SAP and Linkedin have given their employees a day off. However, more is needed for successful mental health concepts. […]
Not only since Corona, digital work has changed our everyday working life. We are “always on”, have to deal with significantly more workload. With additional care for children, homeschooling or other restrictions due to more or less lockdown, our (professional) everyday life requires a completely different degree of flexibility and organization from us. Some companies such as SAP and LinkedIn have recognized this special burden and have recently given their employees a “Mental Health Day” – i.e. an additional free paid vacation day.
Mental illnesses such as “burnout” have become a global problem. In an international survey conducted by the Harvard Business Review in winter 2021 on the impact of the pandemic on everyday working life, 89 percent of respondents said that their working life had deteriorated. 85 Percent describe a decrease in their well-being.
We are also seeing a steady increase in Germany. This is particularly evident in the annual surveys of the Federal Statistical Office or the insurance companies on the subject of occupational disability. Meanwhile, every third person becomes incapacitated due to depression, burnout or other psychological causes.
At around 30 percent, mental illnesses have now been one of the most common reasons for occupational disability for almost ten years – ahead of diseases of the skeletal and musculoskeletal system (around 21 percent), cancer or other malignant ulcers (17 percent), accidents in working life (almost eight percent) and heart and vascular diseases (seven percent).
Another difficulty is that, according to a recent survey by the Association of Psychological Psychotherapists (2021), those affected have to wait an average of six months for a therapy place. This means that lengthy work stoppages are programmed.
The fact that companies recognize the need for mental health is an important first step. But much more is needed – namely sustainable concepts. Mental health must become an established pillar in the corporate context. One day alone is not enough to reduce prejudices and stigmatization of stress and overload at work or in (professional) everyday life. The prevention of mental illnesses and stress factors in everyday (work) life must become the standard of corporate culture.
Companies must also promote and support the personal responsibility of each individual employee. How can employees find out for themselves how things are going for them? A simple exercise can help to make an initial inventory:
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Are you often exhausted and think: “Soon I really can not anymore?“
- Are you trying to please everyone and are you falling far short of it yourself?
- Does your body send you stress signals, but your recovery periods are no longer enough?
If you can answer all the questions with “yes”, you should deal with your mental health. Allow yourself to look at your individual stress factors. Where and when do you reach your limits? How can you promote your mental health again and do something good for yourself?
It doesn’t always have to be “big” things. It is quite enough to use the little things in (professional) everyday life for yourself again.
- Take deliberate breaks. Even if joint social events on the screen strengthen the sense of belonging at the workplace and the team spirit. From time to time, treat yourself to a cup of coffee or tea away from the home office workplace. Leave the screen for only five to ten minutes. Take your cup of coffee and enjoy it with the window open, on the balcony or maybe even in the garden.
- Get moving! Get up! Perhaps do not put your water bottle right next to you at the workplace, but use a remote storage as a way to get moving, change position and consciously set off “away from the computer”.
- Prioritize your tasks. Not everything is equally important. Every morning – or even at the end of a working day as preparation for the next day – take time to write down your upcoming tasks, prioritize them and think about how much time you will need for this. Plan time buffers, because there can always be something unexpected in between. If possible, give up unnecessary tasks. Delegate!
*Anne Henchen is a psychologist with a diploma and an expert in mental health as a psychotherapist in Tübingen.