Mental Wealth and the workplace: Protecting your mind

Work can be stressful, this is true for nearly most worker positions.
Many components of a workplace atmosphere can contribute, both unknowingly and overtly, to the experience of a mental health condition. Whether it be moderate or severe, beginning at work or in the past, the conditions of work can amplify these struggles for workers when the appropriate steps are not taken seriously.

To start, I’ll share my own story, and how I managed to develop moderate levels of anxiety from working in a popular retail store.

This retail store was, and arguably still is the fast-food chain of the fashion industry. To say this means they sell cheap clothing, for fairly affordable prices that are still probably a bit over-priced.
I started working there in my second year of university at minimum wage part-time, and in the beginning, it wasn’t all that bad. I mean, for the most part, the customers would be nice, and management seemed to understand the need for unity, plus a 50% off discount on clothing and name-brand items did not hurt the pocket…however this hyper-reality soon faded into the dark truths it really was.

It was not long before the customer’s “niceness” faded into derogatory and discriminatory regards and attacks, it seemed you would have better luck fending for yourself than finding a manager with “unity” insight. This was not the part-time position I thought it was.

After this and complaining to management I found myself punished by being kept from certain areas, even though I performed as the highest in the store for cash purchases. They took me off cash, kept me hidden in the back of the store doing tasks and duties in which no one else wanted to do. There was no specified person to do them, so they easily found me a new job.

I didn’t like that too much, it felt like the only thing it would do is create a bigger issue. And it did.

From then on I started developing high levels of anxiety whenever I was put back on the floor, terrified of customers and what they would say about me if I did not act like a perfect cashier. I did not trust management anymore, as they had to lead me to believe I was the problem.

I was mentally sick, this job had invalidated my experiences to the point I was questioning my own reality at times. I mean maybe I was being a terrible employee? Maybe I deserved to have a customer throw hangers at me and expect me to pick them up and hand them back…I mean it had to be me?

This constant back and forth of denial troubled my brain for the greater part of the 3 years I worked for that company, which won’t be named here.
The best thing that could have happened to me was learning about my rights from the Sudbury Workers Centre, and eventually, coming to work here. Now I get to help workers in the very same position I was in.

Work can be stressful, but it shouldn’t have to be. My employers failed on their job to appropriately address the situation before it developed into something bigger.

You have a right, as an employee, to work in a workplace that is free of harassment and violence, that involves all those with who you may come into contact. These incidents have intense effects on everyone involved, not only the worker.

It is important that employers take concerns and employees seriously when they come to them with difficult matters. While my situation develops issues within, many individuals may be starting out and already need accommodations, or simply their voice to be heard on certain matters to ensure they are working in a safe environment.

If you or someone you know are experiencing violence or harassment in the workplace do not hesitate to reach out and get informed on what rights you have, and your employer’s duty to ensure your workplace is free from those experiences.
Let’s work together to truly bring a sense of unity in all of our workplaces, hopefully, make work a little less stressful for everyone.

Join us at our Mental Health in the Workplace Webinar! You won’t want to miss this opportunity to get informed on your rights.