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Employee Wellness Get Inspired Mental Health 101 Work in the New Normal

6 Ways To Support Employees With Mental Health Problems

As mental health in the workplace becomes an increasing priority, business leaders must do more to care for their staff

Despite an increased awareness of mental health issues, many employees still struggle in silence because they either do not know where to go for help or they fear that they will encounter stigma and discrimination at work.

This lack of action can have serious implications for any organization’s bottom line. According to the World Health Organization, the estimated cost of depression and anxiety to the global economy is US$ 1 trillion per year in lost productivity. On the other hand, workplaces that promote mental health and support people with mental disorders are more likely to reduce absenteeism, increase productivity, and benefit from associated economic gains.

So how can business leaders manage and support their employees with mental health concerns? Below are some ways: 

  1. Make mental health training mandatory for managers and supervisors. A 2019 study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine revealed that of the 2,921 managers who had access to mental health training in their workplaces, all displayed an improved understanding of mental health overall, with half  reviewing the responsibilities of their staff in an effort to prevent possible mental health issues and 57% of them starting discussions with their employees to improve their understanding of anxiety and depression.
    Managers are in the perfect position to help colleagues in the workplace because they are the ones who have a better understanding of an employee’s day-to-day well-being and can provide a direct line for inquiries and support. Note that training does not mean instructing team leaders to diagnose and treat mental health concerns; instead, it’s teaching them what to do if they see signs and symptoms of emotional distress in their juniors, including how to obtain help.
  2. Support employees through listening rather than telling. The most meaningful and helpful way to fight the stigma of mental illness is to encourage all members of staff to be willing to listen when a colleague is talking about their experiences — and to listen with empathy. According to Rob Stephenson,  founder of InsideOut, a social enterprise working to end the stigma of mental ill-health in the workplace — “We don’t need to understand every condition, or every person, to be good, human listeners. We just need to become better active listeners in the workplace, so we can say ‘OK, I can see you’re struggling here, let’s have a…chat and you can tell me about it.”
  3. Establish an employee assistance program (EAP) and encourage employees to use it. While many companies use an EAP to support workplace mental health, a 2017 study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information revealed that only 1%-5% of employees of a company avail of the benefits of an EAP due to stigma, shame, and concerns about confidentiality.
    Here are some things you can do to assuage their fears:
  • Communicate — during onboarding sessions and through visuals or email reminders — what EAP services are available and how these can help employees respond to personal or work issues. Emphasize that the services are confidential and free of charge. 
  • Provide direct access to mental health professionals via phone, email, or chat. This allows an extra layer of comfort and privacy.
  1. Use communication to reduce stigma and increase access to mental health resources. Don’t wait until Mental Health Awareness Month (May) or Suicide Prevention Month (September) to talk about mental health, EAP benefits, and other resources. 
  • Promote them frequently, such as in monthly newsletters, weekly departmental meetings, or even in casual virtual catch-ups. 
  • Ensure that your executives mention emotional well-being every time they talk about recruiting talent and building an inclusive culture that helps employees bring their best selves.
  • Offer webinars so employees can learn more about mental health and resilience.
  1. Promote holistic well-being. Mental health is more than just one’s state of mind; it involves several factors, including physical, social, emotional, and cultural wellness. Business leaders therefore need to integrate all aspects of this by:
  • Building as much flexibility as possible into all employees’ schedules so that they have opportunities for work-life balance. A 2019 survey conducted by UK-based event management company Wildgoose discovered that 39 per cent of those who worked flexibly had benefited from better mental health and increased productivity.
  • Promoting or offering access to apps that can help with stress reduction, sleep, and meditation such as Headspace or Calm. 
  • Offering fitness center memberships, subsidies or reimbursements for fitness classes. Ultimate Kronos Group, an American multinational technology company, set up virtual fitness classes for employees and their children in the middle of 2020 and even held a competitive company-wide step challenge in October.
  • Encouraging employees to use their vacation time, such as by limiting the amount of vacation employees can carry over into the next year
  • Providing accommodations and developing a return-to-work process so that employees who need to take a leave of absence because of a mental health issue feel supported when they come back. An example would be letting the returning employee resume work step-by-step, gradually increasing work hours and task complexity until the symptoms of the mental health concern have subsided.
  1. Make work interesting, social, and fun. Create opportunities for employees to build connections with each other, such as through virtual social events and electronic message boards. When team members have strong positive relationships at work and  are able to tell their co-workers and managers what they struggle with and how they can best be supported, it opens communication and smooths out many misunderstandings, paving the way for higher productivity. 

It is an employer’s responsibility to create a workplace where people feel they can be open and supported. Helping employees who are unwilling to talk about their struggles is a daunting task, so it might be a good idea to partner with a mental health and well-being company to help you craft a mental health program for your workplace. MindNation (www.mindnation.com) is a one-stop shop for all your well-being needs. Their program is based on an individual’s holistic dimensions of wellness to ensure that services provided suit his or her unique requirements and objectives. Email them at [email protected] to learn more about their products and services. 

