Throughout the past two years, the Covid pandemic has taught the world many lessons – many of which center around the importance of mental health in the workplace. From the stifling effects of lockdowns, to the heavy burdens placed on healthcare workers, to the ‘work from home’ trend that touched many professionals; almost everyone has felt the impact. And for those individuals already dealing with mental health issues, these global changes have even greater effects, like increased anxiety, depression, and other severe conditions.
However, with any challenge comes greater opportunities.
Loyal Source supports Mental Health Awareness Month and is committed to raising awareness of those living – and working – with mental or behavioral health issues. Now is the perfect time to elevate the conversation around mental health in the workplace, particularly around healthcare and office workers.
Mental Health for Healthcare Workers
It’s no secret that the past two years have put healthcare workers under more stress than anyone could have ever imagined. Industry-wide burnout among these professionals and dire nursing shortages are clear proof that better mental health support is one of the most important things needed. Add in understaffed and overcrowded hospitals, and you’ve only hit the tip of the iceberg for all the stressors stacked against today’s healthcare workers.
So how can essential workers take care of others if they haven’t received the resources and supports to take care of themselves? We don’t have all the answers, but what we do have are some important steps healthcare workers can take to better understand their mental health and feel confident seeking out help when it’s needed.
Mental Health Signs and What to Do
First, let’s talk about stress. Stressful situations will always exist to some extent in healthcare settings, especially in hospitals. As stress levels have increased over the past two years, ‘constant’ stress may just feel like the new normal — but it shouldn’t be that way. Continually feeling stressed at work or while ‘thinking’ about work while off the clock is clearly not healthy, especially when coupled with the daily pressures we all experience at home. In fact, stress is a well-known cause of additional physical and mental health concerns.
Aside from stress, Mental Health America notes four additional concerning mental health signs:
- Isolation — This could look like spending more time at home when not working if you used to spend your days off going out, or it could look like isolation from your relationships with those close to you.
- Loss of Interest — This could be losing interest in things you used to enjoy, from hobbies to the little things like food or music.
- Difficulty Focusing — This could be difficulty focusing on tasks, or it could be having trouble following conversations with others.
- Mood Swings — This especially applies to having a short temper, becoming easily irritated, and frequently lashing out at those who you care for.
While there are many more signs of potentially adverse mental health conditions, these are some of the most common to identify early on. So what if you see similar signs in yourself? Here are some of the first things you can do when you need help:
- Accept that you have an issue and that getting help is never something to feel ashamed of. Learning the language and terms around mental health can help you understand yourself better in this stage, too.
- Talk to someone you trust. Your close circle is likely to be more supportive than you might think. If talking feels like too much, you can start by writing down your thoughts and feelings to either share or use as a starting point for conversation. Don’t have anyone you feel comfortable enough talking to? There are many warmlines available with trained peers who can relate to your mental health journey and help you take the next steps.
- Talk to a professional. Close friends and family are of course important to talk to, but a mental health professional will be able to give you the full help you need and deserve. If you aren’t sure how to talk to or find a mental health professional, your primary care doctor is a great place to start.
With these steps in mind, combined with the resources shared at the bottom, you will be on your way to overcoming your mental health concerns. And as a healthcare worker, you’ll be able to take better care of your patients because you have taken care of yourself first.
Mental Health for Office Workers
So, what about office workers? Recognizing mental health signs and the first steps you can take to get help remain the same regardless of your profession, so we recommend everything in the previous section. Office workers have also seen their fair share of workplace changes over the past two years. Even at Loyal Source, we made the complete switch from in-office only to fully remote, to now implementing a hybrid work environment.
While there are many mental health benefits to working from home, there are also some downsides. Working from home can make one feel disconnected from others and has left many workers feeling increasingly lonely and stressed as the months – and now years – have past. The important thing to remember is that whether your mental health journey started pre-pandemic or more recently, you’re not alone.
Loyal Source’s Vice President of Marketing, Todd Duclos, graciously volunteered to share his own mental health journey as part of NAMI’s “Together for Mental Health” initiative for this year’s Mental Health Awareness Month.
The beginning of Todd’s mental health journey came unexpectedly, yet also at a time when many stressors combined into a larger force. In Todd’s own words,
“I worked full time as a global VP of Innovation, helping to run a swim team with many internal conflicts, and had recently moved into a new house. All of these things were causing a growing amount of stress. I thought stress was something that grew and dissipated… but I did not understand what stress could do just yet.”
Todd soon began to experience anxiety attacks for the first time in his life, keeping it all to himself as much as he could. Eventually, it could no longer be hidden.
“My family intervened and said it was time to seek medical assistance. … I quit the swim team. I left a bad fitting job, only to have others come and go. I also saw a therapist every week and was slowly trying to get back to what used to be me. My life with the disorder kept getting worse; I lost a lot of wealth and barely survived. My family rescued me again.”
It was thanks to his family’s support and the support of mental health professionals that Todd was able to start on a new path to healing. A combination of family support, anxiety medication, physical and psychological tools in daily life, and regular meetings with a therapist all help him better manage anxiety and mental health today. As Todd describes his ongoing mental health journey, “I feel like a middle version of myself, moving toward an even better version of myself every day.”
During the toughest periods of anxiety, Todd says, “I seemed relatively normal to the public. I slept a lot more and had bouts of debilitating depression, but I looked the same, less happy, but the same when out in the world.”
In other words, anyone can experience mental health struggles on the inside and appear fine on the outside. It’s because of this that Todd concludes his story with this important message:
“In the interest of being together for mental health, I come out of my shadows to shed light on how common and natural it is to deal with too much. I hope it helps someone come together and reach out for help and support.”
Together for Mental Health
Mental health can affect anyone — It doesn’t matter if you’re an executive or you’re working your first-ever job. At Loyal Source, we stand together for mental health and promote mental health awareness year-round both internally and externally.
Loyal Source is proud to be one of many companies offering mental health support and resources to employees through our healthcare insurance provider for both members and non-members, and wellness is a priority at all levels throughout the business, including our internal Wellness Committee and guaranteed sick and wellness days for all.
We firmly believe we can only do our best if we feel supported and welcome!
Mental Health Resources
All this talk about mental health is great — but what can you do to learn more about mental health or get the support you need?
We recommend starting with the following resources:
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and Mental Health America both provide mental health education, support, and advocacy at the national and local levels and can help connect individuals with mental health support resources.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is open 24/7 and is completely free and confidential. The Lifeline’s network of over 200 local crisis centers across the country can help anyone in need connect with mental health support nearby.
Call 1-800-273-8255 or visit suicidepreventionlifeline.org. Beginning July 16, the line will also be accessible by dialing 988 anywhere in the U.S.To take care of your mental health is to take care of your entire health. No matter who you are or where you work, you’re deserving of mental health care to help live your best life.