate mental health as a matter of urgency. According to a National Alliance on Mental Illness NAMI survey, 80% of employees say that stigma and shame prevent them from seeking mental treatment. For employees who’re concerned about losing their jobs, hearing your boss say, “We take mental health issues seriously,” is a sign it’s OKAY to seek help.

Senior and managerial leaders can communicate, record their mental health journey and share with the team via communications app. Getting leaders involved is a great way to lift the lid off this stigma and ignite conversations around mental health. Involving leaders reinforces the importance of mental wellbeing and opens discussions that lead to problem-solving opportunities.

5) Communication as a Pathway to Inclusion

Use accurate language in communication to be supportive and reduce stigma. It’s advisable to avoid using mental health conditions to describe or justify behavior, like stating, “I’m so OCD about keeping my files in check.” Using diagnostic terms loosely and inaccurately reinforces misconceptions and trivializes the experience of the actual victims.

Improving Mental Health: 3 Strategies That Are Hands-Down Helpful!

  • Communication. Unlike physical health that manifests itself in many ways, mental health issues are hidden and are ignored if not overlooked. So, find ways to create a welcoming and supportive environment for all your employees, whether in-person or virtual.
  • Individuality. Encourage individuality by emphasizing and encouraging your employees to find out what works for them. Ask your team to discover their lifestyle and use the techniques that best respond to their mental wellbeing. For instance, you can allow your employees to block off days when they won’t be interrupted by calls or chats.
  • Unplug constantly. With collaborative tools like Outlook and Teams, it’s easier for your employees to stay connected and to meet shared responsibilities. While remote connectivity is excellent for communication and collaboration, it can be detrimental to work-life balance. A 2021 Microsoft’s Ignite Digital Event showed that 71% of employees don’t fully unplug, reinforcing the importance of “shutting off the systems” for specified periods.

Edafio – Supporting and Reinforcing Mental Wellbeing

As hybrid settings phase out the traditional workplaces, employers and organizations must reconsider mental wellbeing as a priority. The pandemic has shifted gears around conventional work patterns, with social distancing acting as a measure to combat infection and spread. Unfortunately, “work-at-home” trends are compounding an already polarized situation, especially as witnessed by factors like isolation, anxiety, and situational stress.

Contact Edafio Technology to improve mental health in your hybrid workplace.

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