The Impact of Mental Health Issues at Work – #MTtalk » Mind Tools Blog
Mental Health Issues at Work Title

The Impact of Mental Health Issues at Work – #MTtalk

January 30, 2018


Please Join Us!

What: #MTtalk
Where: Twitter
When: Friday, February 2 @ 1 p.m. EDT (6 p.m. GMT/11:30 p.m. IST)
Topic: The Impact of Mental Health Issues at Work
Host: @Mind_Tools

“Each aspect within us needs understanding and compassion. If we are unwilling to give it to ourselves, how can we expect the world to give it to us?”
― Debbie Ford

About This Week’s Chat: Words We Think We Understand

I have concerns about how we use words. It’s probably because I love words and books and reading. To me, listening to a well-crafted speech is like “listening” to a beautiful painting.

Being a word-lover, I listen very closely to how people speak. Mindful Listening reveals how people use words, avoid certain words, and what meanings they attach to words. Sometimes, we use words sloppily, often without realizing how they sound, or even what they really mean.

Loose Language and Self-Diagnosis

Recently, I’ve become aware of how loosely people use medical mental health terms in conversations with friends and work colleagues. Here are some typical examples:

  • “I’m so OCD about my desk. If my notebook isn’t where I left it, I want to totally freak out.”
  • “He’s so withdrawn sometimes. He just sits in his ‘cave’ and doesn’t talk to anyone. It’s as if he becomes another person. I swear he’s schizophrenic.”
  • “Who’s that nerd that never talks to us in the pause area? He looks psycho to me.”
  • “I’m so moody lately, I feel completely bipolar.”

When did it become fashionable to describe yourself or others using medical mental health illness terms? Seasoned professionals don’t use these words lightly, and they go through lengthy, methodical processes to ensure accurate diagnoses.

Remember, Words Are Powerful!

Trying to self-diagnose a mental health issue – or to call it that when it’s a personality quirk – makes light of other people’s (often difficult) reality. It’s as if you want to give yourself a badge for an illness that you don’t have, while people who really do have it would give anything to be rid of it.

Words are powerful, and the things we say can do much harm, intended or not. Insensitive talk about mental health issues – especially when it’s combined with ignorance, erroneous beliefs, or prejudice – is one reason why many people are still reluctant to talk about their mental health.

The Impact of Mental Health Issues at Work

So, how likely is it that you have a colleague, friend or family member with a mental health issue? If you consider the following statistics, it’s very likely.

According to a February 2017 report from the World Health Organization, more than 300 million people worldwide live with depression. The same report shows that anxiety disorders affect more than 260 million people. And depression and anxiety disorders are just two of more than 200 recognized mental health illnesses.

With these statistics in mind, it’s clear that we need to change the way we talk about people who live with mental health issues – and how we refer to their conditions.

The Fear of Discrimination

In our Twitter poll this week, we asked you what you think is the biggest reason why someone won’t disclose a mental health issue at work. The result was overwhelming: more than 40 percent of participants said that they fear discrimination!

It’s also interesting that 14 percent of participants said they simply don’t know how to do it. Click here to see all the options and results.

In Friday’s chat, we’re going to discuss “The Impact of Mental Health Issues at Work.” We’d love you to participate, and the following questions may spark some thoughts in preparation for it:

  • How much could/should a manager accommodate the mental health issues of an employee?
  • As a manager, how honest should you be with your team if you have a mental health issue?
  • What would you value most from your manager if you had a mental health issue?
  • How do you handle it if your mental health issues are caused by work?
  • How can organizations support employees with a mental health illness?
  • If you (or someone you know) had a mental health issue that sometimes impacts your ability to work, how might you raise this with your manager?
  • As a manager, what can you do to support an employee with a mental health illness?
  • What can you do in your workplace to help to destigmatize mental health issues?


To help you prepare for the chat, we’ve compiled a list of resources for you to browse:

How to Manage a Team Member With PTSD
Understanding the Dark Triad
7 Ways to Combat Anxiety
Coping Under Pressure
Albrecht’s Four Types of Stress
Working With Seasonal Affective Disorder
Overcoming Fear of Failure
The Breaking Point
What Is Anger?

How to Join Our Chat

Follow us on Twitter to make sure you don’t miss out on any of the action this Friday! We’ll be tweeting out 10 questions during our hour-long chat. To participate, type #MTtalk in the Twitter search function. Then, click on “All Tweets” and you’ll be able to follow the live chat feed. You can join the chat by using the hashtag #MTtalk in your responses.

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