From the barracks to the office – Mental health widespread in workforce

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While there is a near-constant focus on physical health issues and illnesses, mental health is often designated to the back seat and given less acknowledgement and attention than other health concerns. Despite this realisation, mental health is no less important than physical health. In fact, poor mental health is something that should be widely acknowledged, actively treated, and openly spoken about. Regardless of if it is the mental health of a member of the armed forces experiencing and searching for a cure for PTSD, or a high school student suffering from bullying at school wanting to talk to a professional, mental health of all individuals is something to be taken extremely seriously. This is especially true when one considers the workplace of the average adult.

In a world where so much of our lives is spent at work, earning a living and providing for ourselves and/or our families, we are naturally going to sometimes find it difficult to draw the line in sand between work life and home life. Bringing issues in to work and vice versa is more common than one might think, and it is not at all something that can always be helped. What can be helped, however, is the way that employers, workplaces, and fellow employees react and respond to these unintentional mishaps in professional behaviour. We are human, after all, so it stands to reason that we will have moments of human weakness – especially in the environments we spend so much of our time in.

No matter if you work in the army or at a desk job, it is entirely normal to have mental health struggles. In the workforce, poor mental health is a widespread global epidemic, with 48% of employees surveyed stating that they have experienced mental health issues at their current position. The survey in question noted more than 44,000 employees, and speaks volumes of the concerns around mental health in the workforce. Mental health in the workplace is too often swept under the rug, pushed to the side, or judged harshly by those outside the issue at hand. For those who have internal struggles, simply knowing that they are working in a place that supports them and will provide the necessary outlets for assistance, makes the world of difference. Shockingly, however, there are many workplaces that do not make it a priority to openly express their alignment with services that aim to assist with mental health issues.

Having a supportive environment and an open network in the workplace can mean the difference between an employee having the necessary support network at work to find themselves on the path to the return of their health and wellness, and that same employee going to extremes to cope with their mental ailment. Having the fundamental foresight and understanding of mental health in general is critically important in this day and age. If someone in the workplace suffers a physical health issue, there is nearly always someone trained to treat it, or at the very least apt services nearby that can immediately be on their way to address the issue at hand. Mental health is not so easy to comprehend, and it is not possible to train employees in CPR and expect it to have a positive impact on a mental health issue. More than understanding how to deal with it though, is understanding mental health at its foundations in the first place – including how not to react to situations surrounding mental health.

The stigmas surrounding mental health issues are not only outdated but are blatantly offensive. Mental health issues can be based on anything, from depression and feelings of increased anxiety, to the depletion of an individual’s personal sense of self and feeling of belonging in the world around them. Mental health concerns and issues are often viewed as signs of weakness or manageable imbalance, and the unfortunate reality is that not only is this not a true representation of mental health, but mental health disorders often have a more tangible, lasting impact than physical health setbacks. When an individual in the workplace (or anywhere in life, for that matter) is suffering from poor mental health, having those around them attempt to dehumanise them or minimize the issue at hand is not only hurtful but potentially is incredibly damaging, even fatal.

Mental health issues, no matter the capacity or severity, must be acknowledged and treated accordingly. An individual that suffers with their mental health is often in a place of immense pain, darkness, and anxiety. Mental health is just as important as physical health, and it is about high time that we as a society not only acknowledged that fact as being fundamentally true, but did more to dissolve the stigmas, to support the suffering, and heal the broken. Mental health has been cast in the shadows of physical health issues far too long, and the time is long overdue to make amends and bring mental health to the forefront of public and professional attention.

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