Today is World Mental Health Day, aimed at raising awareness and educate people on a subject that has been too stigmatised for too long. Today should be an opportunity for us all to reflect on our own mental health and wellbeing and that of those around us.
Unfortunately, mental ill health isn’t something that affects us for just one day a year, for some it really is something that affects them long term.
So, when we talk about Mental Health, what do we mean? It is your emotional, psychological and social wellbeing – fundamentally the part of us that affects how we think, feel and act in certain situations. It determines how we handle stress, the choices we make and importantly how we relate to others.
Mental illness can range from just feeling a little down to debilitating anxiety and less commonly the severe conditions bi-polar or schizophrenia, but even feeling down can affect us and the people around us. Most people will feel some level of stress or anxiety as our daily life throws different pressures and expectations at us, so never assume someone is always happy and never struggles with mental ill health as this will rarely be true.
Each year, around one in four people in England experience a mental health problem, and the proportion of diagnosable common mental health conditions has increased by 20% in 20 years. It is now a real issue that needs to be addressed and not swept under the carpet.
Luckily awareness is on the increase and some big charities and household names are at the forefront of ensuring that we are all able to talk about our issues openly and promoting positive mental health.
There are steps we can all put in place from employers and business owner to colleagues and our peers to promote positive mental wellbeing in the workplace. Below are just a few things that should be in place and we would encourage all employers and their staff to get involved to not only help promote positive mental health in the workplace, but also support those already suffering with mental ill health.
- Take time to understand the impact to your business.
- Ensure your Managers are informed and aware, include training if necessary but most importantly ensure they are open to having conversations with their staff.
- Openly show that you are committed to positive mental health.
- Deal with the issues that could be causing your workforce stress and anxiety
- Reduce negative, tell people its ok to talk and that reinforce that they won’t be punished as a result.
- Ensure you know how to handle a potentially difficult conversation effectively and don’t be afraid to ask for help if not.
- Promote a positive work-life balance in your teams, and yourself too!
- Don’t think you’re the expert because you’re a manager, really understand Mental health and the issues associated with it.
- Build a good relationship with your team. This is probably the most important; your employees need to feel like they can come to you.
- What causes you anxiety? Do you really know what your stress triggers are? Think about it, and how you could manage it in the workplace, or at home.
- Look after your wellbeing, do things that you know make you feel positive and happy.
- Take notice of your peers and support them.
- Lastly but most importantly talk! Don’t keep things to yourself, if you are struggling let your manager know and then you can work together.
Fact: Stress is the major cause of long-term absence in manual and non-manual workers.
Let’s work together to change this and stop people suffering in silence. If you need any help or advice on how to approach mental health in your workplace, get in touch.