Mental Health in the Workplace

Mental Health in the Workplace

By Betty Agosto

Stress in the workplace is not uncommon, especially in the accounting field.  Although accountants are used to managing the stress surrounding major tax filing deadlines, 2020 has felt like the never-ending tax season.  In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, deadlines were extended and there have been numerous legislative revisions that continue to be implemented and discussed.   Another aspect of COVID-19 that has impacted not only accountants, but many in the workforce, is the requirement to work from home.  Working from home can manifest isolation, anxiety, and in some cases, depression.  These negative emotions can foster low productivity, inability to concentrate and strains on work relationships with colleagues.

Even though these emotions can be daunting and difficult to cope with, there are ways to improve your mental health at work.  First, it is important to be aware of the signs.  Some signs may include taking longer to complete projects, having difficulty communicating with coworkers, and feeling the need to call in sick more often.  Second, if you begin to feel overwhelmed at work, take a moment to make a list and prioritize your tasks.  Being overwhelmed can contribute to anxiety and depression, so making a list can help you stay on track and make you feel better when you can check an item off that list.  Third, drinking water, eating healthier foods and exercising all assist in staving off anxiety and depression.  Finally, don’t be afraid to get help!  You do not need to suffer in silence.  Mental health professionals can give you tools to help you manage or cope with anxiety and depression.

According to Anxiety and Depression Association of America, numerous individuals are afraid to speak to their boss about these feelings for fear of being laughed at, labeled as weak, passed over for opportunities for promotion, or seen as a problem or unwillingness to work.  Employers can have a huge impact on breaking the shame of depression.  To erase the negative stigmatism surrounding depression, employers can promote awareness about the importance of mental health and stress management.  They can provide training on ways to help prevent stress, learning to interrupt behavior patterns of stress and developing plans on how to minimize stressors.

In the current environment we are finding ourselves during 2020, it is important to pay attention and listen to the cues our mind and body give us.  Anxiety and depression are not fun for anyone, but with the right tools and support, they can be managed.  Remember, you are not alone in this life, and it is okay to ask for help.  Additionally, contact your company’s Human Resources department to inquire if they offer support programs, such as an Employee Assistance Program.