— Written by Jaclyn Lutanco-Chua of MindNation

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Featured Get Inspired Mental Health 101

Top 10 Mental Health Myths Debunked (Part 2 of 2)

This time we talk about suicide, medication, and why seeking professional help is important.

Last week, we discussed some common misconceptions about mental health (insert link). This week, Prof. Jhon Carandang returns to shed light on five more misunderstandings about mental wellness. 

  1. Mental health concerns are like cancer; the person can get better, but the condition will never go away. 

Prof. Carandang: “This is partly true, but there is no need to regard it in such a negative light. People can and do recover from their mental health concerns, but they will need to continuously attend therapy, take their medication, or religiously practice self-care to prevent relapses. With the right care and support, many people with mental health issues go on to live productive and fulfilled lives, have good relationships with others, and excel and work. ” 

  1. When my friends confide their problems to me, I always give them tons of advice but they just wouldn’t listen. So it’s their fault they can’t snap out of their depression/anxiety/stress.

Prof. Carandang: “This is because more often than not, people who are troubled or struggling do not need advice; all they require is someone who will listen to them. I honestly believe that listening is the highest form of kindness that you can show others; when you take a pause and try to understand someone else’s perspective, it is only then that you truly grasp what he or she needs. Even as a psychologist, there are many times when I don’t say anything during the entire hour of therapy, and my patients are thankful for it.

The only exception to this rule is when your friend is talking about committing self-harm, suicide, or harming other people. In this case, you need to convince them to seek the help of a professional immediately, or offer to accompany them to one. If they are resistant, reach out to a mental health professional yourself, so that he or she can give you tips on how to handle the situation and convince your friend to see an expert.”

  1. People who take medication for their mental health will become addicted to it or experience negative side effects.

Prof. Carandang: “Addiction and negative effects to medication only occur if the patient veers away from the dosage or treatment plan prescribed by his or her psychiatrist. Never self-medicate, and always show up for follow-up sessions even if you are already feeling fine.”

  1. People who commit suicide display warning signs before committing the act. Their family/friends should have spotted the signs and been there for them.

Prof. Carandang: “More often than not, people who have suicidal ideations do not show signs that they are thinking about taking their own lives. Just as not everyone who is sad is depressed, not everyone who is happy is not struggling inside. This is why we should be mindful of our words and actions, because someone who is thinking of suicide is already experiencing severe depression, and what we say or do can inadvertently be the trigger that pushes their vulnerabilities over the edge.”

  1. Therapy is a waste of money. Why spend money talking to a professional when I can just talk to my friends for free!

Prof. Carandang: “Don’t think of it as simply paying to talk to someone; think of it as similar to going to a doctor when you have a physical illness — we don’t balk about paying them when our physical health is on the line right? So why should it be any different when we need to consult with a psychologist or psychiatrist about our mental health? Now, if financial constraints are really the issue, I think it’s also the responsibility of the patient’s friends and loved ones to pool funds to provide the necessary mental health care to the patient. Think of it as your act of charity; you could literally be saving a life by donating money to cover the costs of therapy. Or you can help them look for companies that offer free counselling services.”

If you are struggling or know someone who is, MindNation psychologists are available 24/7 for teletherapy sessions. Book a session now thru bit.ly/mn-chat.

What other topics about mental health and wellbeing do you want us to cover? Let us know in the comments below. 

— Written by Jaclyn Lutanco-Chua of MindNation

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Employee Wellness Mental Health 101 Self Help Work in the New Normal

Warning Signs That Your Employee Has A Mental Health Concern

Knowing what to look for is the first step to opening a productive dialogue surrounding mental health and getting your team member the help they need

According to the WHO, 1 in 5 people all over the world will experience a mental health concern at some point in their lifetime. These statistics, compounded by the stressors of the COVID-19 pandemic, make it highly likely that someone in your workplace is experiencing mental health concerns like stress, depression, and anxiety. 

Because of the stigma surrounding mental illness, employees who are struggling may be reluctant to come forward. As a result, mental health concerns often go unrecognized and untreated, leading to bigger problems for the organization and the employee in terms of lowered productivity, increased absenteeism and presenteeism, and poor relationships with team members. 

It is important for managers to be able to identify the warning signs of mental health concerns. “Early detection and intervention may help to prevent problems from getting worse,” says psychologist Dr. Rhalf Jayson Guanco. “By identifying the issues that the team member is probably not aware of or does not acknowledge as problematic, but which impact or are more likely to impact on their well-being, we can determine if immediate action is required or if assistance from a qualified mental health professional will be necessary.”

