Mental health conditions are often not apparent and could exist in the workplace without people recognizing them. Depression, anxiety disorders, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), bipolar disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are just a few.
In companies where there is no support framework that recognizes, understands and provides treatment support for these conditions, there could easily be friction among work colleagues, discontent, a high attrition rate, and other workplace issues.
Thankfully, there are programs available for companies that inculcate the importance of Workplace Mental Health Awareness and why should companies implement such a program. Many of them can be taken online although there are also courses that can also be conducted onsite.
An interesting method that is gaining in popularity is corporate mental health awareness programs that are conducted in outdoor settings. Nature can have a healing effect, especially when it comes to mental health. Just being beside running water, gazing out into a forest, or standing on top of a mountain has a calming effect, and may reduce anger, fear, and stress, and increase happiness.
Outdoor activities also contribute to mental well-being. Let’s take a look at some of them and the potential for incorporating them into mental health awareness training programs.
In Japan, there is a trend called ‘Shinrin Yoku’ or forest bathing. It was first initiated by the government of Japan for public well-being. Bringing employees into a forest-like environment and camping under forest cover draws on the therapeutic properties of nature and lowers blood pressure, stress levels, and boosts the immune system. There is something about sleeping under the stars, amid forest trees, or beside running water that may reduce stress and encourage open-minded discussions.
For those bothered by internal conflict and stress, fishing may have a calming effect. It gives the one fishing time to reflect, be introspective, and just enjoy the present moment. It may reduce anxiety, fight depression, and encourage relaxation.
Far from being just a simple activity waiting for fish to bite, fishing actually creates teamwork with work colleagues. Decisions like when to change bait, where to find good fishing spots, or troubleshooting fishing rod issues help work colleagues work together. The camaraderie and excitement over a catch can be enough to create bonds of friendship that carry over to the workplace.
Archery forces you to focus solely on the target. Archers with post-traumatic stress disorder find archery calming as it helps them focus on something that they can control. Due to its calming effect, even those with anxiety and depression get relief by practicing archery.
Some people say that slow paddling in water is akin to slow meditation. Being near water, and even better, paddling in rivers with greenery around, helps a lot in reducing depression and anger and improves clarity of thinking. Somehow, one’s perspective changes and one sees the world from a different angle. Paddling with work colleagues also allows a lot of social interaction and the positivity generated by this often flows over into the workplace afterwards.
No matter what form it takes, training programs for mental health awareness are very important for a conducive working environment and better collaboration among employees. Incorporating outdoor activities, whenever possible, is showing great potential for these programs.