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MENA Businesses Are Embracing Mental Wellness Programs

How to Diminish the Stigma of Mental Illness in the Workplace

s Author: salma_elshurafa
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Creating a workplace culture that embraces mental health openness involves several critical components. Leadership commitment is foundational, with top executives openly endorsing and prioritizing mental health initiatives, setting a positive example throughout the organization. Equally important is education and awareness, with mental health training offered to all staff levels to diminish stigma and equip employees with the knowledge to support colleagues facing mental health challenges. Well-defined mental health policies and accessible resources, such as Employee Assistance Programs, are pivotal in providing guidance, assistance, and counseling for personal or work-related mental health concerns. Moreover, companies should ensure that their health insurance covers mental health services adequately and actively communicate these benefits to employees.

MENA Region is Changing 

I have observed a rising trend in the Middle East & North Africa (MENA) region, where organizations increasingly prioritize mental wellness. With a growing awareness of the importance of mental health, businesses recognize that creating a mentally healthy workplace benefits employees’ well-being and overall organizational success. I have worked with numerous organizations in our region actively implementing mental wellness programs, reflecting their commitment to fostering supportive environments for employees to thrive personally and professionally. This shift signals a positive change in our region’s approach to employee well-being, aligning with the broader societal understanding of the significance of mental health.

Open Discussions 

Open and non-judgmental communication channels must be fostered to create an environment where employees feel safe discussing their mental health concerns with supervisors, HR, or peers. Appointing or training mental health champions helps raise awareness and provides peer support, while regular one-on-one check-ins between managers and team members, addressing both work and well-being, build trust and openness.

MENA Businesses Are Embracing Mental Wellness Programs

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Healthy Work-Life Balance

Finally, employers should discourage excessive overtime and advocate for a healthy work-life balance, promoting the use of vacation days. Implementing stress reduction programs, mindfulness sessions, or wellness initiatives within the workplace further reinforces a holistic approach to mental well-being, ensuring employees feel valued, supported, and empowered to prioritize their mental health alongside their professional responsibilities.

Mindful Programs 

Mental wellness programs have a transformative impact on a company’s organizational culture, cultivating an atmosphere of support, well-being, and heightened productivity. These initiatives help destigmatize mental health issues, fostering a culture of openness and acceptance where employees feel safe discussing their mental well-being. They empower individuals with the knowledge and tools to support themselves and their colleagues, promoting a sense of collective responsibility. Such programs boost employee morale and engagement, leading to greater loyalty and job satisfaction and positively influencing workplace culture. Additionally, improved mental health leads to higher productivity and reduced absenteeism, contributing to a culture of efficiency and effectiveness. In essence, mental wellness programs shape a company culture marked by empathy, inclusivity, and resilience, benefiting individual employees and the organization.

An Inclusive Culture Inspires High Productivity

Mental wellness can significantly contribute to more productive teams. Individuals are better equipped to manage stress, stay focused, and collaborate effectively when mentally well. Implementing the right programs helps team members build resilience and cope with the demands of their roles.

Furthermore, a culture that values mental wellness encourages open communication and support among team members. Teammates who feel comfortable discussing their mental health concerns can receive understanding and assistance from their colleagues, creating a sense of camaraderie and trust within the team. This improved communication fosters better teamwork, problem-solving, and conflict-resolution skills, all enhancing team productivity.

Additionally, mentally well individuals tend to have higher job satisfaction and motivation, increasing engagement and commitment to their tasks. They are also less likely to experience burnout, which can be detrimental to team dynamics and productivity. 

MENA Businesses Are Embracing Mental Wellness Programs

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Leading by Example 

Leaders are crucial in safeguarding their and their teams’ mental well-being. Leading by example is key, with leaders demonstrating a commitment to mental health through practices like taking breaks, managing stress, and maintaining work-life balance. This serves as an inspiration for employees to prioritize their own mental health. Creating a supportive work environment involves fostering empathy and psychological safety, where leaders actively listen to employees’ concerns and offer assistance. Since leadership can be isolating, seeking peer support and mentorship is essential. Connecting with those who understand leadership’s unique challenges allows leaders to share experiences, discuss stress management, and find advice. This support network provides a safe space for leaders to prioritize their mental well-being while effectively leading their teams.

Lookout for Signs of Burnout

Recognizing signs of burnout or mental illness in employees or employers extends beyond observable changes in behavior. Emotional changes, such as heightened irritability, mood swings, persistent sadness, or sudden outbursts of anger, can be important indicators of underlying mental health concerns. Similarly, a noticeable decline in job performance, characterized by increased errors, missed deadlines, or reduced productivity, may reflect the impact of burnout or mental illness. Social withdrawal, where they increasingly isolate themselves from colleagues and avoid social interactions, may also indicate struggles with mental well-being. Additionally, frequent or unexplained absenteeism, including taking more sick days than usual, may suggest an employee is grappling with burnout or mental health issues.

Photo by Keira Burton

The post MENA Businesses Are Embracing Mental Wellness Programs first appeared on Jalees.

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