According to Dr. Guanco, if your employee exhibits the signs and symptoms below for more than two weeks, it could be a sign of a mental health concern: 

Appearance and behavior

  • Appears untidy; displays poor hygiene
  • Trembles or shakes
  • Wears inappropriate attire 

Cognition

  • Seems confused or disoriented
  • Has gaps in memory of events
  • Has serious difficulty in problem solving

Emotion

  • Appears sad/depressed
  • Tends to be anxious for no apparent reason
  • Switches emotions abruptly

Speech

  • Speaks too quickly or too slowly
  • Vocabulary becomes inconsistent with the level of education
  • Stutters or has long pauses in speech

Thought patterns and logic

  • Seems to respond to unusual voices or “sees things”
  • Expresses racing, disconnected thoughts
  • Expresses bizarre or unusual ideas

Remember that mental health concerns are unlike other performance-related issues, so your approach must be different. Whether you consult your human resources department or the corporate department first, it’s important to gather opinions of experts before doing anything rash. As a team leader, you must have a plan that is win-win for your employee and your company. 

MindNation is an innovative mental health and well-being company that partners with like-minded organizations for happier, healthier, and more productive employees. Its comprehensive need-based program is based on each individual’s Well-being Capital © (a system that studies the Physical, Emotional, Mental, Social, and Cultural dimensions of well-being) to ensure that services provided suit each organization’s unique requirements and objectives. Drop us a line at [email protected] if you want to know more about our products and services. 

— Written by Jaclyn Lutanco-Chua of MindNation

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Employee Wellness Mental Health 101 Self Help Work in the New Normal

How To Say “No” At Work Without Putting People Off

Your goal is to ensure that disappointment doesn’t escalate to insult.

Mental health experts always advise us to say “No” to requests that make us feel stressed or uncomfortable so that we protect our boundaries and not feel overburdened. But this is easier said than done when it comes to the workplace, where begging off from a task assigned by a higher-up can negatively impact our career, while declining a client’s request for help can strain our relationship with them. In fact, a 2015 study by Linked In revealed that more than 58% of millennials globally consider themselves a “yes employee” – someone who does as they are told and is more apt not to question authority. This can result in a workforce that sees higher incidences of burnout, which can lead to mental health concerns.

So how can you say no to unreasonable requests, pointless meetings, busy work, and demanding clients without coming across as lazy, selfish, or disrespectful? The suggestions below might help: 

  • Show a valid reason. Don’t simply say “No.” Share your logic, the facts, and what motivated your decision. For example, don’t thumb down a proposal and have the team making conclusions about why you did so, i.e. “He doesn’t care about our opinion” or “It’s because she’s not benefitting from it.” Instead, cite the data and the thought process that led you to that position, so that you let others know that you gave careful consideration before making a decision. Say “I analyzed the pros and cons and believe we should turn this down because…” or “I cannot grant you this request because according to our company policy…
  • Offer an alternative. Instead of closing the door, offer something to smooth over the effect of your rejection, i.e. “I can’t help you right now but try me again when my current project has been completed” or “I don’t like this proposal but I’ll give you another week to come back with a better one…”
  • Be confident but humble. It’s important to take a firm stand, but not one where you come across as a know-it-all. You alienate more than you convince when you make statements like “The only reasonable conclusion we can draw is…” or “The right answer is…” Instead, use phrases like “I’ve concluded…” and “I believe…” to demonstrate a combination of resolve and humility that avoids provoking unnecessary conflict.
  • Be respectful. When saying no to a person of authority, particularly someone who might misinterpret your denial as disrespect, it can be helpful to ask permission to say no. This allows you to honor their authority while maintaining your integrity. For example, you could tell your superior, “You’ve asked me to take on a new project. I think it’s a bad idea for me to take it on, and I’d like to share my reasons. If, however, you don’t want to hear them, I’ll take it on and do my best. What would you like?” In most cases, the boss will feel obligated to hear you out.
    Now if the boss refuses to hear your reservations, you need to decide if this is an environment you want to spend a significant part of your life in.
  • Negotiate. Sometimes a “no” can turn into a “yes” if the other person is willing to modify the request or do something in return. Let’s say that your boss asks you to start working on a new project, and you know it’s not possible to do your other projects well if you have to add this one. Instead of saying, “I don’t see how I can do that” or “That’s not possible” — negotiate. Say something like, “Is this new project X a higher priority than project Y?  Because if we could move the deadline on Y by just a few days, then I can get X done.” 
  • Apologize and offer to do what you can.  Finally, when you ultimately say no, express your regret and offer to move as far in the direction of their request as possible. An example would be telling a customer “I’m afraid our current policies don’t allow this, but I will talk to my superior if we can do this in the future.” This lets the person know that even though you can’t fulfill this particular request, you hope to be able to fulfill the next one. 

