When Your Job Harms Your Mental Health

At work, Naomi Osaka advocated for her well-being. Here’s how you can do it, too.

We’ve all been Naomi Osaka at some point in our lives, haven’t we?

OK, we may never know what it’s like to be the second-ranked tennis player in the world, or to be the highest-paid female athlete in the world.

It’s not uncommon for many of us to encounter situations that are detrimental to our mental health – at work or in our personal lives – feeling torn between social norms and self-preservation.

During the lead-up to the French Open, Ms. Osaka announced she wouldn’t “do any press” to protect her mental health. She skipped her postmatch news conference after winning her first-round match on Sunday. She explained in an Instagram post that she was feeling vulnerable and anxious, and that press events give her “huge waves of anxiety.”

Tennis officials were not pleased with her decision to avoid the press. Her fine was $15,000, and she was threatened with expulsion from the French Open by the leaders of the four Grand Slam tournaments – the Australian, French and United States Opens.

As a result, Ms. Osaka withdrew from the tournament. It is true that I have suffered long bouts of depression since the U.S. Open in 2018 and have had a hard time coping with it,” she wrote on social media.

No matter what kind of work you do, your job can have an impact on your mental health. As Ms. Osaka noted, you have choices when it comes to maintaining and improving your health.

Benjamin F. Miller, the chief strategy officer for Well Being Trust, a national foundation focused on mental health and well-being, said his organization would not fault her if she sprained her ankle. Mental health is equally, if not more, important than physical health, but we have this arbitrary standard of what’s acceptable.

A survey of over 5,000 employees conducted by Mental Health America last year found that 83 percent felt emotionally drained from work, and 71 percent strongly agreed the workplace affects their mental health. Despite the fact that these respondents are not representative of the general population – they most likely found the survey when visiting the organization’s mental health screening tools – their responses illustrate just how anxious some workers have become over time.

There is a disproportionate amount of emotional stress experienced by women and people of color both inside and outside of the workplace. According to federal data, women are twice as likely to suffer from depression as men. Black people are less likely than non-Hispanic white people to receive treatment for depression or prescription medications. Black women were less likely to receive the support they needed to advance in their fields than white women, according to a report by Lean In and McKinsey & Company in 2020.

In standing up for her needs, Ms. Osaka, who is of Black and Asian descent, acted admirably, several mental health experts said. Being aware of signs that we might need to make changes at work or seek professional help can benefit us all.

Evaluate your feelings

Doctor, a psychiatrist at Washington University in St. Louis, said everyone is aware of their baseline functioning at work. If you notice you’re losing interest in your job or your productivity plummets, it’s an indication something is wrong, she explained.

It might be that you dread starting work every day, or that you feel so anxious that you have trouble thinking about everything you have to do. It may be that your emails are piling up and you aren’t communicating with people as much as you used to. If you’re feeling ineffective in your job, you may also start engaging in more negative self-talk, such as “I’m no good at my job anyway.”. “I’m useless,” he said.

When work affects your mood to the point that it starts to damage your personal relationships, it’s a major warning sign, she said. You may find yourself picking more fights with your partner, becoming more irritable with your children, or avoiding social events.

Take a moment to consider what might be causing these feelings. Is there one aspect of your job responsibilities that causes you most distress? Have you not been treated for an underlying health problem, such as depression? Could it be a combination of the two?

Get support

Inger Burnett-Zeigler, an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine who studies Black women’s mental health, advises seeking help from a trusted friend, mentor, coworker, peer group or therapist once you realize you need it.

“It should be a place where you feel seen, heard, and validated, a place where you can fully express yourself without fear of judgment, she said.

Employee assistance programs are also offered by many employers, offering short-term counseling from licensed therapists or referrals to outside experts who can help with specific problems. Even though these services are often advertised as confidential, some employees may feel uncomfortable using them.

Additionally, your company may have partnerships with other organizations that offer wellness classes or career coaching for free. Experts recommend exploring all options.

Since the last several years, employers have become more aware of and progressive in their approach to mental health issues, according to Michael Thompson, president and chief executive of the National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions. It has been reinforced in spades by the pandemic.”

The organization of Mr. Thompson recently surveyed 151 employers who buy health insurance and found that 72 percent were seeking to improve mental health access for their employees, and 16 percent were considering it.

Set boundaries

With the help of a supportive person, you can develop a plan to improve your work life and emotional well-being.

What do you need most: a short-term disability leave, or more flexibility in your work schedule? How often and when should you respond to work messages?

Make sure you consider how your proposed solution will work within the context of your team before addressing any of this with your supervisor. Show how your idea will benefit the group as a whole.

“”It’s very difficult to think about the team in general when you’re stressed out and dealing with mental health issues,” said John Quelch, dean at the Miami Herbert Business School in Coral Gables, Fla. In spite of this, he added, one must “get in the head of your employer” in his book “Compassionate Management of Mental Health in the Modern Workplace.”.”

Mental health problems have been prevalent throughout the pandemic. In June of 2020, 40 percent of adults in the United States had mental health or substance abuse issues, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report.

Mental Health America’s president and CEO Paul Gionfriddo said it’s OK to admit you’re struggling. In fact, he explained, “Most employers will ask, ‘How can I help you?’”

Alternatively, you may decide to keep your concerns private and discuss them with your therapist. Experts say it is crucial to establish healthy work boundaries.

Regardless of your job function, productivity or how others might evaluate you, you are a valuable human being, Doctor said. “When you feel self-doubt and not belonging, don’t lose sight of the unique talents and ideas you bring to the workplace.”

But what if your efforts to address your emotional wellbeing at work have failed, or the work environment has become toxic? As a result, experts said, it’s probably best to look for another job, especially if you’ve been ridiculed, threatened or abused by your manager.

An employer cannot discriminate against you because of your mental health condition. Moreover, according to the You are legally entitled to a reasonable accommodation if you suffer from a qualifying condition, such as major depression or post-traumatic stress disorder, that would help you do your job, such as the ability to schedule work around therapy appointments, a quiet office space, or the ability to work from home, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

We need to recognize that anxiety and depression are real,” Mr. Gionfriddo said. The time is right for people to do a personal assessment, since there are opportunities for more meaningful work to be found.”

Leave a Comment