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    Mental Health & The Workplace

    We usually measure our fitness by our physical health, but our mental health is just as
    important. Mental health distress and illness can negatively impact your safety and the safety
    of your co-workers. Though everyone experiences stress and trauma differently, there are
    common signs to watch for and proactive steps you can take to prioritize your mental health.

    According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, nearly one-
    in-five American adults live with mental illness. More face stress and anxiety from
    unexpected crises, whether it’s a personal issue or a workplace incident. While mental
    health concerns can feel overwhelming and may not seem like a risk to you or your co-
    worker; however, they can pose serious dangers.

    According to the CDC, mental health concerns can impact your physical health. Depression,
    for example, increases the risks for diabetes, heart disease and stroke. In stressful
    situations, it can be tempting to ignore the cause of our anxieties and focus on something
    else, but that will only compound the problem. Understanding the risks of mental distress
    and facing the source of your stress is the first step toward successfully managing these

    The signs of mental distress may not show up for weeks or months after a stressful situation
    or experience. Regardless of the timing, watch for common signs such as:

    o Feeling unmotivated, or physically or mentally drained

    o Feeling sad, lonely, numb, or worried

    o Changes in your appetite or sleep patterns

    o Increases in alcohol or drug use

    o Difficulty focusing or making decisions

    o Arguing more or becoming easily frustrated with family, friends, or co-workers

    Even if you don’t notice these signs, if you aren’t feeling like yourself, don’t ignore it. There
    are many myths and misconceptions about mental health, which can make it difficult to
    recognize the signs in yourself. It is not wrong to have these feelings, but if you are having
    them frequently, it is a sign you should seek additional help. In addition to looking for these
    signs in yourself, you can also watch and listen for signs in your co-workers, such as:

    Disclosure of exceptional stress or mental health conditions, such as depression or
    Failure to fulfill major life responsibilities, such as work, school, or financial
    Withdrawal from important relationships

    Don’t pry or make assumptions, but it can be helpful to check in and listen with
    compassion.  Learn more about the common signs and causes of workplace stress and what
    you can do to help manage it. 

    There are resources available to help you. At work, you can talk to your supervisor or
    human resources about what’s causing your stress. Your workplace might offer an

    There are resources available to help you. At work, you can talk to your supervisor or human resources about what’s causing your stress. Your workplace might offer an employee assistance program (EAP) with access to counselors, financial planners, and other resources. Outside of work, you can talk with your doctor, a loved one or a trusted friend.

    Remember that there is no shame in asking for help or seeking counseling. No one needs to
    conquer a crisis alone; lean on others when you need help and provide assistance when
    others need it from you.  

    Once you understand the source of your stress, there are proactive steps to address it and
    reduce your anxiety. Focus on keeping yourself healthy by:

    o Getting at least seven hours of sleep each day to recharge both mentally and

    o Exercising regularly for 30 minutes a day, it could be as simple as a walk

    o Eating healthy food

    Separating work from your personal life, including taking time for activities you enjoy
    and using all your vacation days

    Stress won’t go away overnight, but each step can make a difference. While maintaining
    these healthy habits, you can make your body and mind more resilient, and better able to
    deal with stress. The more prepared you are to manage your stress, the more you can do to
    help keep you, co-workers and loved ones safe.


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