Mental Health Is Not A Dirty Word – Let’s Stop Ignoring It At Work

People desire to work in a safe and protected atmosphere. Here’s why mental health and wellness should be a priority for your business.


Photo: TJ Scimone, founder and CEO of Slice, Inc.
Photo: TJ Scimone, founder and CEO of Slice, Inc.

It’s crucial to focus on the physical well-being of your team. Yet it is equally necessary to prioritize the mental and emotional well-being of those within your organization.

Workplace safety is essential for every employee. It is a company’s duty and moral responsibility to look after their employee’s protection. Employees who are both physically and psychologically healthy are less hazardous to themselves and those they interact with daily.

People desire to work in a safe and protected atmosphere. Here’s why mental health and wellness should be a priority for your business.

 

Thoughts dictate actions in the workplace

There is a well-known proverb that states:

“Be careful of your thoughts, for your thoughts become your words. Be careful of your words, for your words become your actions. Be careful of your actions, for your actions become your habits. Be careful of your habits, for your habits become your character. Be careful of your character, for your character becomes your destiny.”

For our purposes, let’s focus on the following statement:

“Be careful of your thoughts, for your thoughts become your words. Be careful of your words, for your words become your actions.”

While your employees need to know how to safely conduct themselves at the office, addressing their thoughts—which are directly linked to their mental and emotional state—gets to the root of things.

An employee who knows all the right things to do but is in a poor mental state will not think clearly. Unclear or negative thoughts lead to unsafe and unwise actions.

 

Cultivating mental and emotional wellness within the workplace

You don’t have to rely on the words of a proverb to prove that thoughts, or one’s psychological state, dictate behavior: statics bear this out.

Photo: Brooke Cagle, Unsplash
Photo: Brooke Cagle, YFS Magazine

Those among us who struggle with mental health are desperate for authenticity. So how do we facilitate honesty and wellness in the workplace?

Stress, distraction, and mental fatigue are the leading causes of workplace injuries. Workplace violence ranks high, too, and violence is a direct result of anger. Substance abuse is regularly linked to emotional issues. It certainly doesn’t need to be emphasized that using banned substances at work is a huge safety hazard.

Given the strong correlation between mental and physical well-being, one might argue they should be addressed in equal measure. As you create a workplace safety plan, consider the following safety moment topics to get started on your journey to a happier and healthier workplace.

  • Breathing exercises –– “Controlled breathing not only keeps your mind and body functioning at their best, it can also lower blood pressure, promote feelings of calm and relaxation, and help you de-stress.”
  • Meditation –– As entrepreneur Paul Davidescu explains, “Meditating only 10 minutes a day has been a pivotal practice to stay creative, keep other people’s best interests at heart and keep my mind in a positive and rational state despite the constant setbacks the entrepreneurial journey throws your way.”
  • Visualization –– “Sport psychologists and high-performance athletes use visualization to achieve their goals. So why shouldn’t you?”

 

How to approach divisive topics in the workplace

Reality check: Everyone on your team won’t be on board with your focus on their emotional and mental health, no matter how convincingly you present the topics and their impact on workplace safety.

Photo: Brooke Cagle, Unsplash
Photo: Brooke Cagle, YFS Magazine

Discussing emotional and mental health makes people feel vulnerable. Those who aren’t comfortable with being vulnerable, even though vulnerability has been shown to increase workplace safety, are likely to fight back.

One way to cultivate a workplace of wellness is to bring in mental health professionals. Provide a workspace for a licensed therapist and allow them to work rent-free from your space in exchange for offering monthly therapy sessions for your staff and reduced therapy for employees in need.

Some people may see practices like meditation or breathing exercises as a waste of time or new-age nonsense. With this in mind, your approach will determine the difference between the success and failure of your efforts.

 

1. Know your audience

If you sense pushback, acknowledge it and take things slow. Break down these topics into easily digestible chunks, making sure to share both the why and the how for each recommendation.

First-person accounts are powerful. Locate someone who uses meditation to manage anger issues or someone who uses breathing techniques to release stress. Ask them to share their story and techniques.

Create an inter-office communication platform that allows easy access to free meditation apps, guided visualization, or demonstrated breathing exercises.

 

2. Include funny examples during meetings

While humor may seem incongruous with serious practices, like meditation, that doesn’t need to be the case. Adding levity is a good way to get people to relax and try something new. Laughter also contributes to bonding.

Imagine if you could get everyone on your team to try the “Lion’s Breath” breathing exercise, to help release tension. As effective as it is, no one can deny it creates a funny face (and perhaps some laughter).

 

3. Coordinate topics with specific times of the year

Mental wellness is a notable topic during the Fall and Winter seasons. During this time of year, the days get shorter and the weather is typically colder. This can lead to feelings of depression and lethargy. The holidays can also bring up a lot of mental and emotional stressors.

Providing your team tips on how to use quick meditation to restore personal calm amid family drama may prove very useful. This could also create opportunities for employees to share their experiences with others on the team.

 

Introducing new health and wellness ideas and practices in the workplace can be challenging, especially when those methods make people feel vulnerable. However, it’s important to acknowledge that psychological health is a critical factor in workplace safety.

Lead by example.

 

TJ Scimone founded Slice, Inc. in 2008. Since 2008 he’s made safety his top priority, creating a unique line of safer cutting tools that feature finger-friendly® blades, including box cutters and utility knives.

 

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