The Importance of Mental Health in the Workplace
Workplace struggle is real, especially in the HVAC industry. Employers and employees alike can experience work-related stress. Stress causes around one million workers to miss work every day. No one is immune to stress. The American Institute of Stress reports that 83% of US workers suffer from work-related stress. Recognizing and normalizing men’s mental health, especially in a male-dominated industry like HVAC, is key to providing a safe and inclusive environment for your workers.
Men and women cope with stress and anxiety very differently. It is important to be sympathetic toward each gender’s coping mechanisms. Unfortunately, there is a stigma surrounding men’s mental health. There is always a hesitation with men to be open about their feelings. Over the years, the use of the phrase “man up” made it near impossible for men to feel comfortable talking about emotions without judgment or looking weak. In a survey taken by Medical News Today, among 360 respondents with direct experience of depression or suicidal ideation, more male than female respondents said that they would feel embarrassed about seeking formal treatment for depression. As a result of all the judgment surrounding men’s mental health, the number of mental health-related deaths amongst men has been rising over the years.
Being transparent with your employees about how all men experience stress can help to break down the stigma regarding mental health issues. Some ways an employer can provide stress relief resources include:
- Offer opportunities for employees to share what is causing their stress with others.
- Provide open listening situations where employees feel comfortable sharing emotions.
- Connect your team with a support team that can help men understand and accept the normality of feeling stressed.
- Provide mental healthcare options as an employee benefit.
Depression is another lingering issue in today’s workforce. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that more than 300 million people worldwide suffer from depression. People of every gender, race, etc. experience depression. There should never be a feeling of embarrassment when talking about personal struggles with mental health. While men often keep their mental health struggles to themselves, women are a lot more willing and outspoken about their struggles. Over the years, women have created an accepting culture surrounding mental health. This acceptance needs to make its way over to the men’s side of mental health.
It is important to recognize the signs of depression in a man whether it is for yourself, a friend, family member, coworker, etc. Depression can be exhibited differently by men compares to women. Some emotional signs of depression in men can be irritation, anger, and aggression. Men with depression can also experience racing heartbeats, digestive issues, weight changes, and headaches, Men are more likely to reach out to a doctor when experiencing physiological symptoms than emotional symptoms when both are just as life-altering.
Although there isn’t the same stigma surrounding women’s mental health, it is just as important for women to understand how they are affected. Women are twice as likely as men to have a depressive episode, according to the National Institute of Mental Health and the WHO. Growing up, girls are more likely to be diagnosed with anxiety than men which can last a lifetime and even develop into depression as they continue to face new challenges in their everyday lives as they age. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shared that from 2013 to 2016, 10.4 percent of women were found to have depression, compared with 5.5 percent of men. While we are shining a light on the importance to create an accepting mental-health safe work culture for men, it is equally as important to make sure the women in the HVAC community are happy and healthy.
There are simple steps you can implement in your daily life to reduce stress and increase happiness. Exercise, a balanced diet, a regular sleep pattern, and an improved mindset can be a game-changer when it comes to mental health! Whether it’s lifting weight or going on a walk, exercise releases endorphins and makes your unsolvable problems seem a little bit more manageable. Eating healthy and not binge eating, or eating too little, raise your serotonin levels which regulate moods. A proper night’s sleep is something that you have been told from a young age, and it is extremely important. Staying up late and worrying about your problems or finding ways to distract yourself from them is not beneficial to your mental health. It will make you more stressed thinking about all the things you still need to do and solve none of your problems. Sleep is like hitting the pause and refresh button on your life. Pausing your tasks and taking a break to refresh yourself will recharge you for the next day. Lastly, mindset is everything! Positivity is key. When you have a positive outlook on life, it makes you realize how great your life is even in the most stressful occasions. Decompressing and focusing on the things you are grateful for can help put into perspective how minuscule the work stress is.
If you or anyone you know is struggling and is thinking of taking an unreversible step, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 and just talk with them. The darkness is a temporary state and there is help available. Do not take permanent action over a momentary condition.
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