The way in which stress and mental health in the workplace are viewed is something that changes and evolves constantly. Factor in a global pandemic, and you have even deeper changes. So how do you, as an employee, ensure that you’re prioritizing your mental health, managing work-related stress, and utilizing all of the proper channels? 

Counsellor talks about work-related stress

To get answers to these questions and more, we sat down with Ashley Lourens, Counsellor & Head of Wellbeing at healingclouds. healingclouds (one of our incredible partners! offers 1:1 online therapy with accredited therapists and therapist-led courses that can be accessed anytime and anywhere. In other words, a totally invaluable resource.

How has the view of mental health changed in the workplace lately?

Lourens: “Mental health used to be an individual’s problem, but now it’s a collective thing. There’s the thought of “Wow, is that what people have been dealing with!?” It would have taken companies longer to fully understand the value of the human resource had it not been for the stressful conditions of the past year. We tend to only take things seriously when they affects us, and now employers have been impacted by mental health, too. They themselves have been struggling! Their best managers, their best employees – all struggling. The ways in which people feel, how they spend their time, their wellness – it all impacts the workplace. It doesn’t make someone weak, it just makes them relatable. It used to be an ‘other’ problem, but now if we look after our people and their wellness, it may not necessarily be so direct (ex: I give you counseling, you become a better worker), but it works indirectly.”

What steps can someone take if they’re having work-related stress (i.e., unreasonable workload, a disagreement with a coworker)

Lourens: “People should try and have open communication with their manager or with co-workers. Have conversations, tell someone that you feel like work is becoming too much to manage. Ask how things can be delegated differently. So many people suffer in silence. One should express when one feels overwhelmed, and see if there’s any way to shift. If there’s conflict between two people, you always want to try and address that in various steps. Give (and take!) feedback, collaborate, and remember that it’s all about the attitude with which the situation is approached to find a solution.”

What about stress outside of work that impacts performance at the workplace?

Lourens: “For personal mental health, there’s so much one can do. If one is struggling with one’s mental health, there’s 2 ways to work on this. Through self-help resources like healingclouds, meditations, workshops, and guided intervention programs. And then, of course, there’s getting in contact with a therapist, whether it’s chat therapy (which breaks down some of the barriers for those seeking therapy), or reaching out during an anxiety attack or an overwhelming day. Therapy can seem scary for some people. Standard, classic 1:1 video therapy can help, as can courses, meditations, and journals. Also, looking after your physical wellbeing is just as important. Eating well, exercising, keeping routines as much as possible, especially now more than ever. For our psychology, routines help us feel like we’re constantly achieving. Getting ready in the morning, making healthy foods – without a routine, we’re not achieving these little goals, so it’s important to keep them as much as possible.”

For both work-related stress and stress outside of work, what are some simple takeaways people can take to continuously prioritize their mental health?

Lourens:

  1. Create a balanced life – make time for self-care
  2. Create a routine
  3. Manage your time by creating to-do lists +/ project breakdowns
  4. Set healthy boundaries with people from work and in your personal life
  5. Address any stressors ASAP, prevention is better than cure
  6. Chat to a therapist if you would like to get guidance on a particular concern or idea you have

What about employers – how can they support their employees?

Lourens:

  1. Encourage a culture of feedback and openness if people are struggling
  2. Role model open communication by sharing with your employees
  3. Make sure to reward people who are performing well
  4. Check in with staff on how they are feeling about workload etc regularly
  5. Offer confidential support through the workplace by signing up to services such as healingclouds which become your extended arm of HR

 Now, more than ever, mental health is a high priority in many workplaces. For work-related stress, or personal stress, it’s important to remember that you’re never alone in it. There are resources available, whether it’s through your employer, through self-help channels, or through direct contact with a licensed therapist who can help. 

To take steps towards a better wellbeing with healingclouds (and a variety of other physical + mental resources that complement any wellbeing routine!), give Gympass a try today. Your mental health will thank you.