About one in four persons experience mental health problems each year and since work is predicted as the most stressful part of most people’s lives, employers must help tackle the issue. For many of us, work is a major part of our lives, it is where we spend much of our time, where we get our income and often where we make our friends. Having a fulfilling job can be good for your mental health and general wellbeing.
The mental health of any employee is highly affected by the way they think, act and deal with every circumstance at any given time.
Distress is a word used to describe times when a person is having difficulties coping with situations and their environment, for whatever reason. It could be something at home, the pressure of work, or the start of a mental health problem like depression. When we feel distressed, we need a compassionate, human response. The earlier we are able to recognise when something isn’t quite right, the earlier we can get support.
HOW TO SUPPORT MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES
BANISH THE STIGMA
The biggest barrier facing businesses is the way we see mental health. Employees are afraid of discussing the issue with others in case they lose their jobs or are judged. A huge percentage of workers feel there is a stigma attached to mental health issues in the workplace.
A lot of employees would feel more motivated if their employer showed support for their wellbeing.
SPOT THE WARNING SIGNS
The general feeling among mental health experts is that help is lacking in the workplace. Managers need to have the skills to be able to spot early signs of mental health problems; from changes in behaviour to acting withdrawn or unable to cope with daily tasks, management should notice if someone is struggling with tasks assigned to them.
Offering help early may assist in stoping the situation from becoming worse. Managers don’t need to become experts in mental health to offer the right support by simply being attentive and sensitive to employee’s feelings, giving them an open and comfortable environment to express them selves will go a long way in helping any employee.
HOW TO MAINTAIN A HEALTHY MENTAL LIFE
TALK ABOUT YOUR FEELINGS
Talking about your feelings is not a sign of weakness; it’s part of taking charge of your wellbeing and doing what you can to stay healthy. It can be hard to talk about feelings at work. So having colleagues or a manager who asks how you are at supervision sessions, can really help. Identifying someone you feel comfortable talking to and who will be also be supportive is a great way to go, this can be the in house councilor. It is also important to keep in mind what you are okay disclosing to others and the best time to do so. If you are open about how you feel at work, especially if you are a leader, it might encourage others to do the same.
Regular exercises can boost your self-esteem and can help you concentrate, sleep, look and feel good. Exercising doesn’t just mean doing sport or going to the gym it could simply be making physical activities that you enjoy as part of your day. Experts say that most people should do about 30 minutes’ exercise at least five days a week.
What we eat can affect how we feel both immediately and in the long run. A diet that is good for your physical health is also good for your mental health. Be aware that some people find public eating at work very stressful because of past or current eating disorders – so if someone doesn’t want to come to work dinners, or makes different food choices in the office, don’t pass comment or put pressure on them to join in.
people often drink alcohol to change our mood, some people drink to deal with fear or loneliness, but the effect is only temporary. Most people don’t drink at work – but most of us recognise the pattern of drinking more at the weekend or in the evening when work is hard going. Be careful with work functions that include drinking. It can be tempting to have a drink to get ‘Dutch courage’, but if you feel anxious you may drink too much and end up behaving in a way you’d rather not, which could increase feelings of anxiety.
KEEP IN TOUCH
Relationships are key to our mental health. Working in a supportive team is very important for our mental health at work. We don’t always have a choice about who we work with, and if we don’t get on with managers, colleagues or clients, it can create tension. Try and make sure you maintain your friendships and family relationships even when work is intense a work–life balance is important, and experts now believe that loneliness may be as bad for our health as smoking or obesity.
ASK FOR HELP
None of us are superhuman, we all sometimes get tired or overwhelmed by how we feel or when things don’t go to plan.Your employer may have an employee assistance programm. These services are confidential and can be accessed free and without anyone at work finding out. You may also be able to access occupational health support through your line manager or HR service.
TAKE A BREAK
A change of scene or a change of pace is good for your mental health. It could be a five-minute pause from what you are doing, a book or podcast during the commute, a half-hour lunch break at work, or a weekend exploring somewhere new. A few minutes can be enough to de-stress you. Give yourself some ‘me time’. When you are on leave or at home, resist the temptation to check in with work if you find that you can’t break away, it may be a sign that you should be re-examining your workload to manage stress.Sleep is essential to our mental health. Listen to your body. Without good sleep, our mental health suffers and our concentration goes downhill.
DO SOMETHING YOU ARE GOOD AT
What do you love doing? What activities can you lose yourself in? What did you love doing in the past? Enjoying yourself can help beat stress. Doing an activity you enjoy probably means you are good at it, and achieving something boosts your self-esteem. If possible, you should plan your workload to include tasks you know you are good at, so as to ‘sandwich’ things you know will be harder or more stressful. At work, you may have a hobby you would like to share or join in with colleagues on – a work cycling club, book group or crafting group can be a great way to share a skill with others.
ACCEPT WHO YOU ARE
We are all different, and its much healthier to accept that you’re unique than to wish you were more like someone else. Feeling good about yourself boosts your confidence to learn new skills, visit new places and make new friends. Good self-esteem helps you cope when life takes a difficult turn. Be proud of who you are, recognise and accept the things you may not be good at, but also focus on what you can do well. If there’s anything about yourself you would like to change first and foremost ensure that your expectationas are realistic, then work towards the change in small steps.
CARE FOR OTHERS
Caring for others is often an important part of keeping up relationships with people close to you. Another mental booster is giving aid to people who are in need like visiting orphanages, old folks home, homeless people, hospitals and even prisons, sometimes seeing how others live will help you appreciate where you are and what you have more. Gratitude and appreciation is a mental and mood booster. Working life can provide opportunities to care for others , in most jobs, you can choose to be there for colleagues – either as a team-mate, or as a line manager, strategies like coaching and training are good ways to support others.