Saying no isn’t being selfish. It’s being smart with the limited time you have each day, because no matter how many tasks and people you take on, the number of hours in a day remains the same so the amount of rest your body needs will also remain the same. By saying no and prioritizing your well-being, you become a healthier, happier, and more productive worker. 

— Written by Jaclyn Lutanco-Chua of MindNation

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Employee Wellness Get Inspired Mental Health 101 Self Help Work in the New Normal

5 Ways To Recharge Your Energy

Managing your energy more effectively throughout the day to boost productivity

In today’s fast-paced world, multitasking seems like a great way to get a lot done at once. But according to American-Canadian cognitive psychologist and neuroscientist Daniel Levitin, doing more than one thing at a time is taxing on the brain and drains precious mental energy. “Asking the brain to shift attention from one activity to another causes [parts of our brain] to burn up oxygenated glucose, the same fuel they need to stay on task,” he says. “The rapid, continual shifting we do with multitasking causes the brain to burn through fuel so quickly that we feel exhausted and disoriented after even a short time.” This leads to a rapid decline in decision-making skills, creativity, and productivity. 

“It’s funny to me to think about how quickly we freak out when our cell phone battery starts to weaken, but how seldom we even notice when our own brain power starts fading away,” says Salma Sakr, Chief Growth Officer at MindNation. 

“So in the same way we  keep an eye on our finances to make sure we don’t go bankrupt, it’s important we pay attention to how we spend and invest our energy so we don’t end up running out. “

How can we best replenish our mental energy and attain consistent peak performance when faced with so many things to do at work and at home? Salma suggests 5 ways we can keep our body and brain primed throughout the day:

  1. Start your day right
  • Hold off on checking email, social media, or any media for that matter, right when you open your eyes. “This way you can fuel your brain with something positive, inspiring, or energizing first,” Salma suggests. 
  •  Don’t rush through your breakfast, coffee, or smoothie. Take time to savor the meal. 
  • Try listening to a guided meditation or podcast, or reading a few pages of an inspirational book. 
  • Go for a walk, do some gentle yoga.
  • Add a little humor to the morning by sharing a funny story with a friend or family.

“Once you get started and you feel that energy starting to flow, you end up doing more than you expected and you actually enjoy it,” Salma says.

2. It’s not just WHAT you eat, but also HOW you eat

  • Make sure to eat slowly, and stop before you think you’re full. 
  • Also make sure that you’re eating often enough to maintain a consistent energy level. Going too long between meals can actually cause your energy to tank and even reduce your immunity.

3. Find time to move throughout the day

“I suggest you try to get up and move for at least 10 minutes every hour using a 50-minute, 10-minute work cycle during the day,” Salma offers. “If you feel more tired, or more stressed, you may want to shift to 25 minutes on and five minutes off, so that you’re recharging even more often. You can even combine strategies, whatever the day calls for.”

4. Don’t forget to practice self-care

“Incorporate the things you enjoy doing into your routine, such as listening to music, using aromatherapy, doing gratitude exercises, thinking about someone you care about, or watching a funny video,” advises Salma.

5. At night, unwind properly

  • Place your digital device out of reach, because it’s way too tempting to check in when it’s by your bed.
  •  “If you have to sleep with the TV on, make sure to choose shows that are relaxing or even boring, so your brain isn’t trying to pay attention,” Salma suggests. “Also, set a timer for the TV to turn off.” 
  • Listen to an audiobook or read a few pages of a book. “Most people who read before bed only actually read a few pages because their eyes start to get tired and their brain starts to recognize this consistent thing they do when they are ready to fall asleep,” shares Salma.
  • Create a quiet comfortable space to sleep in. Studies show that a cool temperature of about 20 degrees is best for the body to rest, and you should also minimize light and sound. 

Take a few moments right now to write down a couple of ways you can recharge your energy throughout the day. Make sure your plans are realistic, and keep them short and simple. Then, think about someone you could ask to join you from time to time to help you stick with your commitment.

Make sure to  repeat these new habits consistently enough for adaptations to start to add up.  “A good rule of thumb is  the power of two days — never miss two consecutive days of completing a new positive habit,” Salma shares. “You can miss a day — because let’s be honest, life gets in the way and all our plans need to be realistic — but fight the urge to miss a second day so you don’t fall back into your old habits.” So push yourself (though not too much) and use the ‘2-day rule’ as a way to build your habit. 

Finally, don’t be hard on yourself. It’s not easy to break out of old habits and build new ones so be patient, start small, and be kind to yourself. 

— Written by Jaclyn Lutanco-Chua of MindNation

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5 Ways To Build Remote Workforce Engagement

How can your team build and maintain social bonds in a time of social distancing? Find out below. 

An employee is considered “engaged” if he or she is fully absorbed by and enthusiastic about their work and has a positive attitude towards the organization. This leads them to take positive action to further the organization’s reputation and interests.

