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How Employers Can Help Manage Anxiety in the Workplace

“I don’t want my colleagues to think that I don’t like or care about my job. It’s literally perfect. I don’t like how little I’ve been able to accomplish lately. How can I have an honest and frank discussion with my superiors about my mental state and still have them trust me to get things done and value me as an employee?

“I’m feeling so lost here and this job is seriously the best thing I have in my life. What do I tell them?”

Madalyn Parker wrote this on an online forum in the summer of 2014 after her medication stopped working and she found herself in the middle of a major depressive episode. She faced challenges with anxiety and depression in her childhood and throughout high school and college. But this was the first time she was struggling and her job was at stake.

Madalyn is not alone. In fact, one in five adults in the United States has a mental illness and many have felt the symptoms of severe anxiety while at work. And it’s hard.

Employees like Madalyn often suffer in silence with a fear that their mental health challenges may make them seem less valuable to the company and to their colleagues. In fact, a Gallup study found that only four in 10 employees feel that someone at their job cares about them as a person.

Many employers are fighting the stigma that surrounds mental health in the workplace and providing resources to staff who may be suffering in silence. Madalyn worked with her CEO to encourage open conversation across the organization about mental health and received the support she needed. These simple steps can help you start open and honest conversations about mental health at work and may help someone like Madalyn.

  1. Educate employees and managers about mental health conditions and challenges.
  2. Promote a work environment that acknowledges mental illness and supports those who might be experiencing it.
  3. Encourage the use of corporate resources like well-being and employee assistance programs.
  4. Foster realistic hope and optimism about treatment and recovery.

Mental Health First Aid at Work training provides useful information and practical techniques on how to approach and support a colleague in distress to help your organization build a resilient and productive workforce. Reach out to our team at MHFAatWork@TheNationalCouncil.org for more information and #BeTheDifference in your workplace today.