One in four people will experience mental health issues at some point in their lives, and stress in the workplace can be one of the contributing factors.
At ActiveWin, we are very aware that a happy, healthy workforce is integral to running a successful business, and that overall wellbeing starts with mental health.
That’s why we recently invited Maria Mander, of Mander Wellbeing, to deliver a session to the company directors, and any and all staff who wanted to attend.
The sheer number of employees who took up that offer speaks to the increased acknowledgement that strong mental health is key.
Maria began the session by showing us pictures of famous faces, including Prince Harry, Demi Lovato and Zayn Malik and asking us what they all have in common. The answer was that they have all struggled with mental health issues.
A quote by Kayne West: “Crazy is a word that’s not gonna be used loosely in the future.” was used to help us to think about the language we use which may perpetuate the stigma that is still attached to mental health problems. Words and phrases like “mental case” and “messed up” were offered up by the group, and Maria added “man up” and “grow a pair” to illustrate how men, in particular, may be belittled and dismissed regarding their mental health issues.
With mental help, as with most illnesses or problems, early diagnosis and treatment are key, so it is important that we learn to recognise in ourselves and in others what good mental health looks like, and how to maintain it.
The World Mental Health Organisation defines good mental health as:
“… A state of well-being in which every individual realise his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.”
But mental health issues are now a national crisis, costing workplaces an estimated £42billion a year, and pushing an already stretched NHS to its limits. Although the national suicide rate is, thankfully, falling rather than climbing.
The four most common kinds of mental health are;
However, there are many more conditions and mental health struggles that people may face in their day-to-day lives. A full list can be found at Mind.
What Can We Do?
So, what can we do to help both ourselves and our colleagues/those around us?
There are calls to make mental first aiders mandatory in the workplace, but until such a day arrives, we can all follow the ‘ALGEE’ training:
- A – Approach and assess – check for risk of suicide or harm
- L – Listen non-judgementally
- G – Give reassurance and information
- E – Encourage appropriate professional help
- E – Encourage self-help and other support strategies
This approach is designed to give both people involved a greater sense of confidence and security, in order to facilitate the person struggling seeking professional help.
We were then given some warning signs to look out for, including:
- Becoming angry or irritable
- Poor motivation
- Not caring about appearance
- Indulging in bad habits such as drinking too much or substance abuse
- Lack of appetite or overeating
- Low energy levels
- Withdrawing from company and isolating themselves
However, it is important to note that some people are very good at masking symptoms and may show no outward signs that anything is wrong.
It is, therefore, up to all of us to monitor our own mental health and be sensitive to what others may be going through.
The ‘blob tree test’ is used to determine how you see yourself in terms of right now and where you would like to be in the future. But we can also just take note of how good or bad we are feeling on any given day, from 0-10.
Knowing the common triggers of mental health issues can be incredibly beneficial, as becoming self-aware can enable you to recognise and deal with a problem or negative behaviours before they accelerate.
Causes of Mental Health Issues at Work
We spend a huge chunk of our lives at work, so it stands to reason that some of the causes or triggers of mental health issues occur at work.
Here are a few:
- Poor workload management
- Poor working relationships
- Poorly defined roles
- Job insecurity
There are always going to be challenges and problems, which occur at work and in life, but there are daily steps you can take to minimise their impact.
Self-Care in the Workplace
- Take breaks – at least every 90 minutes
- Get physically active – take the stairs
- Take that further with walking meetings
- Take your full holiday entitlement
- Break down your ‘to do’ list into three daily priorities
Many of these tips can be transferred over into everyday life.
If you are feeling overwhelmed, anxious or down, take a break, get moving (preferably outside) and reconnect with the world around you.
Maria recommends breaking the year down into four three-month segments and booking in some kind of holiday after each one.
3 Pillars to Wellbeing
There are three main components to overall wellbeing:
We were encouraged to consider which aspects of these three ‘pillars’ we could improve to have a positive effect overall.
For example, the recommended sleep allowance for an adult is 7-9 hours of quality sleep a night. The three pillars are linked, with poor sleep often leading to a poor diet and no energy for exercise, which then becomes a vicious cycle.
Finally, Maria left us with five ways to improve our mental wellbeing:
- Connect – this is fundamental to human beings
- Take notice – limit social media and pay attention to the world around us
- Be active – be it a heavy gym session or a gentle walk – it all helps!
- Keep learning – engagement and self-improvement help us thrive
- Give – your time, your full attention, and your empathy
This is certainly not an exhaustive list, and it’s important to note that there are a multitude of professional organisations which you can contact if you are struggling with mental health issues.
However, hopefully, the ActiveWin staff now feel a little bit more equipped to deal with their own, and their colleagues’ mental health needs.
As Maria stated “you are your best asset” so it’s vital that we all continue to take the best possible care of ourselves.
ActiveWin has always been a people-first company and continues to provide business with a personal touch. If you want to find out what we can do for you, drop us a line.