This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, and while it’s a complex topic with many facets, it’s important to discuss in the workplace. While mental health is starting to be addressed in today’s society, 71% of workers believe that discussing it in the workplace is taboo.
First and foremost, it’s clear that the statistic of 71% needs to be dramatically reduced – however, there’s not one singular reason why this number is high. As a flexible workspace, we can’t solve the cause of mental health issues, but this article will help address some of the reasons that mental health is considered taboo, and how one can work towards breaking down those taboos.
The Work Social Life
The ‘taboo’: Struggling to make friends at work
Not everyone likes who they work with, and there’s no need to be best friends with everyone. However, it can take a toll on mental health when you find it difficult to form friendships in your team. Loneliness and isolation are not often discussed, especially in the case of entrepreneurs and freelancers, where it can be a real issue when trying to set up your own business.
The ‘solution’: Having a new coworking family
Many entrepreneurs and freelancers find that a key benefit of a flexible work environment is being part of a community. While they might not work with you directly, joining a flexible workspace means you inherit a new set of ‘colleagues’. This new diverse group of people, who you don’t necessarily need to discuss work with, can give you a breath of fresh air outside the topic of projects and meetings.
Taking A Personal Day
The ‘taboo’: Asking for a mental health day
With the majority at work finding it difficult to bring up the topic of mental health, the idea of asking for a day off is nerve racking in itself. It’s currently not regarded as being the same as a ‘sick day’ when you are physically unwell, which is a problem within itself.
The ‘solution’: Remote working
Sometimes it’s important to have a day where you step away from your work environment. You might need time alone, and without all the questions that come with it. Encompassing flexible working into the daily routine can take away from the stress of having a mental health day. The flexibility of a coworking environment means that there’s no pressure to turn up every day, no questions asked.
Discussing Mental Health
The ‘taboo’: Talking about mental health
It might be easy to sweep the topic of mental health under the rug, as it is less visible than a physical illness. However doing this doesn’t make the issue go away. It may isolate people with issues who will find it hard to discuss with team members or managers, who might not understand the mental health issues they might be facing.
The ‘solution’: Adopt mental health into the daily work routine
Having activities at work that combat stress and anxieties demonstrate that it is okay to take a break, and focus on something else other than work. It’s a practical way of addressing that mental health is an issue in the workplace. It can start discussions, demonstrating that talking about mental health at work is okay! At AHQ our Week Of Wellness gave our members the opportunity to dive into the world of wellbeing, and explore ways to conquer stress at work, through seminars, meditation and even puppy therapy!
When it comes to mental health, it’s important to stress that one size does not fit all – different methods will help improve and maintain good mental health at work. So, while it cannot be guaranteed that flexible working can improve your mental health, we have seen how it improves the working lives of our members, and enables them to focus on their wellbeing and happiness.