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Workplace Mental Health

Working can help with mental health

Nearly 60% of people on earth are employed. Every employee has a right to a secure and healthy workplace. Good mental health is supported by decent job since it: among many other advantages, a job provides a living, a sense of assurance, purpose, and accomplishment, a chance for wholesome relationships and community involvement, and a framework for routines.

A solid job can help persons with mental illnesses rehabilitate, become more included in society, and enhance their social and confidence skills.

In addition to being a fundamental right, safe and healthy working environments are also more likely to reduce stress and disputes at work, boost employee retention, and increase performance and productivity. Conversely, a person's capacity to enjoy their work and perform their job well can be harmed by a lack of effective structures and support at work, particularly for those who live with mental health conditions. It can also undermine people's attendance at work and even prevent them from obtaining a job in the first place.


Workplace hazards for mental health

Hazards to mental health at work, also known as psychosocial risks, may be connected to employment duties or schedules, unique aspects of the workplace, or chances for professional advancement, among other factors.

Workplace hazards for mental health might include:

Lack of control over job design or workload; unsafe or unhealthy physical working conditions; organizational culture that encourages negative behaviors; limited support from coworkers or authoritarian supervision; underuse of skills or being underskilled for the job; excessive workloads or work pace; understaffing; long, unsocial, or rigid hours; unclear job role; under- or overpromotion; job insecurity.

In the informal economy, where there is no legislative protection for health and safety, more than half of the world's labor is employed (2). These people frequently labor in hazardous conditions, put in long hours, lack access to social or financial safeguards, and experience discrimination, all of which can be detrimental to mental health.

Although psychosocial hazards exist in every industry, certain employees are more likely to be exposed to them than others due to their jobs or the environment in which they work. Workers in the health, humanitarian, or emergency sectors frequently have professions that pose a high risk of exposure to unfavorable situations, which can be detrimental to mental health.

Risks associated with economic downturns or humanitarian or public health situations include job loss, financial instability, fewer work prospects, or an increase in unemployment.

Workplace discrimination and inequality based on traits including color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, socioeconomic background, immigration status, religion, or age can have a severe impact on mental health.

People with serious mental illnesses are more likely to be denied employment opportunities and, if they are employed, are more likely to encounter discrimination at work. A risk to mental health also exists when one is unemployed. Suicide attempt risk factors include unemployment, financial hardship, unstable employment, and recent job loss.

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Workplace mental health initiatives

The following steps may be taken by the government, businesses, unions that represent both employees and employers, and other parties involved in worker health and safety to promote mental health at work:

Prevent the dangers to mental health at work; safeguard and promote mental health at work; assist employees with mental health disorders to participate and succeed in the workplace; and foster an atmosphere that is conducive to change.
Workers, their representatives, and those who have firsthand experience with mental health disorders should be meaningfully included in any action taken to address mental health at work.

Prevent mental health problems at work

Managing psychosocial hazards at work is key to preventing mental health issues at work. Employers are advised to carry out organizational initiatives that specifically target working conditions and settings by WHO. Organizational interventions are those that evaluate workplace hazards to mental health, minimize, change, or eliminate such risks. Organizational interventions might take the form of flexible work schedules or the implementation of policies to address workplace violence and harassment.

Safeguarding and fostering mental health at work

Strengthening abilities to detect and address mental health disorders at work, particularly for those who are in charge of overseeing others, like managers, is a key component of protecting and promoting mental health at work.
WHO suggests the following to safeguard mental health:

Employee training in mental health literacy and awareness, to improve understanding of mental health and lessen stigma associated with mental health conditions at work, manager training for mental health, which enables managers to identify and respond to supervisees who are experiencing emotional distress, builds interpersonal skills like open communication and active listening, and interventions.

Encourage those with mental health issues to work and succeed there

People who have mental health disorders have a right to an equitable and full participation in the workforce. An international agreement for advancing the rights of individuals with disabilities (including psychological impairments), especially at work, is provided by the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. WHO suggests the following three strategies to help those with mental health issues find, keep, and engage in employment:

Workplaces with reasonable accommodations can be tailored to the abilities, requirements, and preferences of employees with mental health conditions. Giving specific employees flexible work schedules, more time to finish tasks, stress-reducing modifications to assignments, time off for medical visits, or routinely encouraging meetings with managers are a few examples.
To assist workers in meaningfully returning to work following an absence caused by a mental health problem, while simultaneously lowering mental health symptoms, return-to-work programs combine job-directed care (such as reasonable accommodations or phased re-entry to work) with ongoing clinical care.
Initiatives for supported employment assist persons with serious mental illnesses find paid job and keep it by continuing to offer mental health and vocational support.

Establish a supportive atmosphere for change

By fostering a change-friendly atmosphere, both governments and employers, in collaboration with other stakeholders, may aid in enhancing mental health at work. In actuality, this means boosting:

Leadership and dedication to workplace mental health, for instance through including workplace mental health into pertinent policies.

The allocation of enough funding and resources, such as by creating budgets specifically for initiatives to enhance workplace mental health and making mental health and employment services available to businesses with limited resources.

Rights to participate in the workforce, for instance through enacting anti-discrimination policies at work and matching employment laws and regulations with international human rights agreements.

Integration of mental health at work across all industries, such as by including it into the current systems for workplace safety and health.
The involvement of employees in the decision-making process, for instance by having timely and meaningful meetings with employees, their representatives, and those who have firsthand experience with mental health disorders.
Evidence on psychosocial hazards and the efficacy of interventions, such as ensuring that all recommendations and actions for mental health at work are supported by the most recent research.
Adherence to laws, rules, and recommendations, for instance by include mental health in the duties of national labor inspectorates and other compliance mechanisms.

© 2022 Christian Daniel

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