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
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
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
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
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