Menopause is a normal transition for women, and every woman will experience menopause differently.
Some have symptoms that are barely noticeable, while others experience significant changes. In some cases menopause and the reduction of estrogen can impact on someone’s mental health or exacerbate a preexisting mental illness.
Many women experience mood swings during peri-menopause. These mood swings are often linked to fluctuating levels of estrogen. Depression may also be a result of potential physical and emotional effects of menopause (such as insomnia),
However, research suggests women who had severe PMS in their younger years or postpartum depression may have more severe mood swings during perimenopause. Women with a history of clinical depression also seem to be particularly vulnerable to recurrent clinical depression during menopause.
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can hep to develop coping strategies as well as healthy eating and exercise to support wellbeing.
Menopause in the workplace
A lack of understanding around the process means that the menopause is now having a serious impact on women’s economic participation in the UK. There are now more women over 50 in British workplaces than ever before, with one in three workers expected to sit in this category by 2020, rendering the issue more pertinent than ever. With ambitious boardroom diversity and gender pay gap deadlines to meet, employers need to take the issue seriously.
With all of this in mind, what steps can organisations take to help employees navigate the experience? What support mechanisms are most effective?
There are a whole range of support mechanisms employers can put in place to help women going through the menopause. Speaking to employees and finding out what would benefit each, according to individual circumstances or experience, can be useful. Feedback can then be used to create a tailored plan or set of working conditions to help employees manage the process.
Reasonable adjustment such as flexible working practices can be hugely beneficial when it comes to dealing with issues like fatigue or disturbed sleep. The option to work from home can also be helpful when experiencing more uncomfortable or potentially embarrassing symptoms. Allowing those undergoing the transition the space and flexibility they feel necessary is important.
Simple changes to office environment can also make a difference. Sensitivity when it comes to heating and air conditioning systems, allocated cool or warm areas, desk fans and access to drinking water will be hugely valued by those experiencing issues with temperature, for instance.