Working in the public sector means being part of something bigger. Public sector employees toil for the good of the citizenry. Law enforcement, emergency, and social service personnel, and other public servants – all these people take on an extra level of community responsibility.
However, shouldering this kind of responsibility can be taxing to mental health and wellbeing. Because of their demanding and high-risk jobs, employees in the public sector are at risk of poor mental health. A study shows that 53% of the public sector workforce reported feeling anxious at work “on several occasions” in the last month. This is a higher rate than private sector workers.
Employees in the public sector experience work-related stress if they are faced with work demands and pressures that are beyond their capacity to handle. Safety and wellbeing in the public sector are crucial, however. The workforce is frequently under pressure from demanding citizens as well as administrative workload. These factors are linked to high rates of burnout and mental health problems. Read on how to learn how government employers can improve the workplace wellbeing of their public sector employees.
Mental Health Should Be a Priority for Public Sector Employees
Employees in the public sector are always willing to help, but their workload can be overwhelming. For example, workers in the public health sector are routinely exposed to longer work hours. According to the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, employees in hospitals frequently work twelve-hour or longer shifts. Those in law enforcement, meanwhile, are also frequently concerned with issues of safety and security. For example, police officers are constantly responding to dangerous emergency calls, which may include robbery and homicide. Other officers in other emergency services are always on high alert in case they are needed.
These types of stressors and high work pressures can have a negative impact on individuals. Compromised mental health and wellbeing can cause detrimental physical conditions. Poor mental health and stressors at work can contribute to a variety of physical illnesses, such as hypertension, diabetes, and cardiovascular conditions, amongst other conditions.
If nothing is done and their symptoms worsen, public sector employees’ mental health can deteriorate to the point where they are unable to contribute meaningfully in both their personal and professional lives. When left untreated, government initiatives and programs will suffer, also affecting the lives of tax-paying citizens.
Training and support are two of the most important strategic initiatives that employers can implement to improve the mental health and well-being of public sector employees. After all, because they give their all every day to serve their country, these employees deserve the best possible care and support for their mental health and wellbeing.
5 Mental Health And Wellness Tactics for Public Service Professionals
Good mental health and wellbeing practices start with management initiatives. Fortunately, employers are starting to recognize that taking care of employees’ mental health and wellness is more important than ever when working in high-stress public-sector jobs. In order to launch a mental health and well-being initiative, employers are encouraged to advise their employees to take a break from work to re-energize in order to assist them in improving their mental health. This will revitalize not only the worker but also those they serve.
Those who work in the public sector are constantly confronted with work challenges. There are, however, strategies they can employ to balance their workloads and happiness in their personal and professional lives. Here are some examples of mental health and wellness advice for public service professionals.
- Practice Self-Care
Employees in the public sector should remember to take breaks. It can be as simple as reading a book, watching your favorite movie or series, or simply going to their favorite lunch spots during their lunch break. Getting enough sleep and meditation can also be beneficial to mental health and wellbeing. Meditation practice reduces stress response and anxiety by counteracting the symptoms of anxiety disorders.
For employers, it is also important to let their employees take vacation leaves or personal days so that they can step away from the workplace and recharge. According to one National Library of Medicine study, employees were able to sleep better and be in a better mood after vacations, and the effects lasted for more than a month after they returned. Another study found that vacations, particularly those in warmer climates, resulted in higher productivity and less exhaustion for employees.
- Stay Fit And Healthy
Encourage employees to eat healthy foods that support brain function as much as possible. It will also help them in keeping their alcohol consumption to a minimum. Employers can help by stocking the office pantry with nutritious foods, beverages, and snacks. Public sector employees can keep their bodies healthy and strong by eating the right foods and exercising. Employees should be encouraged to go for a walk at least twice a week. If they live close to the office, they can choose to walk or ride their bicycle because it is the healthier option. Remember that staying physically fit can also help with your mental health and wellbeing.
According to the World Health Organization, unhealthy eating habits and a lack of physical activity are the leading causes of global health problems. A healthy diet also helps to prevent malnutrition in all of its forms, as well as noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) like diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and cancer. According to the National Health Service, exercising reduces your risk of major illnesses like coronary heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and cancer, as well as your risk of dying prematurely by up to 30%.
- Create A Support System
According to research, having a social support system can improve your overall mental health, especially for women, older adults, patients, workers, and students. Maintaining contact with family and friends on a regular basis is beneficial for mental health. Small talk with people who matter has a positive effect on morale. Mental health and wellbeing issues are easier tackled with a combination of community and human contact.
Having a collection of close and reliable people as a support system has a significant positive impact on our lives. Emotional support from these individuals, through a genuine display of empathy, love, trust, and caring, can frequently alleviate the mental stress associated with working in the public sector.
- Seek Professional Help if Necessary
Employees in the public sector are always willing to assist. As they constantly provide assistance, it may be difficult for them to be on the receiving end. However, the sooner they seek help for emotional or behavioral problems, the better. Refusing to seek help increases the risk of a mental health and wellbeing condition worsening or becoming chronic.
Regrettably, not everyone receives immediate assistance. According to research, the average time between the onset of mental illness symptoms and treatment is eleven years. It is critical to seek mental health services because only a licensed therapist is capable of evaluating symptoms and determining the severity of a mental health condition. This knowledge is essential for developing recommended treatments and therapies that will allow people to live happy, fulfilling lives.
- Step Away From News and Social Media
Social media is beneficial because it allows people to connect with friends and loved ones. However, 37% of social media users say they are exhausted by the political content they see. Moreover, when confronted with opposing viewpoints, many users become stressed or frustrated. Besides that, social media platforms like Twitter can be hotspots for the spread of hurtful rumors, lies, and abuse, which can leave emotional scars for a long time. With everyday workplace stress being a part of a public sector employee’s life, cyberbullying is the last thing they need.
On a similar note, binge-watching TV can lead to stress, anxiety, and depression. During off days or after working hours, public sector employees should practice staying away from social media and the news. Too much negativity on these platforms can negatively affect their mental health and wellbeing.
Keeping Public Service Employees Healthy
Work-related mental health conditions have emerged as a major concern in the public sector. Employees in these industries are constantly confronted with life-threatening emergencies and situations, and their exposure to these hazards can result in job-related stress. When stress levels are extremely high or prolonged, they can eventually result in depression and anxiety, seriously impacting mental health and wellbeing.
Developing sound management practices entails allocating funds to programs that address employees’ mental health and well-being. Employees in the public sector face constant challenges on the job. Employers need to encourage their employees to take time away from work to recharge their batteries in order to aid in their mental health and wellbeing.
Public sector employees should remember to look after themselves by taking breaks, eating healthy, staying fit, having a support system, and seeking professional help. Work in the public sector can be draining, and this is one of the main reasons why mental health and wellbeing initiatives are the walls that stand between your employees and future mental health problems.
Contact Aduro and experience a complete wellness solution for your public sector employees.