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World Mental Health Day: Mental Health in the Workplace

World Mental Health Day: Mental Health in the Workplace

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  • World Mental Health Day raises awareness on global mental health issues and the importance of taking measures to help people with mental disorders
  • Mental health issues can increase employee absenteeism and reduce work productivity
  • This year the theme for World Mental Health Day is “Mental Health in the Workplace"

World Mental Health Day is an annual event observed on 10th October to raise awareness of mental health issues and take efforts in supporting mental health. The theme of World Mental Health Day 2017 is "Mental Health in the Workplace." According to the World Health Organization (WHO), during our adult lives, a large proportion of our time is spent at work. And how we spend our time at the workplace is an important factor that determines our overall well-being.


Mental Health in the Workplace

A negative working environment may lead to physical and mental health problems, absenteeism, reduce productivity and increase the use of alcohol and substances. The most common mental health disorders are depression and anxiety that have an impact on the ability to work and affect work productively Workplace stress not only affects mental health, but also increases the risk of hypertension and affects blood sugar levels.

Work-life balance, which is the division of an individual's time and focuses on work, family or leisure activities is important. Every individual looks for a good work-life balance and strong diversity policies to support their well-being at work. A workplace that cares for its employees' well-being attracts more new recruits.

Importance of Addressing Mental Health Issues in Workplace

About 10% of the employees take time off from work to deal with depression. On an average, 36 workdays are lost per depression episode. More than 50% of the people with depression are untreated. Some of the cognitive symptoms of depression such as difficulties in concentrating, making decisions and remembering are present up to 94% of the time during an episode of depression. These cognitive symptoms can affect work function and productivity.

Most of the people find it difficult to disclose that they have mental health difficulties in the workplace. Employers should take initiatives to promote mental health and support employees who have mental disorders. This will not only improve the health of the employees, but also improve their productivity at work.

Treating mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety is an affordable and cost-effective way to promote well-being. Good mental health helps people to realize their potential and help them cope with the normal stresses of life and work.

Facts and Statistics on Mental Health

  • One in four people experience mental health problems at some point in their lives
  • Globally, more than 300 million people are diagnosed with depression, which is the leading cause of disability
  • About 260 million people live with anxiety disorders
  • Most of the people have both depression and anxiety disorders
  • Both depression and anxiety cost the global economy US$ 1 trillion each year in lost work productivity
  • About 1.2 million of the UK's working population has faced demotion after disclosing a mental health issue at work
  • In the US, one in five adults experience mental illness every year
  • In the UK, one in seven people experience mental health problems in their workplace
  • One in 20 Indians have depression
  • Women in full-time employment are twice likely to have mental health issues than full-time employed men
  • One in five teenagers aged between 13 to 18 experience severe mental disorder

Top 10 Tips to Improve Mental Health at Workplace

Take Breaks
Regular breaks during the day can help complete a task better and manage stress levels.Studies have shown that stepping away from work can boost well-being and productivity.

Use Lunch-Break Productively
Going outside at lunchtime can separate your mind from work. Make time for your favorite hobby like reading a book or listening to music to make your break more relaxing.

Plan your Work Ahead
Being disorganized can increase the risk of stress and anxiety. Make a to-do-list for the next day before leaving office. Planning the day in advance to stay on top of your workload can help reduce stress.

Discuss your Problems
Most employees feel uncomfortable to discuss mental health problems with their employer. Discussing mental health issue with the manager or colleague can be helpful.

Learn Something New
Take opportunities at work to learn. Try to learn something new at least once a week. Take part in the workshops or seminars organized at the office.

Take Up a Challenge
Participate in a local marathon and other activities like music and dance. Taking part in an event as a team can give a communal sense of achievement after completing the challenge.

Plan a Trip
Plan a vacation with your colleagues and friends to boost your mental health. Studies have shown that a vacation can boost your overall happiness for up to 8 weeks and also improve work productivity.

Eat Healthy
A healthy diet can improve both mental and physical health. It is important to keep yourself well-hydrated. Keep a water bottle at your desk. Carry healthy snacks like nuts (almonds, walnuts, pistachios) and yogurt to keep hunger pangs away and also to help you stay focused.

Regular exercise has a positive impact on mental health. Go for a short walk during the break. This helps clear the mind and help you stay focused once back at your desk. Simple breathing exercises during breaks can help divert your brain from stress.

Seek Help
If you are finding it difficult to be happy and cope with everyday life, consult a mental health professional.

Most of the employers and organizations do not see mental health issues in the workplace as a priority. Many employees may be suffering from one or more mental health disorders in silence. The World Mental Health Day provides an opportunity for all those working on mental health issues to talk about their work and take steps to make mental health care a reality for people worldwide.


  1. World Mental Health Day - 10 October - (http://www.who.int/mental_health/world-mental-health-day/en/)
  2. World Mental Health Day - (https://www.mind.org.uk/get-involved/world-mental-health-day/)
  3. Mental Health By the Numbers - (https://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-By-the-Numbers)

Source: Medindia

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