As every year, Mental Health Awareness Week shines a light on an area of mental health that affects people worldwide. This year’s theme is based on loneliness.
Loneliness has become a recurring issue among employees, especially in the last two years due to the Covid19 pandemic. The feeling of isolation and detachment, both physically and mentally, has significantly impacted people’s emotional well-being. The Campaign to End Loneliness defines loneliness as “a subjective and unwelcome feeling which results from a mismatch in the quality and quantity of social relationships we have and those we desire”.
Mental health and loneliness
Even if Mental Health Awareness week is only “one week” a year, the intention is to apply all the solutions given to us throughout the whole year. We must pay attention to the different aspects that make up one of the most important tools to adapt to our environment to thrive: our mental health.
Fortunately, mental health is much more than the absence of mental pathologies, and that is why knowing about it is the first step to assessing and strengthening it, both inside and outside the workplace. The truth is that a complete and adequate state of mental health includes the absence of mental conditions but also implies a state of well-being and satisfaction with life, which we call “feeling well” and which, if we take a closer look, is much more than “not feeling bad”.
Loneliness at work
Work is one of the areas where your mental health is influenced by factors that can affect it, for example, an excessively high or prolonged level of stress, an unfavorable working environment, or severe dysfunctions in relationships with colleagues and managers.
Feeling lonely is different for each individual at different points in their life cycle within the company; solutions need to be tailored and not generic. The emotion of loneliness is related to the lack of bonds with the people we work with or a distant relationship with our manager. In this case, we feel that we cannot count on their support, leaving us to carry all the weight of our tasks on our shoulders. It is important to nurture healthy relationships and not focus on the quantity but on the quality of these social connections.
One of the critical moments in which loneliness can appear at work is, in fact, during the onboarding process. When the arrival of a new team member is not taken care of enough, the encouragement of their autonomy is likely mistaken for simply leaving them alone. In times of crisis and incredible stress, company, affection, and team cohesion become especially important for everyone’s psychological well-being. Communicating properly through internal channels and building interpersonal relationships are crucial when aiming to strengthen this element of occupational health.
All these aspects, among many others, can make everyday life at the office or home -if you work remotely- quite challenging and demanding. This puts employees in a difficult situation as far as their mental health is concerned.