Real Money: Taking stock of your mental health in the workplace

Taking care of your mental health should be as important as taking care of your physical health. After all, if you're not coping well in your daily life, it might affect your work, your relationships and even your peace of mind.

What if your job is really stressing you out, to the point where you're going to suffer from burnout, or the stress is a symptom of major anxiety or depression?

There is no shame in getting help. Seeking mental health screenings and other types of preventative measures is not only important, but might even be necessary. Of course, we're not doctors, so be sure to speak with a licensed medical professional before taking on any new wellness programs or making significant changes to your routine.

Keeping your emotions in check

While it's normal every once in a while to have a bad day at work, there are some emotions and symptoms that can indicate something more serious. For example, you can feel tired if you're working a lot, but constantly feeling tired to the point where you don't want to get out of bed isn't common.

Other signs include:

  • Extreme mood changes, like feelings of euphoria then prolonged feelings of irritability or anger
  • Drastic changes in eating habits
  • Consistently avoiding social activities
  • Excessive worry and fear
  • Inability to carry out daily tasks or handing daily challenges

If you're concerned, the first place to check is through your health care provider. This is because your employer may have a wellness program that includes mental health options like screenings, dependence counseling, depression workshops and proactive stress management courses. These are typically free and more employers are offering it to improve workers' lives, in and out of the office.

Getting a diagnosis

The first step to getting help is to get an accurate diagnosis from a professional and getting on a mental wellness plan. Seeing a mental health professional or going through a mental health screening isn't 100% accurate, so you may find that you want a second opinion, and that's okay.

After your assessment, a health care provider may develop a plan that includes medication, therapy or even simple lifestyle changes. While this can sound overwhelming, taking it one step at a time will help you get better.

Balancing therapy and medication

Not everyone is going to need medication or therapy, but it's a good idea to be open to the possibility. Luckily, both of these are covered by an FSA even if your insurance doesn't. FSA-eligible products and services include sessions with licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, counselors and social workers.

Even if your mental health professional suggests just some lifestyle changes, take those suggestions. For example, if you have a seasonal mental health disorder, using light therapy can help. Or if you require OTC medication on occasion, try it out and see how it affects you. Many of these types of products are FSA-eligible, so always check with your FSA provider to make sure.

We hope that you take your overall well-being into consideration. Work stress is fairly normal, but it's not worth it when it comes at the expense of your mental health. If you do find work is affecting you in negative ways or your mental health is affecting your work, speak to someone in your organization about how you feel. Employers want their employees to be happy and productive, so seek help if you need it.


Whether you budget week-to-week, or plan to use your FSA for bigger things, our weekly Real Money column will help you maximize your health and flex spending dollars. Look for it every Tuesday, exclusively on the Learning Center. And for the latest info about your health and financial wellness, be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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