Mental health issues at work, Blog post

9 tips on how to cope with mental health issues at work

We all know that well-being is good for business, happy employees are more engaged and more productive. So, it’s very important to make sure mental health conditions aren’t ignored, especially at work. According to Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England stress, anxiety and depression are the biggest cause of sick leave and cost UK employers billions of pounds every year.

One in four adults in the UK experiences mental illness and many deal with it alone. Coping with these conditions at work isn’t easy. Daily stress combined with anxiety or depression creates a constant battle for those afflicted.

Having to deal with your mental health issues publicly isn’t a simple task, but there are things you can do to ease the pressure:

#1 – Organise your task list

Having a huge pile of work waiting for you can feel daunting and increase your stress levels.

Task List/Priority List

Setting aside some time to prioritise your tasks and set realistic deadlines, can give you the control you need over your day.

#2 – Take regular breaks

Sitting at your desk from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM is not healthy, but it’s easily done. Going for a walk at lunch or walking around the office can break up your day – keeping boredom and low moods away.

Plus, it’s good for your physical health too!

#3 – Don’t compare yourself to others

It can be frustrating to watch your co-workers excel without a struggle, but the truth is, we don’t know what’s going on in their heads. It’s important not to get hung up on how you measure up to someone else.

No one is perfect and all that matters is that you’re doing your best work. Dealing with extra things at the same time doesn’t mean you’re less capable.

#4 – If you feel comfortable, tell your boss

There’s no law telling you that you must tell your boss about your mental illness, it’s none of their business. Yet, if you feel comfortable doing so, telling your manager can be a good thing. It’ll allow them to learn about your triggers and recognise the areas you excel at.

In addition, some organisations encourage their employees to become mental health first aiders. These trained individuals can provide you with advice and a safe place to talk about the issues that are affecting your mental health.

#5 – Don’t be a perfectionist

It’s way too easy to be hard on yourself – especially when things aren’t working out the way you want them to. But it’s important to remember that you can’t control everything and not everything you do will be perfect.

We’re all humans, not robots and we should learn from our mistakes, but not let them define us.

#6 – Drink tea

Yes, it sounds too simple to be true – but research shows that certain types of tea, are good for your health.

Holding a cup of tea

For example, green tea contains l-theanine, which helps to increase dopamine levels in your brain and improve your mood. It’s good for your physical health too, as it contains anti-oxidants which help to prevent heart disease and diabetes.

Also, walking away from your desk to make tea can provide you with the perfect break away from your screen.

#7 – Don’t take on more than you can handle

Taking on too much at work is commonplace. Some are worried about looking lazy, while others want to prove their worth. Chances are you don’t look lazy and your boss knows exactly how capable you are.

Picking up extra tasks can be a trigger for your mental illness, so making sure your workload is reasonable can help to ease the pressure and make you more productive.

Don’t forget that delegating tasks can also provide you with some extra breathing space.

#8 – Find a safe place where you can go when the illness takes over

Having a place at work where you feel safe in and can go to when you feel your illness taking over can be a reliable safety net. You may not need it often, but it’s good to know it’s there.

Some employers now provide safe spaces where employees can relax and meditate.

#9 – Put your health before work

Health will always be more important than work and it should always be your number one priority. Yes, we all need to pay bills, but that shouldn’t stop you from taking time off to recover and relax.

Relax on holiday

It’s good to take a break from work every now and again. It can give you time to recharge and give you the space to work through anything that’s affecting your health.

Try different things, see what works for you and don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Having a support system at home and work can make a huge difference.

Tell us what works for you? Share your tips on our Twitter or LinkedIn accounts.