Many of us tend to accept workplace stress as an unavoidable part of our jobs—or even a badge of honor.

But stress is not something to be taken lightly. It can have deeply detrimental effects on engagement, productivity, family life, and overall mental health, as well as increase risks for chronic illnesses and heart attacks.

Stress can come both from pressures on a job as well as from pressures outside of work that spill over into the workplace. Last month, 1MFWF supporter Carolyn Madvig shared on our blog how her career path took a significant toll on her well-being, and author Katrina Alcorn spoke with us about the mental burdens of being a working mom. Additional strains can include caregiving for aging relatives, for spouses, or for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders, ADD/ADHD, learning disabilities, or other mental health disorders.

It’s time to stop blaming ourselves when feeling overwhelmed at work, whether due to an existing mental health condition, developing one as a result of workplace pressures, or taking care of someone else. When workers are unhealthy, their workplaces are unhealthy as well. Employee wellness must be an employer priority, and we need systemic change in the workplace to ensure that workers have the support they need to be their best selves at work and at home.

Learn more from Theresa Nguyen, Director of Policy and Programming at Mental Health America, and Debra Schafer, Founder and CEO of Education Navigation, about managing workplace stress—and how work flexibility fits into the picture.

About Theresa Nguyen

Theresa Nguyen is Director of Policy and Programming at Mental Health America. Her areas of special interest include prevention, early intervention, education, and building a full recovery-oriented mental health system of care. Theresa manages various MHA programs including MHA Screening, Mental Health in the Nation, and Workplace Wellness. Prior to joining MHA, Theresa provided direct services as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, worked in local and state policy, and was an adjunct professor in mental health and policy. Her areas of expertise include: treatment of serious mental illness, trauma, and substance use; homelessness; Transitional Age Youth; early psychosis; Mental Health Recovery; Psychosocial Rehabilitation; and Social Welfare Policy.

About Debra Schafer

Debra Schafer is an Executive Special Education Advisor in private practice and founder and CEO of Education Navigation which provides special education advisory services and training to companies and working parents as an employee benefit. Combining more than 20 years of corporate experience in director-level positions in human resources, work/life integration, and marketing communications with 15 years of special education advocacy experience, Debra has conducted trainings for corporations, addressed Human Resources and employee assistance professionals at regional conferences, and continues to support parents nationwide. Along with extensive advanced training in areas including special education, legal issues, and Autism Spectrum Disorders, Debra was honored with the 2012 WorldatWork Alliance for Work-Life Progress “Rising Star” award and has been recognized for contributions to the autism and special education communities.

photo credit: istockphoto.com