Mental Health — we all have it, and now we should all strive to be more open and vulnerable about it. 

TheraPieces* is a Slice of Culture monthly column by Mendez, a graduate student pursuing her Master of Social Work degree in clinical/medical social work.

When going to work, we tend to always hear the phrase, “leave certain feelings or emotions at the door” or “leave whatever you’re going through at home.”

It’s understandable that at work, one must be focused and courteous when working with coworkers, but some days it could be hard to communicate and keep up with the work environment.

For me when I hear these phrases, one question just comes to mind: “Is this something mentally and physically beneficial or safe for us to actually do?”

I can only imagine this: 

POV: You hear the news of another victim losing their life to a hate crime. They were a person of color who died just innocently walking the streets trying to go about their day.

It takes a toll on us thinking about how we hear of yet another innocent person being killed just by walking out the door.

You are then expected to prepare to go to work again, all feelings secluded away, and pretend that everything’s okay, or at least that’s what you have to tell yourself.

Then there’s the part where you’re debating on calling out sick or taking a mental health day, but is that even an acceptable excuse?

The answer is yes.

However, this kind of attitude we take on when working and leaving all problems, issues, emotions, traumas, and/or feelings the moment you enter yourself in a professional setting just sounds like we aren’t quite allowed to discuss what’s really going on with us.

Especially amidst all the panic and circumstances happening in the world.

“How are we really coping? How are we sleeping at night? Do you want to talk about what happened today? Does any of this make you anxious?”

I hear you.

It can be quite draining on us as individuals and we may not even realize it. This can cause emotional fatigue.

Pretending to be okay sometimes can work, but in time, you’ll know when enough is enough.

That’s when we know it’s time to talk about it.

How can we as human beings provide this “enclosure of space” for anyone in need to release all that’s being withheld throughout a full-time shift?

Relieving emotional fatigue in the workplace is crucial and beneficial not only to our mental health, but also can possibly lead to better work outcomes.

If there were times allowed in the day where we take a 10 minute meditation exercise and have space to debrief and talk about our thoughts, concerns, and overall emotions during these hard times, it can increase a more dynamic, safe, and trusting environment for all individuals. It’s also a great technique of stress reduction. 

Another great way to open up is having safe spaces implemented where discussing mental health is allowed. 

Some workplaces may have a department such as Human Resources that can provide counseling and resources for employees that are in need of therapy or other access to mental health help. Promoting it and having discussions on where to access these resources would broaden the opportunities of making it a safer and more trusting workplace and/or professional setting. 

There is always something happening everyday, and it’s okay to have a reaction towards it.

Everyone’s feelings are valid, especially those whose feelings are majorly affected by today’s tragedies. It’s time to talk about coming together as a community and being able to keep us all from falling apart.

If you want a specific topic related to mental health covered, Daniella Mendez may be reached at dm1146@scarletmail.rutgers.edu.

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