As a manager, you likely take steps to help others’ mental health at work. It has a huge impact. But what about your own emotional wellbeing?
No one is immune to mental health concerns, and it is said that one in five people will experience a mental illness at some point in their life. That doesn’t include the mental health concerns that aren’t part of a diagnosable mental health condition. For example, grief or workplace stress, both of which are common.
Nine out of every ten workers say that their workplace stress has an impact on their mental health, and like those they oversee, managers most certainly face workplace stress themselves.
If you are a manager or are otherwise a higher-up in your workplace, there is nothing to be ashamed of if you run up against mental health concerns, and you’re most certainly not alone. It’s possible to get to a better place.
Consequences of ignoring mental health needs
Why is it so vital to address your mental health needs at work, especially when you’re the manager?
When our mental health suffers, unlike a broken bone or the flu, no one can see it. It can be tempting to go on and on until your brain and body alike stop you from moving forward. However, just because you can push through mental health struggles, doesn’t mean they’re not real, or that you should ignore them.
If you don’t address your mental health needs, your body will likely send you warning signs. Unfortunately, these warning signs may disrupt your work more than attending to your mental health in the first place. Ranging from mild to severe, here are some of the potential consequences of ignoring mental health needs:
- Difficulty sleeping (which can increase the risk of car accidents and other negative health outcomes)
- Feelings of depression
- Worry and panic attacks
- Irritability toward coworkers, friends, or family
- A decrease in work performance
- Communication struggles
- Trouble dealing with chores at home
- High blood pressure
- An increased risk of cardiovascular disease or stroke
- Gastrointestinal issues
- Muscle tension
- Chronic pain
- Early mortality
Your mind and body will push back if you don’t listen to your needs. The mind and body are connected, hence why we see such a correlation between a range of negative physical health outcomes and a person’s emotional, social, or psychological wellbeing.
Some people don’t care for their mental health until it leads to a heart attack, the severing of interpersonal relationships, strain on family life, hospitalization, or something else.
It isn’t your fault if you have pushed to the point of burnout. After all, our society has forced this upon many, particularly those who overwork due to great financial need. However, burnout is a lot harder than taking a break when you first see mental health warning signs.
Anyone who has been there can attest that prevention matters. You don’t want to hit rock bottom. The only question is, how do you take the leap to address your mental health needs, especially if you are responsible for others?
How to address mental health needs as a manager
As a manager, you may have a high level of responsibility and worries that are unique to your situation. If this has prevented you from seeking help or addressing your needs in the past, it doesn’t have to now. Here are some ways to address your mental health needs as a manager:
Pinpoint what exactly is off.
In order to address your needs, you need to know what they are. What exactly is going wrong to make you feel the way you do? Is it a lack of support at work? Feelings of loneliness at home? Are you feeling burned out? Now is the time to assess what you need and how to get it.
Be honest with yourself, and start with what’s most ideal rather than a compromise from the get-go. If it’s a need, it’s a need.
Build a schedule that supports your long-term mental health.
Once you identify your needs, it’s time to build a schedule that allows you to meet them. You may not be able to change your demanding work schedule, but there may be other parts of the day that you can tweak.
If you’re feeling overworked in general, make sure not to take on more projects at home. And at work, consider speaking up about your concerns.
Sometimes you don’t have to change your schedule, but change how you move from one part of the schedule to another. This can mean setting stronger boundaries between work and home life, or changing how you approach your responsibilities. Boundaries with yourself that relate to work could look like “I won’t open my work email once I’m home for the day,” “I don’t work on weekends,” or “I need to go home by 6 PM.”
Other mental health needs that your schedule can accommodate might include therapy, time for self-care activities, or a healthy sleep schedule and sleep hygiene routine.
Use your compassion to make the workplace better.
If you’re a manager, you’re in a unique position to use your own experience to create positive change. With the knowledge of what it’s like to struggle, you can extend compassion to those you manage and create a workplace where it’s more possible for people to meet their self-care needs. This can aid worker performance, happiness, and retention.
Create backup and preparation plans
If your mental health might make you miss work, how do you plan to handle those moments? Alternatively, what can you do when you’re at work and your brain stops cooperating? Consider speaking with your higher-ups for ideas, or collaborating with your peers in management.
Aside from backup after mental health issues arise, how can you prepare yourself for the bad days? Preparing for bad mental health days could look like keeping meals in the freezer, or making sure you don’t run out of your medication.
Know that you don’t have to disclose if you don’t want to.
Say that you need to take time off work, reduced hours, or some other change to your job. Whether that change is temporary or long-term, know that there’s nothing to be ashamed of. While you may feel a sense of obligation to supply employees with an explanation, know that you don’t have to reveal the reason behind these changes if you don’t want to. You can keep it vague.
Make sure that you do have someone to talk to.
You don’t have to discuss the details of your mental health at work, but it is crucial to have someone to talk to when it comes to mental health. Social support can reduce stress, feelings of anxiety, and feelings of depression, alongside other benefits. So, make sure that you don’t keep it all inside.
How can you seek help for mental health issues?
There are a couple of things you can do to establish mental health support for yourself.
You can bring up your concerns at a doctor’s appointment, and they may be able to help you plan for time off, refer you to a therapist, or support you in another way that’s relevant to your circumstances.
You may have resources available to you at work as well; make sure to use the benefits available to you.
Remember that it’s okay to do what you need to do. It can be hard to take the leap to care for your mental health, especially if you have a high level of obligation. However, there’s only one you, and you have to take care of yourself.
Talk to someone
We all need a safe space to get what we’re going through off of our chests. Supportiv is a peer support network that allows you to get in touch with someone quickly. It’s affordable, 100% anonymous, and available 24/7. Read our FAQs to learn more about Supportiv, or click “Chat Now” to try it.