Addressing mental health in high-risk occupations

Addressing mental health in high-risk occupations

High-risk occupations play some of the most fundamental roles in our society. We need them for our lives to function smoothly. However, these people face a much higher number and intensity of stressors than the average person. Despite this, they continue to work to ensure people’s needs are met.

Focusing on mental health, specifically for these crucial people in society is of utmost importance. By doing so, we can prevent burnout, mental exhaustion, and other disorders from developing in these pillars of our society. Let us address mental health in high-risk occupations.

Understanding the mental health impact

The mental health of high-risk occupation workers is often at stake when carrying out their duties. Many of these workers are first responders, healthcare workers, and military personnel who have repeated exposure to highly traumatic events. Witnessing these distressing situations regularly can develop severe PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and other mental health challenges. This takes a heavy psychological toll on people in these occupations.

Unfortunately, for high-risk occupation workers, the mental health impact does not end there. Since their jobs often demand long and stressful work hours along with being high-pressure situations, they experience chronic stress and burnout. This can develop anxiety and depression disorders.

These numerous and intense stressors exposure require appropriate care and support to prevent disorders from developing.

Strategies for mental health support

How does one ensure that mental health support is effectively delivered to these people? There are several strategies an HR or people in leadership positions can implement to ensure this. Let us take a look at them:

Specialized counseling services: Individuals managing high-risk professionals should offer confidential and tailored counseling. Specializing counseling can work with these professionals to tackle these mental health challenges that may develop due to repeated exposure to stressors.

Peer support programs: Peer support programs are a great way to build a safe space for these individuals to address their mental health. Oftentimes specialized counseling services may seem intimidating and peer support groups can ease you into the idea. Furthermore, establishing peer support networks within this high-risk occupation can create a sense of community and understanding among colleagues.

Regular mental health sessions: Conducting routine mental health assessments of high-risk employees will allow for early intervention if required. This will prevent disorders from interfering in their everyday lives.

First-aid training: Mental health first-aid training is equally important as physical first-aid training. This includes first-person responder training to attend to a colleague’s mental health crisis.

The ACTS program offered by Manah Wellness can aid your employee’s mental health journey. We assess, provide appropriate content, and tools, and develop skills required to keep mental health in check. We offer support groups and sessions with mental health experts to take care of all mental health needs.

Leadership's role in fostering supportive cultures

Leaders can play an instrumental role in ensuring high-risk professional’s mental health trajectory. They must set the tone for the rest of the team in regards to mental health. There are a few strategies leaders must implement to foster supportive work cultures:

Create a safe space: Leaders should ensure that mental health can be discussed openly within the team. Sharing personal experiences or cases can easily initiate a conversation on mental health challenges. This can create a safe space within the team which helps people open up.

Encouraging seeking help: Repeatedly reminding employees to seek help when required can be the push they need. Encourage employees to reach out anytime, especially when feeling overwhelmed.

Educate the team: Educate employees on mental health adversities one may experience. Provide them with statistics to show the prevalence of these challenges. This will reduce stigma and encourage openness in these discussions.

List resources: Having a list of resources available for employees to access whenever required is extremely effective at fostering a supportive environment. Helpline numbers or links to book appointments with mental health professionals can facilitate and increase accessibility to resources when seeking help.

Preventive measures for stress management

Prevention is always more favourable than treatment. Since there is a substantial mental health toll when working in high-risk sectors, prevention is a must. There are certain measures leaders can take to ensure their employee’s mental health safety. Listed below are some easily employable measures that can be included in training and daily routines:

Resilience training: Incorporating mindfulness and resilience training programs can be highly effective. This enhances emotional regulation and promotes overall wellbeing. Tailor this training session to the unique demands of high-risk professionals to maximize efficiency.

Pre-employment mental health assessment: Before recruiting individuals into the team, having mental health assessments can help identify potential vulnerabilities of each employee. One can provide early intervention or allocate workload according to the assessments.

Stress reduction workshops: During the introductory week of recruits into the team, mandate stress-reduction workshops. These sessions will teach daily exercises to incorporate in daily lives to reduce stress such as meditation and journaling.

Mental health apps: These apps can help develop small habits that help track mental health trajectories. Manahverse is an AI-powered app that takes care of all your employee's mental health needs irrespective of where one falls in the mental health spectrum! Check out the app today.


Professionals of high-risk occupations include doctors, nurses, military personnel, policemen, firefighters, and more. These individuals play a crucial role in building our society, we must direct our attention to delivering appropriate mental health care. Leaders of these employees must play an active role in building a safe space in the work environment. Encouraging reaching out and having open discussions about mental health can initiate the process. Eventually mandating certain procedures can help accommodate and provide early intervention for their mental health in these demanding professions.