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Mental Health At Work

Posted: 16th May 2018

Mental health is about how we think, feel and behave.

Depression; it’s more than just sadness. It’s having no feelings at all. It’s overthinking or not being able to think at all.

Anxiety is feeling worried, uneasy or fearful a lot of the time. Some people find it hard to control their worries; their feelings of anxiety are more constant and often affect their daily lives. Anxiety can have both psychological and physical symptoms.

Anxiety and depression are the most common mental health problems.

However, for the first time, stress is the major cause of long-term absence in the workplace. Work-related stress can aggravate an existing mental health problem, making it more difficult to control. If work-related stress reaches a point where it has triggered an existing mental health problem, it becomes hard to separate one from the other.

Due to the stigma of mental health, these emotions are not always acknowledged by those around you. Instead of helping, some people tell you to “get over it”.

Mental illness is not something you can simply “get over”. So many people living with mental illness don’t have anyone to talk to. They feel nobody will understand; that nobody will care. They worry they won’t be believed if they speak out. Some people simply don’t have the energy to do so. And this is devastating.

People in a time of crisis should not feel as though they have to deal with it alone. So many people who haven’t lived with it don’t understand, and this is still so obvious when people suggest things like going for a run, drinking more water or just ‘getting over’ the likes of depression and mood disorders.

Employers can help manage and prevent stress by improving conditions at work. But you also have a role in making adjustments and helping someone manage a mental health problem at work.

As a manager, you may have employees who experience mental health difficulties. As soon as you notice that an employee is having mental health difficulties, talk to them - early action can help prevent them becoming more unwell.

If the person does not want to speak to you, suggest they speak to someone else, for example someone from your employee assistance programme, occupational health or their GP.

Managers should concentrate on making reasonable adjustments at work, rather than understanding the diagnosis. Their GP, medical support or occupational health should be able to provide guidance on what you can do to help them.

There are people out there who do care and will support them through a dark time. The people who are meant to be there as a support need to prove this themselves.

Whether you know someone with a mental illness or not, be kind, always. Be the person others can reach out to in a time of need, and never turn your back on someone who does so.

You never know you’ll be helping – or just how much.

If you are currently struggling in silence – don’t. Reach out to Samaritans, on 116 123