Transforming work environments to promote and protect mental health – Low Calorie Diets Tips

Workplaces can be both opportunities and threats to mental health. On the one hand, workplaces that promote good mental health and reduce work stress not only improve mental and physical health, but are also likely to reduce absenteeism, improve job performance and productivity, increase employee morale and motivation, and minimize tension and conflict between colleagues. Therefore, measures to protect and promote mental health in the workplace can be cost-effective.

On the other hand, unemployment, discrimination in getting or doing work, and poor working conditions can all be a source of excessive stress and increase the risk of developing new mental illnesses or making existing ones worse. Such negative work environments and experiences are the complete opposite of what employees need to do their jobs.

A toxic work environment

“I loved my job, but I started to hate it because I was working in a toxic environment,” says Larry White in Canada. “A tedious and awkward affair at work sent my mind into panic attacks, anxiety and depression. My doctor said I had moderate to severe depression. I was unable to work for days [at a time].”

Mental health risks at work can be related to, among other things, the type of work performed, the physical, social or cultural characteristics of the workplace, or career opportunities. High job demands, low job control, job insecurity, low relationship and procedural fairness, bullying, and low social support at work are associated with a greater likelihood of developing mental health problems.

“Organizational changes made while I was away made me dread my weekly work meetings,” explains Larry. “I felt like a target. My normal duties have been eroded and the authority of my role has been reduced without consultation,” he says. “It made me sick just thinking about it. I felt like a target.”

Employers and governments have a responsibility to promote and protect the mental health of everyone in the workplace. However, work-related mental health promotion and prevention programs were among the least common of countries (35%) in the 2020 Mental Health Atlas. When Larry asked his professional association and human resources for help, no action was taken to support him.

Angered, cornered and unable to work, Larry resigned. “After retiring, my personal feelings have oscillated chaotically between anguish, loss of control, isolation, fear, sadness, intimidation, disbelief, frustration, disappointment, extreme worry, anger, and occasionally relief,” says Larry.

Job loss is a known risk factor for mental health problems and suicide attempts. But also bad working conditions. It can be a difficult decision. “I still lack the happiness, optimism, and trust in others that used to define me,” says Larry. But he doesn’t regret it. “I have chosen to put my sanity and sanity first. In the end I learned a lot about myself and what is important to me. This opportunity for self-reflection is the unseen benefit.”

Promotion and protection of mental health in the workplace

A variety of labor laws and regulations, nationally and internationally, can be used to create an enabling environment to protect the mental health of workers. This includes regulations on health and safety, violence and harassment, as well as laws and policies on minimum wage, equality, health, safety, parental leave and flexible working.

In 2022, WHO will publish the first-ever global guidelines on mental health and work, providing reflections on how to ensure safe, supportive and decent work conditions that promote and protect mental health. The new guidelines identify three types of strategies.

  • Organizational interventions are reshaping working conditions, for example by providing flexible working arrangements, promoting a healthy work-life balance and reducing workplace stigma.
  • Mental health training for managers strengthens the knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviors of managers so that they can better support the mental health needs of their employees.
  • Interventions for workers increase individual coping capacities and may include stress management training and strategies to encourage leisure-based physical activity.

There is still much to learn about what works and for whom when it comes to mental health support in the workplace. But in all cases, promoting and protecting mental health in the workplace remains a key strategy in transforming mental health for all.

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