Adverse Childhood Experiences, also known as ACEs, are powerful. ACEs are traumatic or stressful events that occur in a person's life before the age of 18. But many people who have experienced ACEs in childhood can carry the results and effects from those events long into adulthood, including the workplace. How do ACEs potentially impact the mental or physical health of you and your teammates?
How Can Mental Health Affect Employees?
Poor mental health and stress can negatively affect employees in different ways.
- Job performance and productivity
- Engagement with one's work
- Communication with coworkers
- Physical capability and daily functioning
Mental health in the workplace is important, according to Jessica Crunkleton, MS, LMFT, LMHC, CADAC II, MATS, therapist with Franciscan Health's Employee Assistance Program in Crown Point. "Without mental health, there is no health," she said. "We have to have it."
"When everyone is not taking good care of themselves, that can affect the entire workplace," Crunkleton said. "We have to have mental health. It is vitally important."
ACEs In The Workplace
People with a higher ACEs score, or an increased number of traumatic events early in life, may see incidents in different perspectives than others. This can impact workplace interactions, Crunkleton said.
"For example, a situation that happens may not be as serious to one employee than the next, because of their past and history," she said. "Some employees with a higher ACEs score may also be less likely to trust others in this environment."
Crunkleton also noted that more issues, like conflict, can occur overall with people who have experienced multiple ACEs, both in the workplace and outside of work.
"Adaptation, anxiety and impact are just a few things that can be caused from ACEs, and many times people are not always aware of it," Crunkleton said.
Mental Health Warning Signs
According to the National Alliance of Mental Illness, common signs of mental illness in adults and adolescents can include the following:
- Excessive worrying or fear
- Feeling excessively sad or low
- Confused thinking or problems concentrating and learning
- Extreme mood changes, including uncontrollable "highs" or feelings of euphoria
- Prolonged or strong feelings of irritability or anger
- Avoiding friends and social activities
- Difficulties understanding or relating to other people
- Changes in sleeping habits or feeling tired and low energy
- Changes in eating habits such as increased hunger or lack of appetite
- Changes in sex drive
- Difficulty perceiving reality (delusions or hallucinations, in which a person experiences and senses things that don't exist in objective reality)
- Inability to perceive changes in one’s own feelings, behavior or personality ("lack of insight" or anosognosia)
- Abuse of substances like alcohol or drugs
- Multiple physical ailments without obvious causes (such as headaches, stomach aches, vague and ongoing "aches and pains")
- Thinking about suicide
- Inability to carry out daily activities or handle daily problems and stress
- An intense fear of weight gain or concern with appearance
"Changes in behavior is a good indicator (of a problem)," she said. "For example, if an employee starts to become late often, miss work, has a major change in mood or appearance, these are important to pay attention to."
How To Manage Mental Health At Work
Mental health is important and recognizing if you have a disorder will help you in the long run.
"The key is treatment and do not have a stigma about mental health," Crunkleton said.
The workplace can be a key location for activities designed to improve well-being among adults. Workplace wellness programs can identify those at risk and connect them to treatment and put in place supports to help people reduce and manage stress.
It is vital to have awareness of mental health, as well as maintaining a healthy life by eating healthy and exercising regularly. To be the best you and for your mental health, take time off when you need it.
"You have to take care of yourself," Crunkleton said.
If there is a conflict at work, talk it out, don't let it escalate. Be transparent with your manager or supervisor to receive the proper accommodations.
Crunkleton emphasized how important mental health is. "Mental health has to a priority, both at home and at work."
By Ariel Anderson
Social Media Specialist