How to Support Mental Health While Working in a Skilled Trade

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It’s no secret that managing a work and life balance can be difficult. In fact, sometimes it’s overwhelming. Mental health is as important to nurture as your physical health. If you can’t maintain a healthy work-life balance, it can have consequences like missed workdays, conflicts in the workplace, and on-site accidents. May is Mental Health Awareness month, so let’s discuss how to support your mental health while having a successful career, and specifically while working in the skilled trades industry.

Mental Health in the Workplace  

Everyone’s mental health has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. As many workplaces shifted to a remote environment, people found themselves switching careers. Job duties changed to fit COVID regulations, and employees’ mental health was affected. According to Mental Health America’s 2021 report, 9 in 10 employees said their workplace stress affects their mental health. Now, the good news is that over the past few years, and especially since the COVID-19 pandemic began, mental health support in the workplace has been continually destigmatized. Many companies support their employees’ mental health by offering mental health days, four-day workweeks, and counseling benefits. While these shifts aren’t necessarily the cure for sustaining mental health while working, having a work environment that acknowledges the importance of mental health is the first step to taking care of your own mental health.  

Mental Health and Skilled Trades  

While 83% of skilled trades workers remain satisfied with their choice of work, they still need to work on taking care of their mental health. Because of the gap in talent for skilled trades, many times there is a shortage of trade workers on site, resulting in a heavier workload and higher stress level. Just as many organizations with employees working in an office or at home have started mental health initiatives, it is important for skilled trade careers to offer the same support for their employees. Here are some ways different employers can support the mental health of their employees: 

  • Watch for employee burnout – There are some telltale signs that your employees might be experiencing burnout. Physical complaints, calling in sick excessively, and forgetfulness while on the job are all signs that an employee could be burnt out. Burnout is important to watch out for because it can be combated. Otherwise, it can lead to accidents on the job and employee turnover. 
  • Put mental health resources in place – Having mental health resources in place will help employees know they have options if they are struggling with their mental health. Offering health insurance that covers mental health services or even access to mental health counseling makes a huge difference in your employees’ work experience.  
  • Allow flexibility in schedules – Many companies are allowing employees to take mental health days. Just like encouraging employees to stay home if they are physically sick, allowing employees to stay home to recover from burnout can improve productivity and the mindset of your team.  
  • Recruit a full workforce – A simple way to combat burnout among your employees is to make sure you have a full workforce. Not only will this foster a community, but it will allow workers to spread work out between themselves and not have to take on more than they can handle. Additionally, it allows employees the freedom to take mental health days as needed while still having the job covered. 
  • Lead by example and share personal stories – Most of the time, employees look to their leaders as an example. They might work longer days or stay on a job site longer if your leaders stay. Encourage leaders to create a healthy schedule for themselves and to share with their employees some details about their hobbies and family life. Letting employees know you value their life outside of work will encourage them to create a healthy work and life balance.  
  • Open communication – Open communication about mental health is important. Talking about mental health is a positive way to support yourself, will encourage employees to utilize their resources, and keep the line of communication open with their leaders. Thus, in turn, combating burnout before it affects an employee’s mental health and productivity.  

How You Can Support Your Mental Health in the Workplace  

While employers may offer resources and strategies to help their employees maintain their mental health, it is also up to you to keep yourself healthy. Here are some ways you can support your mental health in the workplace:   

  • Take breaks – Whether you work from home, in an office, or on a job site, taking breaks is vital for your mental health. If you work from home, schedule a time each day to take a break and use that time for yourself (rather than getting that chore done you’ve been putting off). When you’re in the office or on a job site, use your break to grab some lunch, refresh, and check in with yourself.  
  • Create a routine – Creating a routine might sound monotonous, but it will help with both job productivity and your mental health. Whether this includes going to the gym in the morning, taking your dog for a walk at lunch or after work, or simply listing out the order you want to get your work done. A structure for your work weeks and days will boost your productivity and overall mental health. 
  • Get a good night’s sleep – Don’t discount the power of getting a full night’s rest. Just like sleeping helps you recover from physical exertion, it helps you recover from mental exhaustion as well. Mental health and sleep go hand-in-hand: People with insomnia are seven times more likely to get in a work-related accident. Paying attention to your sleep patterns and working on getting a good night’s sleep will help your mental health, productivity, and safety at work.   
  • Talk to your support system – Whether your support system is your family, friends, or mental health services provided by your employer, talking about burnout, stress, or any mental health issue with your support system is a good step to mending the issue. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health, so when you don’t feel 100%, don’t be afraid to reach out to your resources and support systems.  

This article was published on: 05/2/22 9:19 AM

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