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Need for mental health awareness in workplace


Lanre Olusola

Mental health in the workplace is one area that is usually overlooked by a lot of employers and workers in the work environment. As adults, a large proportion of our time is spent at work and this makes our experience at the workplace predictive of our overall well being. A recently published result from The UK Workplace Wellbeing Study have found mental health to be the second biggest challenge set to face employers within the next five years after Depression. With a quarter of workplace absenteeism due to mental ill health, costing employers an estimated 26 billion Euro per year, there is no time like the present to start acknowledging the importance of employee wellbeing and the huge impact it has in running a business.

Mental health, just like physical health, is one challenge that has the potential to affect anyone, male or female, rich or poor at any place and time. In a country like Nigeria where we do not have enough statistics, the accurate measure of the negative impact of mental illness on the economy may not be available. However, employers are familiar with the costs they bear when they employ a worker using addictive substances.

Even in a workplace with the best culture, mental health problems can still arise and in this situation, employers should support their workers who seek help and not contribute to create a stigma. According to L. Casey Chosewood “It really is a win-win for the organization and the worker when you invest in the well-being of workers more comprehensively,” this is because your employee’s wellbeing and mental health can in-turn affect workforce productivity, staff turnover, reputation, customer service, absenteeism and the cost of sick days. Being unhappy and unfulfilled at work can surely take a negative toll on an employee’s health and In contrast to this, good mental health works as an asset to a business, helping employees to thrive.

There’s a recurring culture of silence across workplaces in Nigeria with not less than 35 per cent of employees not approaching anyone for support whenever they experience a mental meltdown. Millions of employees spend a large part of their day and lifetime at work and so businesses should begin to create mental health awareness and support for their employees.

There is a possibility that an employee may develop mental illness prior to employment or during employment but it is worthy to note that an unhealthy or toxic workplace incident can cause considerable amount of stress and exacerbate, or contribute to the development of mental illness. This is why it is important for all individuals in the workplace to be aware of potential contributing factors to mental health challenges.

Factors that can lead to mental health challenges in the workplace:
1. Stress, which can be as a result of heavy workload
2. Poor communication and management practices
3. Long and/or inflexible working hours
4. Lack of team Spirit
5. Workplace bullying and harassment
Signs you or someone you work with may be struggling with mental health:
1. Constant feelings of sadness or discouragement
2. Sleeping too much or not at all
3. Withdrawing from your work colleagues, friends or family
4. A decline in your work habits or performance
5. An increase in the use of alcohol, drugs or medications
6. Emotional outbursts

The Way Forward:
Businesses should educate their employees and correct first and foremost, the negative language around mental health and carefully discourage the use of words like crazy, psycho, unwell etc. making employees understand why these words are not acceptable. As an employer, Mental Health should not be frightening especially if an employee is showing signs that they are struggling mentally. Seek to have open, honest communication with that person and try to put structures in place to help them get through it, which includes taking certain steps to erase the stigma. Stigma is the biggest reason why employees who struggle with mental health don’t seek help openly.

Begin to look at implementing initiatives, crafting policies and mandates around mental health at a corporate level, availability of training resources-tech and in person, sharing and communicating these resources internally, providing management and HR required training to identify issues and handle them successfully and providing employees with self-help tools and programs. Both Leaders and employees have an equal responsibility in building and maintaining a safe work environment for all.

Cultivating resilience to mental health challenges can lead to greater confidence, autonomy and mastery, which positively impacts at home and the workplace. Learn ways to evolve and translate that personal growth to success. Sign up for our Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) Master Class, which runs from the 26th to 28th of April, 2019. For more information, kindly contact us on 08077077000 or send an email to

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