Mental health in the workplace

Mental health in the workplace

What is mental health

Mental health encompasses our emotional, psychological, and social wellbeing; all of which affects how people think, feel, and act. A big part of mental health, and how we manage it, determines how stress is managed. It also affects how we relate to other people, as well as the way choices are made. In all, it undeniably makes us unique individuals; everyone having their own way of dealing with life issues.

It goes without saying, but mental health (and by essence mental health support) is vital at every life stage. It changes as we grow older, developing when new situations are experienced. Mental health problems shape how we think, mood, and behave. When we’re struggling, it might be unbearable to deal with stress, or other worries brought on by modern life; such as life admin.

What is mental health?

Mental health is about how we feel on the inside; referring to emotions, psychological state, and overall wellbeing. It’s just as important as our physical health, as both aspects strongly affect our lives on a daily basis. When our mental health is good, we’re calm, hopeful, accepting, and at peace. It doesn’t mean things are perfect, as all of us have our ups and downs.

Weather serves as a good analogy for mental health. Think of it like this; when the seasons change, so does the weather. Some days are bright and sunny, and this is when we feel happy. Yet, when days grow dark and rainy, our emotions dip to the point we don’t want to leave the house. This can happen to any one of us.

Mental health is affected by situations, what we’re doing, and things outside our control. This includes how other people interact with us, physical health, financial state, and even world events like the pandemic. All of us, no matter our story, are affected by things that happen to us; no matter when it occurred. Our genes are also a factor, as they influence how we process things,

A lot of people find it difficult to discuss their mental health, as there still is a stigma around talking about feelings. However, keeping in how we feel is one of the most detrimental things we can do when it comes to mental health. Mental health support comes in many different forms, but the first step is admitting to ourselves we need help in dealing with how we feel.

Types of mental health problems

Mental health issues come in many different shapes and sizes. Ranging from mild to severe, they all affect someone’s thinking, in turn leading their mood and behaviour to change. In these circumstances, it’s vital we get help as soon as possible. That’s when we’ll start feeling better. Here are some signs of poor mental health:

  • Having trouble sleeping, either sleeping too much, or not being able to have a restful night’s sleep.
  • Eating more so than usual, which is known as comfort eating, and having no appetite.
  • Feeling as if we have little to no energy.
  • Numbness, such as the feeling of nothing mattering.
  • Unexplained aches and pains.
  • Helpless and hopeless moods.
  • Over indulging in bad habits like smoking, drinking, and doing drugs.
  • Unusual mood swings of heightened confusion, forgetfulness, paranoia, anger, sorrow, anxiety, and fright.
  • Short temper, lashing out at friends and family; yelling or fighting.
  • Mood swings affecting relationships.
  • Persistent thoughts.
  • Hearing voices that aren’t there.
  • Thoughts of self-harm, or of hurting others.
  • The inability of performing daily tasks.

How to support employees’ mental health

Employers should do what they can to offer mental health support for employees. When tackling employee mental health, employers and managers need to be aware of what signs to look out for. Everyone exhibits their mental health in different ways, but there are some tell-tale traits to keep in mind. Intervening at an early stage helps prevent issues from escalating, but employers can’t give advice about mental health issues if they’re not qualified to do so. This guide, jointly written by mental health charity Mind and the CIPD, contains information on how managers can better support employees experiencing stress and mental health issues.

Signposting to support is arguably the best course of action. It’s important that line managers have the knowledge, as well as the confidence, to be able to point members of staff in the right direction. This includes suggesting a GP visit, or referral to occupational health.

Employee mental health support can be championed by…

  • Revaluating workloads: one of the main causes of work-related stress is unmanageable workloads. Give employees realistic timescales, which helps minimise the risk of stressing about unreasonable deadlines.
  • Promoting awareness of mental health issues: unfortunately, there’s still a stigma about discussing mental help issues, but promoting awareness and educating colleagues helps dispel myths; replacing falsehoods with established facts.
  • Work-life balance: working long hours on regular basis isn’t a sustainable way of working. It increases the risk of burnout. Employers need to ensure team members maintain a balance between their workload and personal life, and this might differ person by person.
  • Offer flexible working: flexible working arrangements offers support for an individual dealing with mental health issues, as they can better manage their work-life balance from the comfort of their own home.
  • Adopt a wellbeing policy: such a policy should cover both physical and mental health. Begin with a clear statement, committing to supporting a working environment that champions employee health and wellbeing. It should be kept under constant review, as well as being taken seriously by senior management; outlining the responsibilities of stakeholders. Advice regarding advice, support, and training bettering employee wellbeing should be readily available. The wellbeing policy, and its various processes, can be evaluated for its effectiveness.

Give the gift of self-care with gift cards from Love2shop

When you give someone a gift card from Love2shop, you’re showing them that you care about their well-being. You’re giving them the opportunity to take some time for themselves and focus on their mental health.

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