Posted on: February 23, 2021 | Dr. Todd Thatcher Nearly one in five U.S. adults lives with a mental health condition, affecting both their personal and professional life. For the vast majority of people, work is a significant part of everyday life. For some, a toxic workplace contributes to diminishing mental health, whereas others deal with struggles outside of their career. These stressors impact how they perform at work. Luckily, there is help. Of the workers who receive mental health treatment, 80 percent report that their productivity and satisfaction increased. Making your mental health a top priority will allow you to reach your full potential, better cope with the everyday stresses of work, and grow — both within your career and as a person. Mental Health at Work The relationship between mental health and work is complex. For example, over 300 million people around the globe suffer from depression, which is the leading reason workers go on disability. This represents only one mental health condition and associated outcome. There are also many individualized variables to consider, including each worker’s history, home life, and personal coping skills. Some primary factors that contribute to poor mental health at work include: Lack of clarity about organizational objectives and workplace tasks Poor communication between employees and management Unsafe work environments Lack of support Inflexible scheduling While there are common variables that impact millions of workers, symptoms of poor mental health affect people differently. That’s why it’s important to understand each individual’s experience in terms of their unique stressors, individual history, underlying mental health condition and current level of support. Ideas to Improve Mental Health in the Workplace The steps you take to improve your mental health in the workplace will improve all aspects of your life. When dealing with mental health in the workplace, you need to make self-care a top priority. Consider these mental health tips for the workplace. 1. Talk About How You Feel Research shows that people struggling with their mental health often suffer in silence. However, talking about your feelings can make all the difference when aiming to take back control of your wellness. The idea here is to talk to anyone you feel comfortable approaching — a manager, a co-worker or an employee. If you are willing to talk about how you’re feeling, you may inspire others to talk about their struggles, especially if you’re a leader. If you don’t want to speak about workplace stressors with those at work, reach out to your friends and family. Learn More: How to Discuss Your Mental Health with Family 2. Stay Active Evidence continues to mount for the exercise effect. Exercise has been shown to support a wide range of mental health symptoms, particularly among those suffering from anxiety and depression. Exercise is also an effective way to break the cycle that stress creates between your body and mind. Whether you want to sleep better, achieve higher energy levels, boost your self-esteem or enhance your mood, exercise offers so many benefits. Strive to exercise 30-minutes, five times a week. Start slow and participate in activities you enjoy. 3. Change Your Diet You know what they say, “you are what you eat.” Although it’s challenging to eat well with a busy work schedule, it’s important to create new healthy eating patterns that provide your body and mind with a wide spectrum of nutrients. A report found that eight out of 10 people in the U.S. do not eat enough of the phytochemicals needed for positive health. That is why health experts recommend eating a rainbow diet. Start with a filling breakfast that’s easy to make when you’re in a hurry, like a smoothie, or make oatmeal muffins the night before. Keep it simple and portable. Salads, wraps, veggie bowls or even healthy leftovers are all great options. If you don’t have time to prep food on weeknights, prep for the week ahead on Sunday afternoons. Check out these 16 make-ahead work lunches! Snack smart with mixed nuts, sliced fruit, raw veggies, hard-boiled eggs and other whole foods. Also, make sure you’re drinking enough water. Research shows that drinking plain water is associated with a decreased risk of depression and anxiety. It is recommended that you drink half of your body weight in ounces daily. For example, if you weigh 140 pounds, you should be drinking approximately 70 ounces or 8.75 cups a day. 4. Remain Mindful of Your Drinking Habits Regular heavy drinking interferes with brain chemicals that ensure optimal mental health. This can create a vicious cycle in terms of depression, anxiety disorders, psychosis and other mental health conditions. While many individuals drink as a coping mechanism, this can lead to a substance use disorder or a dual-diagnosis. 5. Make Your Relationships a Top Priority Having a strong support system is imperative. Although you might not have a choice about who you work with, it’s important that you find even one individual or two you can confide in about your experiences at work. It’s also important to maintain work-life balance, investing in relationships outside of work. Related: The Benefits And Importance Of A Support System 6. Take a Break It’s important to destress throughout the day. Whether that means listening to a relaxing podcast on the way to work or walking through the park on your lunch break, make time for yourself. Also, don’t be afraid to take a mental health day if needed, and on those days, do something you love. Highland Springs Can Help If you are concerned about your mental health, one of the most critical steps is to ask for help. If your workplace or career has created overwhelming feelings of stress, and you’re overwhelmed, it’s critical that you take proactive action. Highland Springs offers multi-specialty, outpatient services for various conditions, including anxiety, addiction recovery, trauma, and depression. Whether you require treatment that works with your work schedule or you have decided to take a break from your career altogether, we can help. Contact our dedicated team to learn more about our behavioral health services today! Dr. Todd ThatcherDr. Thatcher, DO, CMRO, works with the Valley Behavioral Health’s Director of Nursing providing supervision and oversight of medical operations for over 70 medical staff members and medical issues in over 70 clinics and facilities in Utah, Boise Idaho, and Phoenix Arizona. His major medical initiatives include telehealth, integrated care, medication-assisted treatment, and substance abuse services, forensics services, and seamless integration of jail/prison/mental health court & drug court/probation/parole services with behavioral health and substance abuse treatment, ValleyLab blood and urine drug testing, data analytics to drive better outcomes & computerized automation of standardized measurement tools, and Brainsway Deep Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation clinic.