People may experience feeling down or pressure during their time at work, but for some this can develop into stress, anxiety or depression.

Deadlines, travel and workload can all be factors towards a poor state of mental health. It is important that employers encourage and support a healthy workplace environment.

In recognition of Mental Health Awareness Week, we’ve broken-down mental health in the workplace and looked at ways to improve awareness and work towards acceptance.


What Is Mental Health?

The dictionary defines mental health as “a person’s condition with regard to their psychological and emotional well-being”.

Mental health can affect how we think, how we feel and how we act, whether it’s in a positive or negative manner. A person’s mental health can determine how they handle stress and how they make choices, having a large impact on their everyday life.

There are no rules when it comes to what age you can experience mental health issues, affecting people of all ages and backgrounds.

We spend a large amount of our time at work, so our workplace environment is a big factor in the state of our mental health.

According to research, 1 in 6 workers suffer from anxiety, depression and stress each year so it is important we are talking about it and looking at ways to promote wellbeing.


Noticing the Signs

Experiencing poor mental health isn’t as simple as feeling “a bit sad”. There are often multiple signs that a person is suffering from mental health issues.

Signs may include a feeling of being hopeless and a severe lack of energy or determination. A poor state of mental health can leave an employee feeling isolated, and it can be very hard to see a way out. This feeling of isolation can lead to feelings of confusion, anger and sadness.

You may observe mood swings, going from highs to lows. The shift in mood could lead to signs of more aggressive behaviour and could cause an individual to argue and fall out with colleagues, family or friends.

These mood swings can further the feeling of isolation, and lead to some troubling thoughts. This is one of the many reasons why talking about mental health is so important.


The General View on Mental Health

Whilst the awareness of mental health and the amount of people talking about it is increasing, there is still a stigma attached to it.

People who suffer from any kind of mental health issues may feel too ashamed or afraid to express their feelings. The idea of opening up about the problems they are facing can be a daunting one. Discrimination and shame are two of the main reasons that people do not feel comfortable coming forward about mental health, but this shouldn’t be the case. Encouraging a healthy workplace environment is crucial for the wellbeing of employees, and we recommend that every company operates an open-door policy.

An open-door policy will allow workers to come and talk to managers about anything that is troubling them and any issues they may have at work. If someone is suffering from poor mental health, then it should be an employer’s priority to make sure that nothing in the workplace is causing it or making the effects worse.

Talking about mental health issues can be tough, but speaking up can be beneficial. If you know that someone is suffering, don’t try and force them to talk about it, let them speak up at their own pace. You must behave in a confidential manner as this is a personal subject matter.


Working Towards Positive Mental Health

There are many different things we can do to try and keep a positive mental health.

It’s important to provide people with a way in which they can express their feelings and to not be afraid to talk to their employer if anything at work is affecting them.

Other ways of improving mental health is to keep active and live a healthy lifestyle. Exercise has been proven to have a positive impact on depression and anxiety, as well as relieving stress and helping to sleep better. If you couple this with a well-balanced healthy diet, there should be a boost in mental state.

It’s important to take breaks during work, ensuring that people take time away from their desks is vital.


Summary

Having positive mental health can give you a sense of purpose and direction, as well as a boost in energy and the ability to deal with challenges.

Every workplace should encourage workers to speak up about mental health and there should be zero tolerance towards discrimination.

Training in good people management practices, having difficult conversations and recognising signs of poor mental health are crucial. Employers should pay attention to the way in which jobs are designed and equip all managers with skills that support employee engagement and well-being

Giving people a platform to talk about any issues they have with the workload or the overall stress from the job will be beneficial and should be a priority for 2018.

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