Salary, vacations, bonuses, training, creative freedom, social security: these are some of the important topics in a digital marketing agency, but there is a subject that is not often talked about and that should be a fundamental part in human resources of a job; mental health and the type of options, you as an employer, offers to your team that suffer from some type of mental illness.
The point of speaking openly about this is to get rid of the stigma of a problema that currently affects many people, especially us, the famous millennials or Generation Y.
In 2016, at least 14.3% of Mexicans suffered from general anxiety disorder, with this being the most common mental illness in our country. At 9%, depression and addiction are close behind. So you can see a comparison of how big this problem is in our society, but that we pay little attention to, here is some data: in Mexico, diabetes prevalence is at 6 to 8%, for which, there are more people suffering from a mental illness than diabetes. Yet, there is still so much ignorance in regard to these issues.
Many people who suffer from some type of mental illness, end up seeing it as a character flaw instead of seeing it as what it is in reality, a neurobiological sickness that should be treated. Also, there is a lot of fear on the part of the sick person, who would prefer to be quiet, so as to not be ridiculed, judged, or considered to be crazy or fired from their job.
In a work environment, just as there is support for other types of more common sicknesses or ones that we know more about, there should also be a support for those employees who are suffering from a mental health problem. Because in moments like these, having the support and understanding of bosses and/or a work team, can make a big difference, reducing worry and stress in the affected person, which is a big part of medical treatment for said sickness.
If you, as a boss or colleague, don’t have an idea of the type of sickness that one of your co-workers suffers from or you don’t understand it, you can always look it up on Google or ask an expert on the topic so that they can give you advice on how to treat someone with this sickness in a respectful way.
From personal experience, I can advise you, that, if at any moment you end up having someone on your team that is passing through one of these situations, the most sensible thing is to be flexible and pay attention to all the needs of the individual to provide a solution that benefits everyone. Sometimes, this type of person tends to be very talented, but misunderstood, in the gloom of their grief and mental health that is deteriorating, they cannot bring out all the potential that they have, which only creates frustration and a bigger problem.
In having more options, comprehension, and freedom to express themselves, without feeling like they will be fired or misunderstood, he or she, will bring extra effort to their work and you will notice drastic changes in their professional and personal development. Other options for your business or marketing agency could be to create spaces where all your employees can expand at their pace, without feeling tied to a rigid system and where they can have the freedoms that they need to positively develop in their work, feeling that trust of growing day by day and freeing their tensions and stress.
These type of spaces, at the same time, will help your team to express themselves without fear and will create a stronger connection between everyone that will at the same time serve as a place where they can be distracted in a healthy way, without feeling that their work is a stress, depression, or anxiety detonator. An example of this type of space is to dedicate a day of the week to go do things as a team, whether its playing a team sport, doing workshops where through games, coexistence is encouraged or go for walks to explore places in the surroundings around where they live.
The trick is to leave routine to the side and have days where there are no work worries, to be able to refresh the mind and body, returning to their duties with more creativity, more relaxed, and so that everything has a more natural flow when working as a team.
Another recommendation is to give your work team some days off so that they can clear their minds, without these affecting their salary. These days are known as “sanity days.”. Generally, companies or agencies sometimes designate, let’s say 5 days a year, so that their employees use them at the moment that they may need them, without it affecting their pockets. The number of days, you can decide together with the person in Human Resources and your employees, so that everyone is on board and you are aware of their needs.
Finally, there are many options that you can put on the table to create a healthier environment for everyone. The important thing here is to know how to listen and be respectful whenever an employee or colleague expresses their concern with a health problem.
The workplace is not as complex as we sometimes make it seem. The problem is that we complicate situations that we don’t want to understand and only judge those in our surroundings, but it can be livable and positive for everyone, when we have that sensitivity to understand the discomfort of our colleagues. Empathy is something that we should exercise daily and I think that many of these sicknesses would be much easier to control upon getting rid of the ‘taboo’ label.
Suffering from a mental illness is something difficult that can drastically harm the life of those that live with it. Many of the things that you do easily, such as going out to the street or places full of people, can be torture and challenge for a sick person. Because of this, if a close friend suffers from this, just listen to them and understand them. It’s the best thing that you can do for him or her. Believe me, this person will be eternally grateful.
Valeria Ruelas is Community Manager at Mijo! Brands, leading creative agency in CDMX and Puerto Vallarta. Visit us at www.mijobrands.com or contact us.