Creating a Mentally Healthy Work Environment
Sixth blog post presenting the Outreachy project on Mental Health
Creating a mentally healthy environment needs an integrated approach. According to LaMontagne et al. (2014), an optimal and integrated system would include
- Protecting mental health: This focuses on preventing mental health issues by lessening risk factors.
- Promoting mental health: This focuses on improving positive mental health by increasing the positive aspect of work and other life factors.
- Providing support for mental health problems: This focuses on managing mental health problems by providing the necessary resources and support.
What are some actions that could be taken?
There are many ways to create a mentally healthy environment. Some of the main ways can be, but are not limited to:
Raising awareness: Openly communicate, address, and educate about mental health and mental illness. Discuss issues related to mental health, such as stress, depression, and anxiety, as well as techniques to improve and promote mental health. Raising awareness will help reduce stigma and misconceptions related to mental illness.
Encouraging work-life balance: A crucial component of positive mental health is work-life balance. Individuals who don't maintain a good work-life balance are more likely to experience decreased productivity and burnout. Encourage taking breaks.
Providing mental health training: Incorporate mental health training in any community training program. Providing training will equip the community with the proper knowledge, skills, and resources to create a mentally healthy environment. The training will help individuals identify or recognize symptoms of mental illness, learn how to support someone with mental illness, learn how to promote positive mental health, and learn how to achieve a work-life balance. Check out this mental health first aid training reference guide to learn more.
Encouraging peer-to-peer support: This would enable individuals to support each other and provide a safe environment for someone to address any concerns they may have regarding their mental health. It can also be a place to share tips and resources.
Encouraging involvement: Encourage a welcoming environment where individuals can share ideas, make suggestions, and participate in decisions that affect their work. Give individuals the freedom to decide on their work pace, create resources, and make mentorship opportunities available for support.
Providing resources: Create mental health resources that anyone can easily access. Many resources are available, such as hotlines, online and offline support communities, professional support, guides, books, and applications. Check out this resource list to learn more about providing resources.
LaMontagne, A. D., Martin, A., Page, K. M., Reavley, N. J., Noblet, A. J., Milner, A. J., ... & Smith, P. M. (2014). Workplace mental health: developing an integrated intervention approach. BMC psychiatry, 14(1), 1-11. https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-244X-14-131.