On the other hand, a disengaged employee may range from someone doing the bare minimum at work to an employee who is actively damaging the company’s work output and reputation.

When employees are engaged, they are more likely to invest in the work they do which leads to a higher quality of work produced.  In a study of companies with over 500 employees, researchers found that 71% of managers felt that employee engagement was one of the most important factors in overall company success.

Engagement rises when employees have strong relationships with their co-workers. In fact, according to research conducted by Gallup, employees who report having a best friend at work are seven times more likely to be engaged. But because the majority of workers are now working remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become a challenge for many to build and maintain social bonds at work, and companies are finding it difficult to keep employee engagement levels up.

What can team leaders do to build remote workforce engagement? Here are some ways: 

  1. Make time for small talk. Back when everyone was at a physical office, there were plenty of opportunities for idle talk, whether it’s chatting in the pantry during a coffee break or eating lunch together at the corner restaurant. As a leader, continue to provide opportunities for some socializing during remote working hours by reminding yourself that not all conversations have to be about work. Don’t be afraid to drop the occasional off-topic email, Slack message, or funny meme, and remember to acknowledge employees’ birthdays or other special occasions during regular team meetings.
  1. Organize occasional face-to-face gatherings. Even though most work can be done virtually, it does not mean that it should be done so all the time. Plan an in-person get-together once or twice a quarter in a setting where COVID-19 safety protocols are followed. This can be as simple as an outdoor restaurant so people can share a meal to a whole-day company retreat in a nature setting. 
  2. Provide clear direction. Engagement does not mean that everyone on the team has to be besties with one another; it’s also about making sure that everyone feels that they are still part of a team and not feeling isolated. What do they do next? Who can they turn to? Not being able to answer these questions can leave a remote employee completely disengaged.

So just like you’d take a new employee through an onboarding process, make sure that a remote employee knows about the tips, tools, and processes that will help them succeed. 

Who can they contact if they need help?

What is the official work schedule and working hours? 

What sort of output should be expected from them?

  1. Give and encourage feedback during online meetings. During physical gatherings, you can get insight on whether or not a team member is engaged through non-verbal cues like facial expressions. Maintaining the same connection can be difficult during virtual meetings if you have to deal with connectivity issues or if there are just too many people on a call. So make sure to help remote employees stay engaged by reducing distracting noise during video-conferencing sessions, stopping to gain their feedback whenever possible, as well as mentioning them when they say something laudable. 

In addition, help remote workers align more seamlessly by providing the meeting agenda ahead of time so that those with technical issues can still follow along. 

  1. Offer rewards. The best way to motivate people, whether working on-site or remotely, is rewarding them for efforts and positive behaviors. Some things you can do apart from the standard congratulatory email:
  1. Gift them with non-work related classes they can access for free or at a reduced cost. By giving them an opportunity to take part in a wide variety of options such as exercise or cooking you are even supporting their mental and physical wellbeing.
  2. Give out movie or music gift cards so employees can choose options online from the comfort of their home.
  3. If you have company swag, mail them to an employee for a job well done or as a simple token of appreciation.

By creating and encouraging meaningful connections with your remote workforce, you motivate and inspire them to become advocates of your organization and make them happier, healthier, and more productive team members. 

— Written by Jaclyn Lutanco-Chua of MindNation

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Employee Wellness Get Inspired Mental Health 101 Work in the New Normal

8 Ways To Improve Diversity And Inclusion In Your Workplace

A diverse and inclusive team positively impacts creativity, innovation, and the company’s bottomline 

Workplace diversity refers to a company that employs people of varying characteristics, such as gender, age, religion, race, ethnicity, cultural background, sexual orientation, languages, education, abilities, etc. Such a team brings diverse viewpoints and perspectives to the organization, all of which can help you develop great new products or services and ways to cater to customers. 

Partner with MindNation to build a workplace that is respectful and inclusive for all. Email [email protected] now.

A diverse workforce has many direct and tangible benefits, such as:

  • Higher revenue. Companies that have more diverse management teams have 19% higher revenue.
  • More innovation. Inclusive companies are 1.7 times more likely to be innovation leaders in their market.
  • Better decision-making. When diverse teams made a business decision, they outperformed individual decision-makers up to 87% of the time.
  • Higher rates of job acceptance. 67% of job seekers said a diverse workforce is important when considering job offers.
  • Better performance than competitors. Racially and ethnically diverse companies outperform industry norms by 35%.

Hiring a diverse team, however, is just the first step to success. The next thing to do is to create an inclusive culture, one where people from all backgrounds feel welcome. Inclusivity can contribute fully to the organization’s success, and is the key to maintaining diversity in the workplace. 

Below are ways you can support inclusion and diversity in your workplace: 

  1. Make sure your management team models diversity and inclusion. The makeup of your top executives speaks volumes about your culture and sends a strong message not just to your employees but also to customers, partners, and shareholders . Are men and women equally represented? What about people from various cultural and religious backgrounds?
  1. Observe diverse traditions, celebrations, and holidays from other cultures. The easiest and most fun way to do this would be to create a culturally diverse holiday calendar in the office. Encourage your colleagues to get involved and find appropriate ways to celebrate these different traditions. It can be wonderful for team-building and a great way for colleagues at different levels of the organization to connect. 

When larger organized celebrations are not practical, make it a point to personally acknowledge a significant religious or cultural holiday. Even just sending a greeting via email can mean a lot to a colleague especially if he or she is far from home. 

Apart from celebrations, be sensitive to your colleagues’ cultural or religious practices. For example, avoid scheduling client lunches during a time of fasting or holding meetings during a time of prayer.

  1. Foster diverse thinking. This is important because different people from different backgrounds and generations sometimes have vastly different perspectives on all sorts of issues, from how they compose an email to how they receive feedback during employee reviews. Make sure that team members cultivate their empathetic skills, so that they are able to understand how other people at the company think.
  1. Strengthen anti-discriminatory policies. Explicitly prohibit offensive behavior (e.g. derogatory comments towards colleagues of a specific gender or ethnicity), and reprimand, demote, or terminate offenders depending on the severity of their act. By protecting your employees from offensive and harmful behaviors, you promote a positive and inclusive work environment. 
  1. Be aware of unconscious bias in the evaluation process and promotion opportunities.

Some ways to do this include: 

  • Rewriting job descriptions so they are gender neutral and use words that strike a balance of gendered descriptors and verbs
  • Creating a blind system of reviewing resumes so you don’t see demographic characteristics
  • Setting diversity goals as an organization, so that you can keep track of your progress.
  1. Segment employee engagement surveys by minority groups. An annual pulse survey is common among companies, but many neglect to segment that data according to gender, generation, ethnicity, etc. By only looking at total numbers, you might miss the whole picture and an opportunity to identify issues pertaining to those groups.
  2. Have an open-door policy. One of the best ways to learn what employees care about is one-on-one talks with their manager. In order for these discussions to truly be effective, managers must have an “open door” policy so that workers feel comfortable in speaking their mind honestly and openly.
  3. Offer diversity and inclusion training. This helps employees understand how cultural differences can impact how people work, and interact at work. It can cover anything from concepts of time and communication styles to self-identity and dealing with conflict. 

Promoting inclusiveness and diversity within your workplace is one of the best ways to foster an open-minded, global company culture. Not only does this make good business sense—helping your company to better understand colleagues, clients, and customers around the world—it also makes the workplace a more interesting and personally enriching environment for everyone.

— Written by Jaclyn Lutanco-Chua of MindNation

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Featured Get Inspired Mental Health 101 Self Help

Top 10 Mental Health Myths Debunked (Part 1 of 2)

We compiled five widespread mental health myths and asked our expert to address them one by one.

Are people with mental health concerns crazy or dangerous? Can friends who are depressed or anxious “snap out of it” if they try hard enough? Are teenagers immune to mental health concerns? Prof. Jhon Carandang, a registered psychologist and behavioral therapist with the Love Institute, helps us answer these questions.

  1. Mental illness is rare. All my friends and family members are fine, and so am I!
    Prof. Carandang: “It only SEEMS rare, and there are two reasons for that:

One — there is still not much awareness yet about the signs and symptoms of mental health concerns. Because of this, people don’t know that they or their loved ones are already suffering from depression, anxiety, or other mental disorders.

The second reason is the stigma surrounding mental health concerns. Even if people know they need to seek treatment or help, they are afraid to let others know or even talk about it because they will be labelled negatively.” (see #2)

  1. People with mental health concerns are crazy/unpredictable/unfun to be with so I should not hire them, get into a romantic relationship with them, or even be friends with them.
    Prof. Carandang: “It’s true that some mental health issues can be difficult to deal with, but only a small subset of people with mental health concerns display aggressiveness towards the general population. And if they do, the behavior stems from complex, multiple, overlapping factors (such as family history, personal stressors, and socioeconomic factors) and not because of the mental health concern itself. Many people with mental health concerns are responsible employees, great friends, and reliable romantic partners.  

Also, it’s not that they do not want to do fun activities with you, it’s because they are struggling with something inside that only they can understand, and this struggle can be very tiring and even debilitating, leaving no room for zoom parties, exercising, or eating out.
Instead of shunning people with mental health concerns, we should do our best to understand their struggles, empathize with them, and be patient. 

  1. Mental health concerns are caused by parental neglect or being scolded or spanked too often. It’s all the parents’ fault!

Prof. Carandang: “Mental health concerns are caused by many factors, and traumatic childhood experiences are only one of them. It is not right to blame a person’s por mental health on a bad childhood. There are people who grew up in loving families who end up having mental health concerns, just as there are children with turbulent family histories who grow up being able to cope with stress and negative emotions very well.”

