May is National Mental Health month and in the Latino community, it’s something we rarely talk about. It’s important to talk about mental health because poor mental health and stress can have a negative impact on employees and the workforce environment. When it comes to small business owners, the hours are long, the work is overwhelming, and many feel that there’s no time for mental health and wellness and this needs to change.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), depression causes an estimated 200 million lost workdays each year, costing employers between $17 billion to $44 billion. During COVID, workers experienced even more struggles. A survey conducted by Vida Health showed that 88 percent of adults had experienced more depressive symptoms during the pandemic, and nearly half of them said they lost interest in doing things, had trouble sleeping, and had feelings of hopelessness. The worst part is that forty-seven percent of them thought that getting help was a sign of weakness.
What can you do?
A model designed by the Wellness Council of America (WELCOA) offers the following points to consider when helping an employee who is facing mental health struggles:
- Show empathy. Empathy often comes in the form of compassionate listening and language.
- Listen. Listening allows us to be present with another person without having to solve their problems or exert emotional caregiving that allows for others to feel heard and acknowledged. Listening provides people with a sense of connection and safety to be able to speak their truth with someone who is capable of withholding judgment.
- Be aware that anxiety can spread. Anxiety is part of the body’s natural defense system as an alert to a threat, especially something that is unknown, vague, or that we can’t control. Though a natural part of who we are as humans, anxiety does present both physical and mental symptoms. Therefore, it’s especially important in times of crisis to help others move to a mental and emotional state of safety.
- Practice compassionate caring. Avoid statements that begin with “at least” as these statements portray that one’s feelings or experiences aren’t hard enough or could be worse. Instead, lean into statements with the words or sentiment of “me too,” which becomes an anchor of connection.
Self-care tips in the workplace
- Take days off, and don’t feel guilty about it
- Take breaks
- Get up and stretch
- Declutter your workspace
- Take three deep breaths before a meeting
- Drink cold water throughout the day
- Eat healthily
- Take a short walk and get some fresh air
- Take a break from watching and reading the news
- Take a break from social media
- Be open about how you feel
- Practice compassion and empathy with yourself and others