• Maud Vanhoutte

Why is mental health as important as performance?

Why is mental health as important as performance?

While many companies are still only focusing on performance, more and more organisations are investing in mental health in the workplace. Apart from the legal obligation in place in many countries, caring for employees’ mental health reveals to be as effective as constant pressure around performance and productivity. Today’s talents want to work for an organisation that respects them, their rights, and care for their mental health and level of happiness at work.

In addition to the absence of mental illness – also called mental health disorders -, mental health is the way we think and feel and our ability to deal with challenging people and situations. “Globally, an estimated 264 million people suffer from depression, one of the leading causes of disability, with many of these people also suffering from symptoms of anxiety.”* Such concerning figures are making mental health everyone’s concern.

* Information provided by the WHO World Health Organization from a WHO-led study: “Mental health in the workplace information sheet, May 2019”.

How is mental health impacting performance at work?

Mental health disorders are affecting our mood, thinking and behaviour; thus, it is impacting our individual and team performance, along with our learning capacities. Some examples of mental illness include depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, eating disorders and addictive behaviours.

While this article tackles mental health at work, it is essential to remember that mental illnesses find their roots in all aspects of our life. The four most common professional causes leading to mental disorders are:

1. Work pressure,

2. Work-related harassment and/or bullying,

3. Exposure to workplace violence,

4. And other mental stress.

When should you be concerned about your mental health?

One can spot the signs of mental illness to try to anticipate and prevent any lasting negative effect. It is essential to stay connected to personal emotions to react as quickly as possible. When feeling down, you can ask yourself the following questions to better assess your situation.

v Do you feel less motivated in the morning?

v Do you feel negative, tired, overwhelmed or highly stressed out?

v Are you unusually emotional, reactive or even aggressive?

v Are you isolating yourself and avoiding social gathering?

v Do you find it more challenging to welcome criticism and feedback?

v Do you tend to drink more alcohol or take illegal drugs?

v Do you have highly negative thoughts, including suicide thoughts?

If you answered yes to at least one question above, it is time to focus on your mental health and to take any necessary action. Keep reading to find hands-on techniques and methods in this article.

How to support your mental health? Discover 7 keys to approach your mental health.

1. Stay away from people and situations generating a high level of stress or anxiety.

Some people and situations are triggering your stress and anxiety, leading you to a state of depression. Identify those people and situations to move away from those and protect your mental health.

2. Speak up and share your struggle.

You do not need to navigate the rough time by yourself. Find the right person(s) or organisation to assist you and confide in them. There is no wrong question or answer when it comes to mental health.

3. Become a positive thinker.

As we can’t be both positive and negative at the same time, decide to opt for positive thinking by developing the positive aspects of your work and your strengths. Rewired your brain and learn to banish negativity to develop positive thinking habits.

4. Develop your happiness initiatives.

Find out what is making you happy and engage in those activities more often. By developing opportunities to feel motivated, engaged, and happy, you are reducing your anxiety and already fighting depression more easily.

5. Grow your self-awareness.

Observe the reality you are building and learn to recognise what is helpful versus what is a risk to your mental health. The more self-awareness you get, the easier it becomes to make good decisions. Remember, what is working for someone else might not be what is working for you; you need to find your own tricks. Monitor your stress level, pay attention to your thoughts and emotions and readjust the situation sooner than later.

6. Develop your emotional intelligence.

Start becoming aware of your tendency to avoid negative emotions and start welcoming them. You do not need to understand nor select the right words to describe your emotion, you only need to feel and welcome it. Your emotion is like a messenger with an important piece of information to deliver to you, open the door and take the message!

7. Find your own way to release anger.

Welcoming your emotions is a good start but will not be enough to release the pressure and prevent mental disorders. If you are filled with anger, frustration, or any other negative emotion, you need to find your way to release those negative feelings. Physical and manual activities often help with this concern, try different things and select what works for you.

Final note:

Struggling with mental disorders is never easy for anybody and it is everyone’s concern to care for mental health in the community, regardless of cause. If you notice someone in trouble with mental health, or, if you are worried about someone you know, it is always right to check in and ensure that they are ok. In Australia, Gavin Larkin founded a non-profit suicide prevention organisation called “R U OK?” This initiative has been successfully welcomed in the professional environment to encourage employees and employers to open a conversation starting with “Are you ok?” By simply asking others if they are okay, we are showing that we care and we are offering a chance to talk about what trouble them.