  1. People affected can snap out of it if they try hard enough.

Prof. Carandang: “We are not in a position to know how much a person can handle, because we can never know the full story behind what he or she is going through. They could already be tired from fighting an inner battle that we cannot see. To say that someone can just ‘snap out of it if they try hard enough’ is a sign of apathy when what we should be communicating is empathy.”

  1. Adolescents don’t have mental health problems — their ups and downs are a part of puberty.

Prof. Carandang: “No one is exempted from mental issues — not by age, race, gender, wealth, or profession. Everyone is vulnerable, even young people if they have been subjected to harmful, neglectful, or stressful situations.” 

Stay tuned for Part 2 of “Top 10 Mental Health Myths  Debunked,” coming next Wednesday, January 13, 2021. What other questions or myths about mental health would you like us to talk about? Let us know in the comments below!

If you or a loved one is struggling with a mental health concern and you need to ease your anxieties, you can always reach out to MindNation psychologists thru bit.ly/mn-chat. Teletherapy sessions are available 24/7 and rest assured that all conversations are absolutely confidential.   

— Written by Jaclyn Lutanco-Chua of MindNation

Categories
Employee Wellness Get Inspired Mental Health 101 Work in the New Normal

5 Ways Managers Can Care For Their Mental Health

Take care of your wellbeing first so that you can provide care and support for your team members and subordinates

Work is inherently stressful, but working in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic has brought on unprecedented pressures in the workplace. 

“Uncertainty breeds anxiety, and we are living in uncertain times. Between rising numbers of Covid-19 cases, questions about whether or not to reopen economies and businesses, unprecedented months-long lockdown measures, and the economic fallout of the pandemic, we don’t know what will come next. And that’s taking a toll on our mental health, including at work,” says Monique Ong, founder of MindNation, a mental health and wellbeing company. 

It’s not just the rank-and-file who are feeling the strain; even workplace leaders are bearing the brunt of isolation, loss of work-home boundaries, and work overload that leads to mental health concerns like depression and anxiety. This is concerning because according to a 2015 article by Canadian Business, “even sub-clinical levels of depression are enough to detract from transformational leadership.” The article adds: “The negative effects on leadership go further: Both sub-clinical levels of depression and anxiety are linked with higher levels of abusive supervision.” 

If you are an executive or manager, it’s important that you take care of your mental health first, not just because it affects your leadership but also because it sets the tone for the rest of the team’s wellbeing. “It’s much like the rule in an airplane about putting in your own oxygen mask first before assisting others; you have to take care of yourself so you can do the same for everyone else,” says Monique. 

Here are some ways you can improve your mental health: 

  1. Know the difference between the things you can control and those that you cannot. “When you focus too much on what you can’t control (i.e. difficult co-workers or the neverending piles of paperwork) you take energy and attention away from the things that you CAN control (i.e. how you respond to the co-worker or how you manage your time),” points out Monique. “This makes us less effective and potentially leads to the outcomes we fear the most, such as arguments with the colleague or not achieving work-life balance.”

So the next time you find yourself worrying or feeling uncertain about a particular area of your life, try using the questions below to clarify where you have control, where you don’t, and how to focus on what matters: 

  1. Think of an ongoing unresolved situation in your life. Write a brief outline of the facts and why it feels unresolved for you.
  2.  What can you control in this situation? Make a list.
  3. What can’t you control in this situation? Make a list.
  4. Be honest with yourself — on which of the above things are you spending most of your energy and attention right now?
  5. How can you focus more on the things you can control? What would that look like?

“Once you know that you are doing as much as you reasonably can to create a healthy happy space in your mind, the more at peace you will feel about all the variables outside of your control,” says Monique. “This does not mean that you are free from nerves or anxiety, but that input and effort can give you deeper self-trust and veer away from feelings of hopelessness and anxiety.” 

2. Reframe your thinking. This means identifying your negative and unhelpful thoughts and replacing them with more positive or adaptive ones.Examples of negative thoughts include:

  1. Limiting beliefs, i.e. “I am not good enough to head this project”
  2. When you wish that something acceptable were better a.k.a the fear of missing out “

The next time a negative thought enters your head, replace them with positive ones by:

  1. Using milder wording. “I hate that guy” will only make your anger worsen; “I’m not a fan of that guy” sounds better.
  2. Ask yourself ‘What can I learn from this?’” This way, every obstacle becomes a learning opportunity.

3. Practice self-compassion. This means being understanding towards yourself during times that you feel inadequate, unsuccessful, or are suffering. Instead of beating yourself up with self-criticism, treat yourself gently and recognize that you are only human. “Nobody is perfect; all humans suffer and make mistakes, so self-compassion means recognizing that problems and trials are things that everyone in the world goes through and not just you alone,” says Monique.

