IMA Switzerland’s own column by Nina Schwyter

Mental Health@Work!

Edition 2 | Newsletter 6 December 2021

I do understand that this topic is very delicate and therefore, I would like to mention that this article is a reflection of my own personal opinion. I am not an expert on mental health, nor do I have a degree in medicine.

Mental health is clearly an integral part of our wellbeing - but what exactly does this encircle? The World Health Organization (WHO) defines it as follows:
Mental health is a state of well-being in which an individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and is able to make a contribution to his or her community. Mental health is fundamental to our collective and individual ability as humans to think, emote, interact with each other, earn a living and enjoy life.

Unfortunately, this topic is still tainted with prejudice. If those affected dare to speak out, they are often confronted with a lack of understanding. Sadly, this is often the case in our performance-oriented society. According to the European Commission, almost 84 million people in the EU alone were affected by men­tal health problems in 2016.

Bullying at work and stressful working conditions are named as frequent triggers of psychological problems. Certain companies have made it their business to support those affected, often having mental health professionals at their disposal for employees in need. Others, finance outpatient programs, where employees may book much needed sessions. This is exemplary and good for the future work environment (Industry 4.0). These examples are of course exceptional. Most companies have not yet fully understood the importance of their employee’s wellbeing. Taking even small preventive measures will greatly reduce the days of absence which are a large cost factor in the yearly budget. In addition, these measures will have a positive effect on the “general employee satisfaction” statistics.

An important part of tackling "Mental Health" @ Work is understanding how mental health problems develop.

In a fast-paced work environment, stress and pressure often increase disproportionately. If this evolves into a permanent condition over a short time, it may result in serious psychological problems. Furthermore, the added pressure of having to justify overtime and hours spent at the office, leads to an unhealthy and toxic work environment.

Add to this vicious circle, that today’s assistants rarely communicate about their situation because they feel embarrassed. After all, one must save face and show no weakness. That being said, it is easy to get caught up in this negative maelstrom with seemingly no way out.

The following list outlines a few tips and tricks that I use when it is “that” time again:

  • Take breaks, even when you are lacking time.
  • Try and move about regularly. Take the stairs instead of the elevator as often as you can. This will keep your body oxygenated.
  • When you are feeling overwhelmed, go to a quiet and dark room. Take slow, deep breaths for a minute or two.
  • Accept help when it is offered to you. You are not alone!
  • Ask for help.
  • Learn to say no!
  • Talk to a friend.
  • If all else fails, seek professional help. Don’t let pride get in the way of your wellbeing.

If you do need professional support or if you need an outside person to talk to please do not hesitate to contact the website for Suicide and Crisis Hotlines. Nearly every country has a Hotline and therefore, will be able to connect you to a health professional in your country near you.

Remember to take care of your well-being at work and at home, be kind to one another and don’t be afraid to ask for help if needed.