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How to Advocate for Your Mental Health in the Workplace

May 23 2022

Mental health is recognized as being more important now than ever. Thankfully, it’s lost some of the stigma that was associated with it in the past. This makes it easier to talk about it now more than ever — even in the workplace.

Studies have shown that employees who suffer from mental health problems, like depression, are far less productive. They also miss more workdays. Knowing that mental health and productivity in the workplace go hand in hand, it’s important to be open and honest about your own situation.

With this in mind, here are ways you can advocate for your mental health in the workplace.

Talk to your leaders

The best way to advocate for your mental health in the workplace is to speak up. Talk to your bosses, managers and supervisors. If you’re not comfortable talking about mental health, start with topics like burnout, stress and work-life balance.

Your work culture may play a role in your comfort level. Step back and think about it. Is your boss open to hearing new ideas? Do they appreciate feedback from employees? Or is the environment so toxic that you’re not comfortable approaching your boss about your mental health?

Provide workplace mental health statistics

When you do you talk to your boss, come prepared. Look for studies that show how good mental health practices can improve productivity. Or how they can help you recruit better employees. There are many of them out there, especially from recent years.

More companies are now focusing on creating a positive work-life balance for their employees. Bring statistics showing how it can help everyone. Your boss will likely take you more seriously if you’ve done some research.

Listen to the needs of others

More than likely, you’re not the only person in your workplace with mental health concerns. It’s something that affects everyone. Talk to your coworkers. Listen to what they say about issues like stress, work-life balance and mental health.  You may even notice that some of your coworkers are struggling. Stand up for them. Work together to come up with a plan to address leadership.

Start or volunteer for an employee resource group

Employee resource groups are employee-led groups that focus on making sure everyone in the workplace is included, no matter their gender, lifestyle, sexuality, ethnicity, race, religion, interests or any other factor. Members of the group are volunteers who want to make sure they work in a safe space. Consider starting one if your company doesn’t have one. You can use this as a tool to advocate for your mental health with the support of other group members.

Be honest about your own situation 

If you’re comfortable sharing your personal struggles, do it. Talk to your employer and your coworkers about your own mental health to help get the conversation rolling. This can help erase some of the fear and shame others may feel about speaking up.

Make suggestions on ways your employer can help

Your boss might be open to new ideas, but they may not know where to start. Bring some suggestions with you. You can research or poll your coworkers.

Ideas might include:

  • Creating new company policies that focus on mental health
  • Educating all employees on mental health and the workplace
  • Making accommodations for those with mental health concerns or all employees
  • Offering benefits that relate to mental health
  • Training supervisors and managers on mental health issues

Consider going to human resources

Sadly, not every boss will listen and not every manager will take you seriously. In some cases, you may just work in a toxic environment.

If you feel like you can’t be open about mental health, go to your human resources representative. They can help you figure out best next steps. You can typically talk to them confidentially, too.

Mental health is just as important as physical health. And you should take it just as seriously. If you don’t, the consequences can be devastating. 

Are you struggling with mental health? If so, one of the best things you can do is seek help from a medical professional. Learn about the behavioral and mental health services we offer at Bon Secours.

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