4. Prioritize self-care. Focus on yourself and do activities that nurture your physical, mental, and emotional health. “It seems easy and simple, but it’s the first thing that people forget about when they become busy,” reminds Minique. “Practicing proper self-care habits will keep you from reaching the point of exhaustion, helping you function normally under stress, and refocus to help you perform better.”

5. Seek help. “The truth is we’re all going to struggle at some point. We’re going to have moments when we can’t find the strength to stand, or when we just can’t do it alone. And in those moments are when we have to know that it’s okay to lean on others. It’s okay to seek assistance and love outside of ourselves,” says Monique. “Strength does not always have to come from your body. It can come from surrounding yourself with people who love you, and from people and resources outside of your expertise.” If you are feeling anxious and overwhelmed, a good place to start to get help from MindNation psychologists. Book a teletherapy session thru bit.ly/mn-chat.  

Stay Afloat!

By taking care of your own mental health, you become a more effective, empathetic, and perceptive leader and by extension create happier, healthier, and more productive teams. 

Fore more information about MindNation’s products and services, visit www.mindnation.com

— Written by Jaclyn Lutanco-Chua of MindNation

Categories
Employee Wellness Get Inspired Mental Health 101 Self Help Work in the New Normal

7 Ways To Be a Leader (Not Just A Manager)

While leadership and management go hand in hand, they are not the same thing

“Leaders” and “managers” are often used interchangeably, and while there is some overlap between the work that they do, there are also important differences. 

In his seminal 1989 book “On Becoming a Leader,”  Warren Bennis — American scholar, organizational consultant, and widely regarded as a pioneer in the field of leadership studies — compiled a list of these differences: 

— A manager administers, a leader innovates

— A manager maintains, a leader is an original

— A manager focuses on systems and structure, a leader focuses on people

— A manager relies on control, a leader inspires trust

— A manager has a short-range view, a leader has a long-range perspective

— A manager asks “how” and “when,” a leader asks “how” and “why”

— A manager has his or her eye always on the bottom line, a leader’s eye is on the horizon

— A manager imitates, a leader originates

— A manager accepts the status quo, a leader challenges it

— A manager does things right, a leader does the right thing

The best managers are leaders, but you do not necessarily have to be in a managerial position to be a leader. Any time you act in a way that inspires, encourages, or engages others, you are a leader. 

That said, whether you are a veteran or aspiring manager, possessing strong leadership skills is important because not only will it lead to better job performance, you also gain the knowledge and opportunity to influence the context and environment in which decisions get made. We’ve outlined below seven steps to help you get started on how to be  a leader at work:

  1. Work on your mental and emotional health

As a leader, you will be expected to set the tone during stressful and uncertain times, of which the workplace has many. This does not mean you should have the answers to all the problems; rather, it means you need to have the conviction and resilience to move forward. So not only should you be ready for anything, you also need to bring creativity, humor, and curiosity to stressful situations so that others can rely on you when things become difficult. 

  1. Practice self-awareness

Companies are not the only ones that have a brand identity — people do, too. A person’s work brand is based on his or her strengths, weaknesses, and what they contribute to the organization? As a leader, you need to be aware of your work brand so that you can develop yourself and, as a result, your leadership. So always seek feedback about your performance, whether it’s from a peer, someone more senior, and even from more junior staff — and take these seriously and professionally. 

  1. Adopt a growth mindset. 

Find ways to constantly improve yourself and your situation, whether it’s by honing your existing skills or developing new ones. 

  1. Be supportive. 

A true leader is a great facilitator. So encourage others to speak up instead of constantly offering only your opinions. Publicly recognize them when they do an excellent job, and resolve differences constructively. Create a safe space for people to open up to you if something is bothering them. Doing these builds trust in the workplace, creates rapport, develops positive mental well-being, and gives others the opportunity to improve themselves as well.

  1.  Think strategically.

A good leader is always goal-oriented — he or she has a plan on how to achieve those goals and the determination to act on them. When dealing with team members, it means you recognize the potential in everyone and know how to delegate to make the best of their strengths. 

  1. Be innovative.

Constantly think of ways to set your business apart from competitors. When you contribute creative ideas that are out of the box but benefit your company’s bottom line, you are exemplifying true leadership.

  1. Take the initiative. 

When you have done all of the above, it means you have led your team to working at maximum efficiency. This means you now have some time to learn new things or take on more responsibility. Don’t be afraid to ask management for more responsibility so you can further level up your game. When it comes to developing your leadership skills, the sky is the limit. 

As with other traits, leadership is a quality that needs to be shaped. By practicing empathy, openness, and self-awareness, professionals of all levels can develop leadership skills and find out how to bring out the best in themselves and others.

— Written by Jaclyn Lutanco-Chua of MindNation