Thriving Together Series: Well-Being for Young Professionals

Managing mental health at work TTWBW

By: Ahmed Bubshait, Mason alumnus

“You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn

As a young professional, it is easy to get overwhelmed by work and experience burnout. You spend a great deal of your time trying to prove yourself, showing that you add value, and demonstrating your commitment. But you can’t succeed if you let stress overwhelm you. It’s vital to prioritize your well-being. These well-being tips for young professionals can help you do so.

Looking back at my first year out of college, I used to stay in the office more than 12 hours a day. I never said “No” to any new task regardless of my current workload, and it was challenging to prioritize my mental health and well-being. Thankfully, my company started to introduce practices and initiatives that help employees take a more proactive approach to maintaining good mental health. Here are some of those initiatives that could be implemented in any workplace:

Personalized Analytics: Personalized analytics tools can help you see how work patterns affect your well-being and productivity, and empowers you to achieve balance.  I use a tool called Microsoft MyAnalytics. It tracks data such as time spent in meetings, Outlook emails, productivity, and time spent working late. It will also provide suggestions based on your habits. For example, this week I’ve received a notification from MyAnalytics telling me that when I receive emails during my quiet hours, I usually read almost all of them within 30 minutes. Therefore, the system suggested minimizing the interruptions by muting notifications and scheduling a single block of time to address all emails at once after work. This suggestion was based on research that found that consistent interruption of one’s quiet hours is more taxing on a person than addressing all emails in one block of time outside working hours.

Mental and Emotional Health Services: It is necessary to have access to professionals to help employees through solution-focused therapy for both personal and professional issues, as poor mental health can negatively affect employee job performance and engagement. In their effort to increase mental and emotional health awareness, the company I work for started to offer both in-person therapy and a 24-hour mental health hotline. Having such access to mental health care has been proven to improve lives and communities.

Mental Health Awareness Throughout the Year: While having a day or a week dedicated to mental health awareness is key to raise awareness of mental health and related problems, what is more important is to keep raising awareness throughout the year. Such activities that can be implemented in the workplace are:

  • Holding sessions on progressive muscle relaxation, relaxation through mindfulness, and other relaxation methods.
  • Offering mental health walk-in consultations for employees
  • Distributing stress balls

Focusing on mental health in the workplace is critical to employee care. If you do not prioritize your mental health and well-being, you simply will not be able to perform at your best and add value to your organization. Therefore, I encourage you to be proactive in taking care of yourself.

Additional Resources

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) looks at the mental health issues facing young workers in this article.

The World Economic Forum explores what young employees need to feel fulfilled at work in this article.

This research study shows that younger workers value respectful communication in the workplace over other perks, for their well-being.

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