There is no arguing the fact that a mentally healthy environment is essential for people to be productive and satisfied with their quality of life. According to Staglin (2021), people’s social and physical environment is what ultimately drives their health throughout their lives. From there comes the definition of social and workplace determinants of health: these are the circumstances under which one lives, works, and rests. They include a wide range of factors, such as economic stability, public safety, healthcare and education access and quality, access to healthy food and safe housing, and more (Page, 2022). The role of these factors in mental health outcomes is critical, which is why it is essential for industry professionals to focus on promoting them.
Granted, many of these determinants are beyond the control of managers and community professionals; however, it is important to understand their impact. Staglin (2021) notes that it can help leaders establish empathy and trust, understand people’s needs, and create solutions that respond to these needs. Stable employment and an encouraging workplace are also important determinants of health, and this is where employers can make a difference. By reducing risks and increasing support, they can ensure that working conditions are based on an understanding of the determinants of health and have a positive impact on mental health. Staglin (2021) lists three main actions for managers and leaders to resort to so that they can provide a welcoming environment. These are monitoring burnout, encouraging empathy, and celebrating people’s lives.
First of all, stress management is crucial to maintain good mental health and prevent burnout. However, it is essential to recognize the difference between stress and pressure. As per Staglin (2021), pressure is inevitable and beneficial in keeping staff motivated and willing to learn. Stress is the outcome of pressure becoming excessive, and it negatively impacts employees’ health and performance. This is why people need to have an opportunity to recover from the pressures that often come with working. If the recovery time is reduced, burnout, exhaustion, and mental health problems are likely to follow. Managers should regularly communicate with staff to see how their workload is being handled and ask them whether they need additional support.
In addition to that, a good leader needs to be empathetic. One’s ability to empathetically listen and respond is closely linked to key managerial skills, including engagement, coaching, and informed decision-making (Page, 2022). Managers contribute to their teams’ success best when they demonstrate an understanding of the fact that the thoughts, feelings, and general well-being of employees depend on a complex set of factors. In other words, they can demonstrate empathic leadership by understanding the concept of social determinants of health.
Finally, supporting workers when they struggle is as crucial as celebrating their victories. When employees feel that they can share their professional and personal wins, they feel valued as people and not simply manpower. Page (2022) states that companies that promote positive experiences around the lives of their staff benefit from it themselves. They empower workers to express who they are and help build an environment that contributes to positive mental health outcomes.
In conclusion, social and workplace determinants of health are the circumstances under which people live and work, and they significantly impact one’s mental health. Therefore, employers and leaders should aim to understand and be receptive to these determinants. Upon doing that, they will be ready to provide support and do their best to make the workplace safe and encouraging. As a result, workers will be able to thrive and not merely survive when performing their responsibilities.
Page, S. (2022). Why do social determinants of health matter at work? TotalWellness. Web.
Staglin, G. (2021). What employers need to know about social determinants of health. Forbes. Web.