Tuesday, March 21, 2023 | Sha'ban 28, 1444 H
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Wellbeing at work

Addressing mental health wellbeing at the workplace improve the productivity of the employees and reduces their risk of developing stress and burnout

Last week a middle-aged man in Cairo ended his life by jumping to his death from the third floor of the company where he worked. His colleagues attributed this to work pressure as, according to theme, he was threatened to be terminated from his job due to poor performance. Whatever the exact cause of this sad incident one should learn from it how stress at the work can have negative consequences to our mental health wellbeing.

For most working age people, a job is more than a source of income, it is the place that we go to on daily bases and have social connections with our work colleagues who become our friends. Sometimes our job title defines us so you get to be called doctors, teachers or engineers even out side the work place so it’s not surprising that the way we feel at work affects our social life one way or another.

Work-life balance is a concept we all struggle to achieve at one point in our professional lives especially when times are hard, and people must work harder to meet deadline to avoid a demotion or termination. Therefore, some companies and organizations started developing employee’s wellbeing program that focus on the physical and mental health of the employees. By doing this they are not simply being kind to their staff but that are addressing the interest of the organization as such programs are likely to avoid loss of productivity and time taken off due to sickness and staff resignation. An interesting survey conducted in the UK asked employees about the causes of their stress reported that 34% of employees saying heavy workload, followed by 35% saying its “unfriendly colleagues” while 66% believed bad management to be the main cause of their stress and burnout at the workplace. These findings highlight the importance of acquiring practical skills such as showing empathy, compassion, and effective communication skills in improving staff wellbeing.

So what do wellbeing programs look like? There are various programs developed by companies around the world , some focus of creating a relaxing atmosphere at work by providing nurseries for working mothers , free or subsidized meals at the company canteen, free gym membership and regular social gathering for the staff outside the workplace so they get to connect and know each other at a personal level, while other companies focus more on providing health dedications materials about common mental health conditions or employe Councilors o support the employees, or sign up for a staff wellness program with a private mental health clinic so staff can get psychological support paid for by the organization. All these initiatives are helpful but not all organizations can afford them and not many staff would be willing to discuss their personal problems with a counselor employed by the same organisation for fear of being terminated or discriminated against due to their mental health issue. Therefore one needs to look after his or her own wellbeing by adopting a healthy life style which includes getting enough sleep, eating healthy diet and regular exercise, learning essential skills such as time management, and before all being kind to your self all the time.

(The writer is a senior consultant Psychiatrist at Sultan Qaboos University Hospital)

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