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Resolving to Improve Mental Health in the New Year

Work is good for mental health – Except when it's not


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Many folks use the New Year as a time to look at their life and make improvements, hence January has become the season for resolutions. These resolutions typically take the form of eating better, exercising more, living life to its fullest or curbing spending. But in today’s busy cycle of work and social life, one of the most important resolutions you can make for your overall health is to take steps toward better mental health in the New Year. 

In general, most mental health experts would agree that work is good for mental health, but for so many of us, a negative professional environment can be the root cause of our mental health problems. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), globally, more than 300 million people suffer from depression, the leading cause of disability, with many of these people also suffering from symptoms of anxiety. A recent WHO study estimates that depression and anxiety disorders cost the global economy US $1 trillion each year in lost productivity.

Businesses certainly have responsibility to help this problem and support individuals who deal with depression or anxiety. For example, the WHO recommends flexible hours, job-redesign, addressing negative workplace dynamics and supportive and confidential communication with management as steps organizations can take to help people with mental health challenges. In addition, there are certain steps or resolutions we can make to help ourselves when it comes to our own mental health, such as:

  • For those who are struggling with a mental health challenge, the New Year is a good time to take action by beginning therapy. Though there is a stigma against therapy in the Western world, an unbiased, trained ear is just what most people who are suffering from mental health and addiction problems need. Therapists can help with the tools to fight disease, whether it is cognitive or addictive in nature, and regular visits are helpful. Check in with your human resources department, as many companies offer access to therapy as part of their health and wellness benefits packages.
  • Resist negative thinking

It is easy to slip into thinking: “I’ll never get that promotion,” or “I will never be happy,” or “I’m not strong enough to change.” Repeating these mantras will make them true. In the New Year, resolve to change your thinking. When the undesirable thoughts creep in, instead try saying,“I can be happy,” or “I can change.”  Before you have the opportunity to talk yourself out of it, go find another activity, like starting a new project at work, taking a walk, calling a friend or reading a book.

  • Be kind to yourself

Instead of focusing on failures, either at work, at home or in personal life, take time in the New Year to focus on what you have achieved. Perhaps it is receiving kudos from your boss for a job well-done. Perhaps it is maintaining a friendlier or healthier relationship with a family member or co-worker. Perhaps it is as simple as finding time in your busy week to meditate, exercise or spend some quality you time. 

If you are struggling at work as a result of depression, anxiety or other mental health challenges, don’t be afraid to seek help. It is better to get support, either from a licensed therapist or a good friend, family member, or coworker, than to suffer in silence. Don’t be afraid to prioritize your mental health in the New Year and remember that you are not alone.  Here’s to good mental health in 2018.


Cortland Mathers-Suter is the managing director of AspenRidge Recovery, an addiction treatment center with locations in Lakewood and Fort Collins. Learn more at aspenridgerecovery.com.  

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