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Friday, 18 March 2022 10:38

We all Have Mental Health

Current issues regarding the war in Ukraine and the strain this is putting on global relationships are sure to be a worry for many people. Following on from Brexit and then Covid, we seem to be suffering a never-ending stream of stressful situations that create uncertainty and put pressure on people’s mental health and wellbeing. It’s a subject that has increasingly influenced the advice that we give in regard to people management over the past 36 months, with stress and anxiety often being key factors.

Our own suite of mental health specific training courses was introduced several years ago in response to the awareness of mental health issues; however we would be the first to agree that training should form only part of an overall mental health strategy. Organisations must recognise that mental health and wellbeing is a constant factor for individuals and so should implement an ongoing structured approach accordingly.

Mental health issues can be complex, diverse and wide ranging. More commonly recognised conditions include stress, anxiety and depression, but it should be remembered that severe and enduring mental illness can be life changing.

Work isn’t always the main cause. The physical decline or death of a loved one can trigger a mental health episode, as can an event such a partner’s job loss. It’s easy to see then why current economic and political conditions on the back of a global pandemic are significant. However, we might find that pressures or conditions at work such as a tough work schedule or tight deadline might exacerbate external factors.

Whilst we have seen some improvement, it’s still widely reported that admitting to having mental issues remains shrouded with stigma and can be seen as a weakness, especially amongst men. Historically, individuals have been unwilling to admit to being unable to cope or feeling stressed for fear of being accused of being inadequate.

We have moved on a great deal in trying to create an environment where employees can freely express their concerns, problems and feelings. Indeed, the increase we have seen in cases where mental health is a factor, is likely to be a result of more people feeling comfortable about admitting to issues; but there is still more to do.

One approach that organisations can consider is to encourage the view that we all have mental health; just as we all have health generally. It’s fair to say that most of us will suffer something during our lives that affects our general health; and equally, we might also suffer something that affects our mental health. In other words, many of us can expect to have poor mental health at some time in our lives.

As employers, our approach to mental health should be the same as any other health condition. We have a duty of care towards our employees and should ensure they are safe and that the work environment is a safe place to be. Because mental health issues don’t generally have any outwardly visible signals like a plaster cast would be for a broken arm, or a streaming nose and red eyes from an allergy, we need to take other steps to identify it.

If we are able to catch the triggers and causes of mental health issues early-on, then we can do something about it, thereby increasing the chances of resolving the issue before it gets out of hand and causes anyone to need to take time off work.

More organisations are introducing Mental Health First-aiders and we have had consistent uptake of this course over the last three years. Although not qualified in dealing with mental health issues per se, the First-Aiders are trained to spot the early signs of mental health issues and can signpost individuals towards an appropriate course of action or mental health practitioner. They can also be approached in confidence by other employees.

Again, a Mental Health First Aider should form only part of your overall strategy. It's equally important to equip managers to be able to talk to employees who are both mentally healthy and unhealthy. We have courses for managers as well as shorter, in-house mental health awareness training for all staff.

For further support and advice about implementing your own mental health strategy, call us on 01452 331331 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Read 360 times Last modified on Friday, 18 March 2022 10:52

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