This informal CPD article ‘Addressing mental health in the workplace’ was provided by Product Marketing Alliance, a company founded in 2019 with a mission of uniting product marketers across the globe.
Mental health is a buzzword. It pops up often, but unless you’ve personally dealt with it, you might not understand what handling it entails. And as business professionals continue to push themselves to excellence, the toll it can have on their mental health can be detrimental. More importantly, the toll can seem invisible if you don’t know the signs to address it.
In 2024, it’s time to destigmatize mental health in the business sphere. We want people to focus on their mental well-being, create a solid work-life balance, and progress in their careers without sacrificing themselves along the way.
But this raises the question, what does addressing mental health look like, and how can the workplace support those who need it?
What is mental health?
Mental health is the state of focusing on your mental wellness in order to address the challenges of life, deal with stress, embrace your abilities, sense of self, and community. It’s about creating a sense of peace emotionally and psychologically and is a fundamental human right.
Mental health is also deeply complex, and so many factors play into it. It would be impossible to address them all. But for the sake of this article, we’ll keep focus on the workplace and how that can affect someone’s well-being.
Mental health in the workplace
Working as a professional can be both liberating and daunting. You have many responsibilities, might even be in charge of other people, and have products that rely on your leadership for success. This can create intense pressure, and your mental health can significantly impact how you handle that pressure.
Often, this pressure can show up as anxiety, depression, or maybe even panic attacks. Some people might emotionally shut down, while others become reactive. Stress throws off people’s parasympathetic nervous system, tossing them into one of four states: fight, flight, fawn, or freeze. Some might even be a combination of the four. Remaining in these states for long periods of time can lead to physical systems as much as emotional turmoil.
So, what are workplaces doing to address these issues?
There has been a positive turn in this direction. Where once companies only offered medical benefits for an employee's physical health, now there are more options for mental health. This is largely due to the destigmatization of mental health in society. We are slowly turning away from hiding our distress. The shame is no longer so prevalent that we can’t ask for help and admit we’re suffering. It’s been a long journey to get here, and there is still so much further to go, but progress and conversations are happening.