The invisibility of mental health awareness in the workplace

There was a time, not so long ago, that any mention of being depressed or anxious in the workplace would cause employers to consider removing the affected employee from their role or placing them on ‘special projects’. They would be dubbed as a liability, seen as unreliable and thus, consequently let go, without considering how this might impact their mental wellbeing.


In some cases, managers would regularly demean their workers with verbal abuse, chastising them and making them feel small, in order to elicit improved performance. Needless to say, this kind of treatment had a negative impact on mental health as well. For many, and for some time, this was the norm.

Of course, in 2022, this kind of treatment is rarer in the workplace. Much progress has been made, with the growth of EAPs (employee assistance programmes) and overall increased discourse around mental health. However, there remains a considerable problem around the visibility of mental health issues at work. Employers still fail to recognise the intricacies of problems like depression, anxiety, addiction, low self-esteem, or bereavement, and workers experiencing these problems are often left feeling like they’re alone with their thoughts and feelings.

As a counsellor in Surrey, I have seen a number of clients struggle with the relationship between their work and mental health. There are so many unique challenges involved, whether you’re at home or in the office, that frequently go unrecognised. 

Seeking therapy can give you the opportunity to share your emotions and frustration about workplace challenges without judgement.

Working from the office

Prior to March 2020, it was accepted that people commuted to a specific location for work. However, after the pandemic, many have struggled to return to that rhythm of travelling to the office.

After such a prolonged period of being unable to visit the communal workplace, it is natural for some to experience anxiety about going back. It may be too stressful, taking up valuable time that could be spent on childcare or other commitments. And if someone is having difficulties with their mental well-being, the office may not feel like a place where they can be honest about how they are feeling or coping, which only makes the issue worse.

Working from home

While some individuals may have dreaded a return to the office, others may wish they could go back more than anything, despising the prospect of working remotely indefinitely – as is the case with many people and their jobs since March 2022.

There are some obstacles involved with working from home. The main issue, as many people will tell you, is the sense of isolation one can feel, particularly after being isolated during the pandemic. If you had a problem in the past, you could always lean over and ask someone to help out. This doesn’t feel possible when it’s just you and your laptop. There is a real sense of loneliness that comes with working from home, which can exacerbate existing mental health issues, and employers usually have no idea that this is happening.

Finding support 

Gathering the courage to attend therapy to discuss workplace issues can seem like a big step but, as I say to my clients, it starts with three things you are no doubt doing in your job right now: Gather a small amount of courage, use your phone or email and start a conversation.

Seeking therapy can give you the opportunity to share your emotions and frustration about workplace challenges without judgement. It can give you the 1:1 safe space to focus on your issues, feel seen and be heard and give you the personalised help you need to help you move forward. After all, it's just a conversation.

If you are struggling with any issues around the workplace and want a safe, confidential space to talk them through, please contact me

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Epsom, Surrey, KT18
Written by David Campbell, Counsellor MBACP Registered Individual and Couples Therapy
Epsom, Surrey, KT18

David Campbell is a BACP registered therapist and offers specialised counselling in Epsom, Surrey and online giving you a safe, trusting and confidential place in which to be seen, heard, and work through the issues you are facing. My practice is adapted to your needs allowing you to move forward with greater clarity and confidence in the future.

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