HR Managers–Do not Overlook the Mental Health of Your employees


We are in a fast-paced world where output matters more than our effort. We find ourselves in a world where we are supposed to appear smarter, become high achievers, speak intelligently and achieve great milestones within a stipulated period of time and our inability to meet these invisible but existing guidelines impact us greatly.

We are in a corporate world, which has no patience for our training and has little tolerance for our mistakes. We are supposed to be “perfect” and our inability to meet targets are met with losing our job or position.

As a result of this, most of us, are stretching ourselves to achieve the best version of what “our companies”, “our families” and “our society” require of us. 

In the corporate world, this has created a high level of anxiety and other related mental disorders amongst employees. 

In the US, the number of workplace suicides since 2018 has seen an 11% increase year over year. Clearly, we cannot rule out the impact of the business world on the mental health of employees.

As a result, we are all responsible for the mental health of each other. In our own small way, we are supposed to become counsellors and provide a strong social support system to one another. We can do this by practicing the following:

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1.      Treating people as we want to be treated

This statement cannot be overemphasized. We owe it to ourselves, to keep other people’s sanity in check. If you are a manager and you do not like to be shouted at, do not do the same to your employee. If you need a break sometimes because of how overwhelming your work is, have that in mind when your subordinate pleads for a short break when they are not in their best condition.  Remember when you worked as an entry level employee, and how you struggled with simple presentations and tasks which you consider easy today. Have the patience to train your team members or provide them with the necessary training tools. This is better than leaving them to discover their fate. There is no point in reinventing the wheel and trying to prove a point by withholding information.

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2.      Try to address issues in-person rather than to use emails to correct petty issues and behaviors

I remember the first time a colleague used an email to chastise me. It was right after lunch. We had had the best conversation. And I practically had no clue of the existing problem until I checked my mail. Not only did I receive an unpleasant email, several other colleagues and seniors were copied in the mail. I was negatively impacted, and I have since wondered why people use emails for conversations that could happen in-person. You may never know what people are going through so we can avoid using emails to address personal issues, venting, criticizing grammar, amongst others. Some of these emails have caused loss of jobs, affected the mental health of colleagues, and have affected relationships and teamwork. There is nothing wrong sending emails for work purposes. But when these emails are mainly to tarnish the image of someone, engage in arguments or to caution them of an act they were not aware of, email becomes questionable. If it can be done in-person, why not do that. Sometimes, by doing so we are able to get better clarification and also understand the other person’s perspective.

That notwithstanding, there are certain issues that concern ethics that need not to be said in-person but needs to be documented for security reasons.

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3.      A smile can go a long way

It is easier to tell people to create their own happiness and not depend on others for their own happiness. However, reality is that our happiness is not independent of others but rather it’s connected. Someone’s smile and positive compliment can go a long way to contribute to your happiness when you feel depressed.  More importantly, remembering the positive words and statements used to describe you can feed your subconscious mind with positive vibes when you feel depressed. Complimenting a colleague on a good presentation they made, and how well they executed a project will boost their self-esteem and confidence. Reminding your employees on how phenomenal their performance was in the previous quarter can serve as a performance booster in the months ahead.

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4.      Handle mental health issues under organizational policy

It is easier to spot a sick employee than to identify an employee with a mental health issue. Hence, it is important for corporations to be very intentional in addressing mental health issues at the workplace.

HR managers must bear in mind that mental disorder is no respecter of positions and titles. Everyone can experience a mental health disorder at one point or another. It is important to be intentional and very strategic about mental health awareness programs for your organization.

If possible, hire a psychologist or counselor for such a purpose.

Our mental health influences how we behave and how we perform at work. As such, companies must avoid treating issues of performance separately from those of mental health.

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