A Heads Up on World Mental Health Day 2017
‘I’m mentally exhausted.”
“I just can’t put into words what I’m feeling.”
“I did not want to get up today.”
Everyone has days where they don’t feel 100%, but when you find yourself negatively affected by your thoughts, behaviours and interactions with others at home, or in the workplace, it can be difficult to pinpoint exactly what’s wrong.
Mental illness isn’t obvious like a bruise, and it’s certainly easier to disguise than a broken leg – but the important thing to understand is that you’re not alone. One in five Australians between the ages of 16-85 is affected by mental illness, and while some people aren’t afraid to seek the help they need, it’s the associated stigma that can make it difficult for others sharing similar experiences to open up and talk about it.
Mental health at work: the connection
If you work fulltime, you spend a large majority of your week in the workplace. This is why it is so important that your place of employment promotes and supports the mental health of workers. While work can make us feel accomplished and better about ourselves, sometimes the lack of balance between work and life can negatively affect our mental health, and even our ability to do our jobs well.
Untreated medical health conditions cost Australian workplaces approximately $10.9 billion per year. From this figure, $4.7 billion is due to absenteeism, $6.1 billion in hours worked overtime, and $146 million in compensation claims. While your mental health is an individual issue, it is also an important community concern. By opening up a conversation about it, you can help end the stigma of workplace mental health illness.
What can cause mental illness in the workplace?
While there are many influences that can contribute to an individual’s mental health, it’s your place of employment that can often lead to stress and create or worsen an existing problem. If you find yourself taking many days off work, ask yourself if it is related to stresses of the job, an overbearing manager, bullying, discrimination, or a negative work culture? If so, address your concerns with your HR manager or someone you can trust about how to resolve these issues.
Failing to look after your mental health can have major consequences on all areas of your life, some of which include:
- Decreased productivity throughout the work day
- Poor quality of work output
- Lack of engagement with family, friends or colleagues
- Poor sleep quality
- Feeling overwhelmed, tired, lonely or unimportant
Mental health and work have a close relationship that need to be monitored to avoid prolonged stress that can lead to depression and anxiety. If you are feeling overwhelmed at work, it’s important to seek support as early as possible, so you can recover sooner.
Taking care of your mental health at work
There are many things you can do right now that can have a positive effect on your work life, which will in turn, pour into your personal time. Here are just a few ways that you can have a healthy mind and body at work:
- Go home on time – you will be fresher and more productive the next morning
- Take a lunch break – don’t eat at your desk, but instead go outside and take the time to enjoy your food
- Take your annual leave – this time will allow you to refresh and gain new perspective
- Go for a brisk walk around the block when you feel overwhelmed – fresh air and exercise will help you to organise your thoughts and allow you to re-focus
- Give yourself achievable deadlines – this removes needless pressure from your plate and gives others realistic expectations of what you can achieve
- Keep moving – see if your work will let you invest in standing desks
It’s everyone’s job to take care of each other’s mental health at work. One of the ways in which you can look after the mental health of your team is to ask your HR manager or supervisor to start the conversation by engaging the workforce in a mental health and wellness course or program. This will encourage staff to put strategies into place and develop important skills for overcoming stress and anxiety in the workplace.
World Mental Health Day 2017: Time to Change
We’ve previously mentioned that there is a stigma attached to mental health – but this October 10 on World Mental Health Day, we’re standing up together to change that. The theme this year is “Time to Change” and we want to be involved in ending discrimination experienced by people with mental health problems. We encourage you to join us to talk about mental illness openly with your co-workers and without judgement.
Together, on national mental health awareness day, join Bodycare as we work to change the attitudes of those around us.
UPCOMING EVENT //
Join us for a two day accredited Mental Health First Aid course on the 5th and 6th of December.
Akin to our expectation of physical first aid, Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is the help given to someone where there is concern that they may be developing a mental health problem, or experiencing a mental health crisis. The course teaches participants about common mental health issues, simple communication and engagement strategies, and tools to provide support and encouragement to seek appropriate professional help, based on international evidence.
If you’re a team leader, manager, senior leader or HR professional, your attendance can make a positive impact in your workplace.