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    Mental health has long been an overlooked topic in the workplace. That’s all starting to change. Employees in all industries and positions are struggling with their mental health, and Human Resources departments are suffering. Not only do HR professionals have to worry about the mental health of their employees, but they also must protect their own in a position that can be extremely emotionally taxing.

    In this article, we will discuss the importance of mental health in the workplace, how the pandemic has changed the workplace landscape regarding HR and mental health, and we’ll offer tips on how HR professionals can protect their mental health while advocating for their staff.

    HR Takes on A New Role

    The mental health crisis in the American workforce is real, and it's impacting HR departments across the country. HR professionals are becoming more aware of mental health issues and are taking on a new role as mental health advocates, whether by necessity or instruction.

    The pandemic has changed the workplace landscape. With so many employees working remotely, HR departments have had to adapt. The changes also necessitated that HR professionals find new ways to confront mental health challenges and support employee well-being.

    Because Human Resources is often the first point of contact for employees, HR professionals must have adequate education on mental health. Additionally, business leaders must ensure that HR professionals have the right resources on hand to refer their employees to the right resources and support their well-being without being forced to take on the role of a counselor. While HR professionals should be prepared to encounter mental health issues, it is vital that their role be clearly defined and that both they and employees know that they are not mental health practitioners. To support this goal, business leaders and HR staff must look into robust options to support employee well-being, like Employee Assistance Programs and other mental health support. HR staff can acknowledge and validate feelings and emotions while providing personnel with the assistance required to navigate life's challenges. Without the proper education, resources, and support to help their employees, HR professionals can succumb to burnout and stress.

    HR Turnover and Mental Health

    It’s a mistake to assume that HR professionals are not susceptible to the same mental health issues that plague all workers. They may be even more susceptible due to the added stress of their new role. One survey found that 53% of HR pros are burned out. Additionally, HR turnover is high, which can further impact the mental health of both individual HR professionals and the businesses they work for.

    Currently, Human Resource departments are experiencing the highest job turnover of all job positions in organizations. An estimated 15 percent of HR professionals quit in 2021 alone. It's another effect of the Great Resignation and yet another sign of the mental health crisis facing the American workforce. HR personnel may be the most likely to experience burnout due to the unique stresses of their role in the face of these difficult issues.

    Protecting Your Mental Health in HR

    Amid the current mental health crisis, it's more important than ever for HR professionals to take care of their mental health. When employees are regularly looking to you for guidance and support, bringing difficult issues and emotions to your attention, it can be extremely taxing. This is why it’s so vital to put your mental health first. After all, if you're not taking care of yourself, you won't be able to take care of anyone else. Additionally, leading by example is always an effective tactic when it comes to destigmatizing mental health in the workplace.

    As an HR professional, there are some things you can do to protect your mental health while you're helping your staff:

    Change the Way You Work

    If you have a flexible job, take advantage of that flexibility, and shift the way that you are doing your work. Figure out how you can be most efficient at each task and what makes you feel good, then do things that way.

    Burnout is often caused by being stressed about specific tasks or responsibilities, so if you can target these tasks and change how you do them, you can eliminate the stress that surrounds them.

    You can also reward yourself with small rewards when you finish tasks that you find especially stressful or unpleasant as a means of motivating yourself. This can help you find joy in even the tasks that you dislike the most.

    Take Regular Breaks

    It's essential to take breaks regularly, even if it's just for a few minutes. Step away from your desk, take a walk, and clear your head. Managing your time well and working to protect your work/life balance will help you stay strong when facing stress.

    Get Organized, In A Way That Works for You

    One of the best ways to reduce stress is to get organized. Whatever that means to you, whether it’s calendar management, or a filing system, having things in order will make your tasks and your life easier.

    Delegate When Appropriate

    You can't do everything yourself, so delegate when you can. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or to lean on colleagues who can help you with your workload. Freeing up some time will help reduce your stress levels and give you more time to focus on your mental health.

    Talk to A Mental Health Professional

    If you're struggling, don't put off talking to someone. There are plenty of resources available, including employee assistance programs (for those working at companies that offer this benefit), hotlines, and therapy. Talking to someone can help you work through your problems and find ways to cope with stress.

    Set and Communicate Clear Boundaries and Understand Your Limits

    It's important to set boundaries with your employees and supervisors. Let them know that you're there to help, but you can't be available 24/7. It’s also vital to make it clear that you are not a licensed mental health professional and cannot provide counseling or other services. Don’t expect to have the same results or put that pressure on yourself.

    Encourage Open Conversation About Mental Health

    One of the best workplace policies to combat stress and improve mental health is to foster open communication on mental health as part of your company culture.

    Mental health should be treated like any other health condition. It's nothing to be ashamed of, and seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness. By destigmatizing mental health, you will make it easier for employees to seek help when they need it.

    Destigmatizing workplace mental health can be good for your own mental health too. It can help you feel more comfortable discussing your own mental health with your colleagues and seeking help when you need it.

    Enhance Mental Health in the Workplace Today

    Mental health is a vital part of any workplace, and it's especially important in Human Resources. As an HR professional, you have a responsibility to take care of your mental health and the mental health of the staff you manage. By putting mental health first, and focusing on a culture of well-being at work, you can create a healthy and productive workplace for everyone.


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