Mental Health and the Workplace

What’s the role of mental health in the workplace? Turns out, there’s a lot to talk about! On this “Speak Real” podcast episode, our host Christian chats with Ance Vanga, from the “Conversations with My Mind” podcast. Based in the UK, Ance is passionate about mental health, inclusion, diversity and all things linked to growing empathy towards each other. 

In her own words, she explains what led to starting this podcast.

“With my own mental health, and my own mental health growth and exploration, … I found the biggest help was finding my own community.  Finding out that some of my friends were also struggling, finding out how they are dealing with it and opening up the conversation.”

It’s no surprise that the COVID-19 pandemic changed the way the workplace and office life operate. Many of us around the world started working from home as a result of needing to quarantine. As we started to develop new routines and habits revolving around “the new normal”, new mental health challenges arose for many of us, including Ance. Soon enough, those challenges translated into her work life.

Mental health in the workplace after covid is a big topic of discussion all over the world right now, as many of us are switching to remote or a hybrid-model of working. So, does this transition promote mental health in the workplace? Ance believes it’s not as simple as a yes or no answer.

“I think it will be very individual. It depends on the hybrid model. It depends on what the employee actually wanted to get from their job. For some it will be a blessing, for some it might be the worst thing ever.… There is ‘The Great Resignation’ happening. A lot more people are resigning from their jobs than ever before at the moment. There’s a lot of conversation around whether it’s the money, prices are going up, people need better jobs. Or is it because people are starting to realize how they’re feeling in their job, and they’re starting to evaluate if this job is for me or not for me. … If your work is going to push you to do something you don’t [want to do], people will step away.”

Christian points out that the pandemic has shown to be less inconvenient to the mental health of introverted people, which is vital to note, as introverted people are usually expected to wear the mask of extroversion in order to succeed in traditional work spaces. So the tables have turned a bit, but what does working remotely say about the dialogue surrounding productivity and professionalism?

Christian and Ance tackle this notion of being perceived as lazy or missing out on promotions at work if an employee chooses to work remotely. There are many valid counter arguments to this notion. The two discuss how being present in the office isn’t always the answer for being more productive. Going into the office can sometimes involve long travel times and extra-long work days which can lead to burn out- which ultimately results in less productivity.

Ance’s stance on this topic is both humorous and to the point. She says:

“I am sitting at home in leggings [at home while working versus] wearing trousers at the office, is that going to change how my brain works?”

So what exactly causes burnout? The list is long, but here are a few things Christian and Ance discussed:

  • Over planning and overthinking
  • Putting too much on an already full plate
  • Not having enough time outside of work to relax and rest
  • No wind down routine 
  • Employers who do not promote mental health awareness or see the need to

It’s important to remember that employees are people who are different from each other. Our needs may differ, and the way everyone engages in their work may differ as well. 

“What needs to change with employers is the expectation that everyone works the same way and can be productive in the same way. We simply all cannot be painted with the same brush.”

– Ance Vanaga on the Speak Real Podcast

Watch the full episode here:

At YouthSpeak, we share one-on-one conversations with our youth speakers on their journey through topics on mental health and wellness. These are their personal stories and ways they’ve overcome various obstacles in their lives. We want to help youth find their voices and empower themselves through the power of their narrative!

YouthSpeak is a charity organization based in the GTA, Canada that conducts assemblies and interactive workshops to help increase the resiliency of youth facing challenges today. To find out more about our projects and initiatives visit https://youthspeak.ca/.

Help support our For-Youth-by-Youth projects by donating at: https://www.canadahelps.org/en/pages/i-support-youthspeak/

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