Mental Health and How it affects the Workplace

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Mental Health and How it affects the Workplace

Mental health has no boundaries that in can affect you even in working / Photo by: Phat1978 via Shutterstock


According to the World Health Organization, more than 300 million people around the world suffer from depression and other mental health illnesses. It is one of the reasons why most people are being disabled mentally and emotionally. A recent WHO-led study estimates that depression and anxiety disorders cost the global economy US$ 1 trillion each year because of the loss of productivity because mental health illnesses could cripple a person. Likewise, the reason why most people suffers from mental health condition is that of unemployment, but studies also show that having a negative working environment could lead to physical and mental health problems which could make an individual use harmful substance, absenteeism, and inability of being productive.

“We know that depression is the number one cause of workplace absenteeism,” said Karl Shallowhorn, a mental health advocate and education program coordinator for Community Health Center of Buffalo. He also added that there are some employees who are present at work but they are distracted because of their never-ending thoughts and this is called presenteeism. Forbes mentioned in their article that a study found out that in the United States, they lose $193.2 billion in earnings per year because of their employee’s mental health issues. Likewise, studies have proved that having an unhappy workplace could have a huge toll on the person’s mental health, relationship, and even to the lifespan of the person. Which is why it is important for the companies to take into consideration that the workplace should be a safe and happy place, where their employees could breathe and have a peace of mind while they are working.

Moreover, The Sun recently reported that the Malaysian Mental Health Association (MMHA) is now urging employers in their country to focus to the mental health needs and issues of their staff and to take consideration of the fact that workplace depression is a legitimate problem and should be addressed immediately. “Sadly it remains largely unrecognized, unacknowledged, and undetected due to ignorance, fear, and stigma associated with psychological distress, which is often seen as a sign of weakness or character flaw,” said Dr.  Andrew Mohanraj, Malaysian Mental Health Association president.



Workplace and mental health

Dr. Mohanraj also added that having stress at the workplace is normal, however, too much stress and unnecessary pressure could be counterproductive which could lead to poor performance, bad interpersonal relationship and it could also affect the person’s emotional and physical health. There are times that a person could be motivated by the pressure that their bosses are giving to them, but too much pressure could break them too. It is important that employers know where to set their limitations and consider that their employees need to breathe too.

In a website called, medical, they reported that Sir Cary Cooper, professor of organizational psychology and health at Alliance Manchester, emphasized during his keynote speech the problem of presentism. His research found that 28% of UK workers are present at work even though they are physically and mentally ill since most of the employers don’t believe that mental health conditions could really affect the person’s performance in their work.



Data from different parts of the world shows that mental health problems are one of the cause on why employees drop out of work. In a website called,, they stated that in the Netherlands, around 58% of the reported work-related disabilities are related to mental health. Mental health problems are real and it could have a huge and direct impact on employers and businesses due to the negative impact on their products which could affect their company’s profits. Moreover, stress about work is a major cause of occupational ill health and human error which could increase the risk of having a high number of accidents because they are distracted and tired.


Workplace mental health initiatives

Supporting and promoting mental health could be very challenging since many people are still not aware of how serious it is when a person is suffering from any mental health condition. However, companies should take it very seriously because they still depend on the manpower that their employees are providing to them. Company managers and administrators should make mental health issues as one of their priorities in order to keep their employees efficient and productive. “It’s not just a feel-good strategy,” says Mary Ann Baynton, program director for the Great-West Life Centre for Mental Health in the Workplace. She also added that having a good strategy in keeping the mental health of their employees in health is going to help in maximizing the potential and energy of every employee which could be beneficial to the company.


Its better to take a good care of your health, mentally and physically / Photo Credit via Maxpixel


However, some employers are committing a mistake whenever they try to make an initiative for mental health awareness and they are just focusing on the specific people who suffer from different mental health conditions. Baynton stressed that mental health initiative should focus on everyone and not just to the people who experience it, because sometimes, they could feel alienated and thus, this will increase their anxiety and could make their condition worse.



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