How To Advocate For Support When Work Affects Your Mental Health

Most of us spend 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, somewhere around 50 weeks a year at work. For something that takes up so many of our 8,736 hours every year, so many people still deny the impact that work can have on our mental health.

To name a few categories of stressors:

  • time management
  • coworker dynamics / interactions
  • to-do list items
  • financial concerns (any)
  • coffee addiction

Do any or all of those cause you stress?

A year’s worth of blog posts could be written about the triggers in anyone’s workplace that negatively affect one’s mental health and self-worth. Because of the fact that there are so many factors, people do not take a moment and identify all of them that relate to their lives.

As a result, they deny the fact that their work is causing them emotional pain and they suppress their feeling state, discouraging them from ever exploring what could resolve the trigger in the workplace to begin with.

An article published in Inc. offers a concrete strategy for people to use if they feel that their mental health is being hindered at work. They offer:

  • Having a conversation with someone in your office about it, but choose how much you want to share. Determine how much your mental health is impacting your productivity, consider how well you communicate with that counterpart, and consider how coworkers have brought it up in the past.
  • Strategize when to have the conversation. Big picture: don’t wait until your pain gets severe. Nip it in the bud right away. Little picture: Schedule a concrete time with the appropriate supervisor or colleague some day or week coming up so that person knows to give you the attention you deserve.
  • Embrace the strength. Know that you are definitely not alone and, even though it is scary, it is so healthy and powerful to be able to express your needs like this early and start the dialogue about the support you need.
  • Seek that support. Whether your manager assists or not, who else could you enlist to help you? A friend? A teammate? A therapist?

We at Work Hive like this kind of strategy but we want to encourage a couple steps before you start that 4-step outreach.

First, identify what you are generally feeling.

  • Are you consistently feeling anger? Annoyance? Sadness? Or does it change week to week?

Second, who/what is making you feel that way?

  • Is it your to-do list? The person next to you in the office? Do you feel alone and overwhelmed?

Third, what are the environmental cues?

  • What characteristics of your office environment contribute to your emotional pain?
    • Desk layout?
    • Noise?
    • Lighting?
    • Energy?
    • Team dynamics?
    • Overall team schedule?

Work Hive is unique in that the majority of its members work remotely for companies located somewhere else in the country, but that does not mean that members here are free from mental health concerns. The triggers just might be different.

For example, as many report about working remotely (especially those who work from home), the experience is often isolating. Other than the weekly conference call, communication with one’s team can be strictly digital over email or instant messaging, which makes it easy for remote employees to feel more alone in their work. This can negatively impact their self-confidence in their tasks, and the detachment from their team can discourage them from taking the risk to reach out for support from their manager.

If you are a remote employee in a coworking space and you feel this, reach out to the manager of your office space following the steps listed above, and they can either support you directly or help you have the conversation you need with your own company’s manager.