Mental Health and Wellbeing in the Workplace
Mental health, wellbeing and mindfulness have become popular buzzwords in recent times, with many people and companies using these words for Employer Branding and Marketing purposes, however many times there is not much behind it; we all know buzzwords are just words at the end of the day and a thorough understanding of mental health and wellbeing goes way beyond dropping them in from time to time.
In a time where uncertainty has become a daily challenge and each and everyone of us have experienced unprecedented intense stress due to the pandemic and its consequences, mental health and wellbeing needs to be taken seriously and properly understood and, most importantly, supported.
We spend the majority of our days in our working environment, meaning we need to have the support and understanding of our management in order to uphold and maintain positive mental health in our employees. Unfortunately, mental health is not always a priority for companies, and even in those companies who have many of the right measures in place, there are many factors, internal and external, that can result in the declining mental health of employees; either from burnout or a clinical medical reason such as depression or anxiety, for example. This can lead to a sizable percentage of the workforce becoming mentally unwell.
Data Doesn’t Lie
From a business perspective, it has been proven that prevention is more cost effective than treatment. A recent WHO-led study estimates that depression and anxiety disorders cost the global economy $1 trillion USD each year in lost productivity. The same study also shows that for every $1 USD put into scaled-up preventative support for common mental disorders, there is a return of $4 USD in improved health and productivity. As they say, data doesn’t lie, so we can clearly see how investing and supporting our employees’ mental health is a benefit to the company but, most importantly, to the health of the employees, as only healthy employees can be engaged, which is a main driver for retention.
My Personal Experience and How Runtastic Supported Me
I am grateful to say I work for a company that supports the mental health and wellbeing of its employees. We are the first to admit we can always improve, but I would not be here writing this blog if it was not for the support of my company… let me explain…
…For the majority of us, 2020 was a tough year and it was no different for me. At the beginning of the pandemic, my mental health took a downward turn and I began to show signs of severe anxiety and depression. For me, the uncertainty of the pandemic was hard to deal with, especially as an expat living away from home. Also the challenge of working from home, changing processes, video call after video call, and having no social interactions was very difficult for me to handle. My wonderful and empathetic leader at the time, Babsi, noticed a change in me and cautiously addressed how I was doing and feeling on a regular basis. After some conversations, I was able to tell her, I am not okay. This was the start of my recovery. My leader guided me through what the company offered to support me during my sickness and also offered her personal tips and tricks to stay healthy. Initially our flexible working hours helped me to work when I could, rather than having to work when I was unable. For me, this was not enough to recover. Babsi advised to talk to our work psychologist, and after some sessions I was advised to seek professional help. Thankfully, in Austria your taxes cover all of your health needs so after a quick chat with my General Practitioner I was referred to a psychotherapist who was able to clinically assist with my recovery.
After some weeks off work to recover, which again was paid leave due to the strong social system in Austria, I was ready to go back to work! But I was still anxious about rejoining. Babsi again advised me I can return slowly with reduced hours in order to ensure my mental health is still the priority.
Being mentally unwell can be very daunting, however, thanks to the incredible support of my leader and my wonderful team, my health was made a priority and I was able to take the time I needed to recover.
Our Team Was a Big Factor in my Recovery
Thankfully, not everyone will need clinical support, and Runtastic has many benefits to preemptively take care of its employees mental health and well being; as mentioned, flexible working hours and working approaches, free gym access to encourage physical care for your mental wellbeing, massages to relax, a parent-first approach, weekly yoga classes, social events (remote when required!) and also the mentioned free access to our work psychologists, just to name a few!
For me, another unofficial benefit of Runtastic that helped me a lot was our open-minded team. Being able to talk about my struggles in a nonjudgmental and supportive environment was invaluable and I truly would not have had such a successful recovery if it was not for our Runtastics. To help support our team and to ‘give back’, I have created a Mindful Mulligan article, in our HR2 News Letter, where monthly, I share tips and tricks as well as scientific information about the importance of mental health and wellbeing, in every aspect of our life, not just work. If you would like me to share some of these tips with you, let me know!