10th October is World Mental Health Day. Celebrated globally for 25 years, it is a day where mental health is addressed, talked about, put on the agenda and not swept under a carpet of stigma. It is a day that reminds us to think about our own mental health and what it means to keep healthy.
Mental Health in the Workplace
The theme for this year’s World Mental Health Day is Mental Health in the Workplace.
One in four people will experience a mental health problem at some point in their adult life. Mental health problems contribute to employee absenteeism, poor productivity and risk of unemployment. It is in everyone’s interest to have a healthy workplace. Awareness and acknowledgement of mental health difficulties is the first step towards prevention and intervention. It’s important to recognise risk factors, notice challenges when they arise and respond in a way that supports the individual and team and preserves dignity.
It’s time to talk about mental health.
Anyone can experience mental health problems at any time in their lifespan. At Family Gems, the focus is on family so it’s good to be aware of some of the specific challenges families might face in the workplace.
• Returning to work after having a baby. This can fill a new parent with dread and heighten levels of anxiety. Parents may be battling with post-partum mental health problems and be reluctant to be open about their struggles or seek the support they need.
• Juggling responsibilities. An important meeting is running over, your child needs to be picked up from daycare; a deadline is looming, the nanny has called in sick; you are offered a much-needed opportunity for overtime but it means spending longer away from your family. The pressure of walking this tightrope can lead to increased levels of stress and anxiety. Whilst some conflicts are inevitable, a flexible working environment can
• Pregnancy. Most people are aware of the difficulties associated with pregnancy such morning sickness, backache and fatigue but for some women, pregnancy can give rise to a whole host of health issues which may significantly affect their ability to do their job effectively. It’s important that employers are mindful of this and responsive to the needs of the pregnant woman. Just because one of the girls in admin managed her whole pregnancy without a sick day, does not mean everyone else should do the same.
• Changes in mindset. Family issues can have a huge impact on an individual’s work ethic, ambition and priorities. Fertility issues, new babies, children starting or leaving school and family health concerns can all have a huge effect on how an individual see’s their job and their role in the workplace. Honest, open and supportive supervisions are needed from management to guide and mentor staff to enable them to do their job effectively or make difficult decisions about their future.
5 Unexpected Ways You Can Help Others
When it comes to mental health, many people feel overwhelmed, unsure or unqualified to support a friend or colleague whom you suspect may be going through a difficult time. The truth is, you can make a positive impact on someone’s life just by doing everyday things!
1) Ask them how they are doing…..and listen to the answer! We may exchange pleasantries with people many times in a day but rarely do we stop and have time to really connect.
2) Offer to take a walk with your friend or colleague. Most of us avoid the heat in summer but getting out of the workplace, accompanying someone to the shop and having a change of scenery can really benefit both of you. It can also make it easier for them to open up and tell you how they are really feeling.
3) Make someone a drink without being asked to. A very easy, simple gesture can really make someone feel cared for.
4) Turn down the volume. High levels of noise and constant interruptions can increase anxiety levels. Be mindful of the noise levels in your workplace and how you may be contributing to them. Phones ringing and people chatting may be unavoidable but you can support others by keeping your own mobile off or on silent, not playing loud music or talking loudly when others are working.
5) Listen. You don’t have to know the answers, you don’t have to give advice. What people benefit most from when they are experiencing difficulties is a non-judgemental, listening ear. The feeling of being heard, of being listened to can have a powerful impact. Professionals are there to give more formal guidance and intervention, you don’t have to.
If you would like to find out more about this topic or take action in your workplace, then these websites may be of interest to you: