AT this time of year, many people may feel it is a good time to reassess, or take-stock of everything, such as home, life, relationships and the workplace.

Many of us spend the best part of our days, and the best years of our lives in the workplace, so it makes sense that we want to feel happy there. I have written before about getting the work-life balance right, but what about if the workplace just isn’t a mentally healthy place to be?

You may well have heard the phrase ‘Toxic Working Environment’, but what does it actually mean?

A toxic, or mentally unhealthy workplace can be caused by bad management, in terms of workload, constant negativity, lack of trust, lack of support, bullying or lack of commitment in helping workers realise their full potential. Some managers may deliberately create an overly competitive atmosphere between staff, setting targets which generate conflict. They may also set unrealistic expectations or create a culture of fear. If you have a toxic boss, it can be very difficult to thrive in your job.

Even a manager with good intentions can create a toxic atmosphere, by not communicating their expectations fully and clearly, meaning that employees are constantly having to second guess what is expected of them, causing stress and uncertainty.

Some examples of a toxic workplace might include things such as:

* A colleague who takes credit for your ideas, leaving you feeling like a rung on their ladder to success. This subtle form of self-promotion, often accompanied by veiled jabs and competitive one-upmanship, can breed an atmosphere of distrust and demotivation.

* Watercooler whispers and sly emails can quickly transform into a tangled web of negativity. Constant criticism, backstabbing, and rumours can erode morale and create an environment of fear and paranoia.

* A toxic boss might twist your words, deny reality, and make you question your own sanity. This tactic, known as gaslighting, can leave you feeling confused, insecure, and doubting your own judgment.

* A lack of growth opportunities, repetitive tasks, and a rigid hierarchy can create a suffocating environment where ambition withers. This stagnation can lead to boredom, burnout, and a sense of professional stagnation.

* For some, the toxicity lies not in overt behaviour but in the absence of inclusion and belonging. Micro-aggressions, unconscious biases, and a lack of diversity can create an environment where certain groups feel ostracised or undervalued.

Of course, all this type of negativity filters down to everyone who works there, meaning people start to behave and react very differently in their workplace, to how they do outside of work. The result is of course a toxic working environment.

So, what can you do to change things if you find yourself working in such an environment? I have to be realistic here, I’m not going to suggest that you complain to your boss, about your boss! However, there are things you can do to help yourself and colleagues.

If you are struggling to deal with a toxic work environment, it is important to find support. Talk to your friends, family, or a trusted colleague. You can also join a support group or online forum for people who are experiencing similar situations. A sense of connection can be a real boost to our well-being and help us to focus on the solutions.

Keeping a record of any bullying or harassment can be helpful should you need to take things further at some point. It can also help you to get a better overall view of how things are.

A toxic work environment can take a toll on your physical and mental health. Make sure to take care of yourself by getting enough sleep, eating healthy foods, and exercising regularly, it won’t cure your workplace issues, but it will mean you are better equipped to deal with these matters.

You could also keep an eye out for others who may be being bullied or marginalised. You could enquire about diversity and inclusion initiatives, speak up against discriminatory behaviour, and actively seek out and build relationships with colleagues from different backgrounds. When we all look out for each other, in work and elsewhere, it is good for ourselves and good for everyone else.

If all else fails, you may want to think about taking your talents elsewhere. You only have one mind - you need to look after it.

* If you run any kind of mental health support group in the Bradford area, please get in touch so I can include it in a future column. Email

Please remember, if you are in any type of mental health crisis: Call you GP, got to A&E or call The Samaritans on 116 123 or text SHOUT to 85258.

* Martin Furber is a therapist qualified in various modalities and an Instructor Member of Mental Health First Aid England.