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Feeling NOT OK is OK!

Feeling NOT OK is OK!

Debating openly on mental health has never been the easiest thing even on the Indian social media. Despite a shift in the paradigm on mental health in the wake of Covid19, there’s still a taboo around it. People hesitate to discuss common symptoms like feeling constant weakness, unworthiness, burnout, and having difficulties in the workplace.

Why is it still a TABOO to talk about mental health at the workplace?

Statistics state that an average officegoer spends 90,000 hours at the office desk. This means ? of our lives is spent on our office bureaus. Mental health awareness becomes more important at the workplace because most of us spend the majority of our productive time on our desks. Still talking about mental health at work is a strict no-no.

Here are a few reasons why it can be tough to come clean about mental wellness in the workplace.

Fear of rejection:

Interacting with colleagues makes up a huge part of any workday. You may not want to reveal yourself to the co-workers you don’t trust. Sometimes, you may not want to burden those you do. Thoughts of rejection can make asking for help seem like a dare.

“The poor one” tag:

Office culture is different everywhere. Emotionally distant office atmosphere makes asking for a little assistance a tall ask. Nobody wants to be the odd-one out. Fear of being looked down upon or complete ostracization breeds the culture of silence.

Diminishing career prospects

Unfortunately, mental unwellness is linked directly with smaller IQ and limited productivity.

A constant sword of career setback hangs on your heads. You feel that if you confess your anxiousness and uneasiness, you could end up losing out on meatier projects or career advancement chances.

Ignorance is NOT always a bliss

Most of us fail to understand that we need help. "I'm just tired." "A nap is all that I need." We often fool ourselves because we don't understand that lingering fatigue, mental annoyance, or physical stiffness are alarming signs.

How can we change it?

TALK and talk fearlessly. LISTEN and listen patiently.

Tiny acts can bring a lofty change.

Talking to the right person can aid.

It may be a chat with the HR, or it may be a breakroom tale-telling with XYZ from another department — but the simple act of opening up to people can do wonders.

Mental health issues are often felt so privately, that having someone simply listen can provide a meaningful release.

It inspires others to be open too.

When you start sharing how you’re feeling, others will too. So more of you will realize that most of you are experiencing the same emotions. This will fade away the taboo and may help to raise an alarm.

Need to normalise:

We need to normalise having conversations around mental health. People tend to suffer in isolation because they feel it's NOT OK to tell others that they're exhausted (sometimes even at the beginning of the day).

Once it is alright to tell others that you're not at the peak of your productivity, things become easier for others too.

Encourage awareness about mental health

If you’re in an HR or management position, encouraging seniors and team leaders to be open about their difficulties can set an example.

Even if you’re not a manager or an HR, demonstrating openness, self-care, and concern for the mental wellness of others can make a real impact on your office culture.

Evolution of HR is a sign of advancement:

The traditional role of HR is no more valid. Now, the HR has to plunge into the unexplored territories like mental wellness, social stigma, and discrimination against mental health survivors.

Workplaces must offer Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs).

However, workers looking to seek out these services must not feel like they get to put on the radar.

The HR must promise and deliver:

  • Privacy
  • Accessibility
  • Confidentiality

A diverse team for communication:

The HR department should ensure there's a diverse team of individuals that employees know they can turn to.

Don't employ just one person named as a support contact. It is highly unlikely she/he will be a great fit for every person in need.

Ideally, the reaching out process should be accessible, confidential, and asynchronous.

No hard and fast rules

Understand everyone has different comfort levels. They will share ONLY what they want.  The best we can all do is make work a safe place for sharing our insecurities and mental wellness issues.

We must not forget that people are coming into the cubicle of an HR and not entering a confession box.

About the Author

Miss Jyoti Dhiman is a seasoned content writer, copywriter, editor, and LinkedIn strategist. She is keen to work in the arena of sustainable cosmetics, eco-ethical tourism, and guilt-free fashion. She is passionate about mental health awareness and loves to blog about it.