Shedding Light on Mental Health in the Workplace

Shedding Light on Mental Health in the Workplace

By: Nelson Hang
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Mental health is a major concern for anyone; including myself, my fellow peers and colleagues. We may think that our personal battles, such as dealing with heartbreak or stressing about priorities in and outside of work, won’t affect us professionally, but in reality stress can impinge upon your ability to do your job.  There is a saying that if there is a crack in your armor, something will eventually go through it. This applies to the stressors that can affect your work and how it is best to address them immediately before they get progressively worse. 

Accept the fact that things are not alright and talk to your supervisor

I know it’s hard for some of us to accept the fact that things in our lives might not be okay.  We want to keep certain things to ourselves to avoid any additional problems with our employer. Remember that your supervisor is human too and they are there to help you to the best of their ability if anything is impacting your mental health. At times, whenever I had issues of my own that affected my work, I would always speak to my supervisor about what is happening in my life. In most cases, they will offer you guidance and sympathize with your issue. Social stigma around mental health shouldn’t exist in any environment. Talking about it with a colleague such as your supervisor is much better than keeping it in your heart.  Dealing with it on your own can become overwhelming and negatively impact your relationships, work and health. There is a reason why campaigns such as “Not Myself Today” and “Bell Let’s Talk” exist.

Go out on walks in nature 

Nature may be your greatest natural remedy and it can be a good idea to take some time off and walk around in your area. Not only does this help relieve your stress, but it can also help inspire epiphanies for a project that you might be puzzled with. It is an excellent exercise routine because you should always take care of your body, especially since sitting in your office chair for hours can really ruin your back. You don’t have to do it alone either - if your colleagues are up for going on a nature walk with you, then the more the merrier. It’s a really good way to connect with other coworkers that you might not be able to properly connect with in the office. 

Use office health resources

Nowadays, most offices provide staff with resources to better improve their health and relieve stress. These services can include, but are not limited to, gym facilities, in-office counseling, scheduled massages, nap rooms, and arranged team days. As a recommendation, it is best to ask this question if you are concerned about mental health and want to inquire if there are any resources that can help employees handle their mental health needs.  

Aim for your best in this moment

The final mental health hurdle I cannot emphasize enough is that nobody is perfect and you should never aim to be perfect!  In both my personal and professional life, I have seen many shatter their relationships with either their significant other, friends or, in the worst cases, their fellow colleagues because they hid their problems and damaged their mental health. My closing message is to take care of yourself and don’t develop a stigma about hiding an issue. No one deserves to suffer alone and no one deserves to have their voice left unheard. This is a message I take to heart. As an advocate for mental health, I view this quote as true and so should you. 

I and many of our fellow co-op candidates, advisors, potential supervisors, co-workers, and friends do not want to see you go through mental health issues alone. There is a reason why you are part of the co-op program and the answer is to learn -this is one of those important lessons that you must learn. Mental health will impact you professionally and can be a very big concern not only for you but your fellow colleagues as well. You aren’t perfect and you never will be; life is a continuous learning curve. 

End the stigma, let’s talk about mental health, form dialogues and accept that we are not alone. Hiding your problems won’t solve anything, it only makes them worse. Accept the fact that it is perfectly okay to be vulnerable. 

For more resources, please reach out to SFU Health and Counselling Services or download My SSP to get 24/7 counselling support, book counsellor appointments, and access mental health informational resources. 


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Posted on February 08, 2019