Maggie Williams, Executive Coach at Thriving Hives
In these unprecedented times of Covid 19, when the whole world has been in lockdown, and society, governments and businesses have been challenged like never before, mental wellbeing is now at the forefront of many HR departments.
While wellbeing programmes are now common in company policy, there is still a long way to go for companies to take on board the need for mental health awareness and support! With companies closing by the minute, isolation through working from home, the fear of the virus, and the uncertainty of constantly changing government rules of what we all must do or not do, it’s no wonder that mental wellbeing is declining everywhere. Isn’t it time we all became aware of mental health and also how we can support those who are suffering right now?
Everyone has Mental Health!
What is Mental Health? Mental health includes our emotional, psychological and social wellbeing. It affects how we think, feel, and act, and how we handle stress, how we relate to others and make our life choices. We all have it.
The term mental illness covers a broad range of mental health problems, which can involve changes in our emotions, behaviours and relationships with others. It’s associated with distress and problems functioning in our day-to day- lives. The great thing is that Mental Illness is treatable!
One in four adults experience at least one form of diagnosable mental health problem in any one year. It is a well-known fact that half of all mental health problems are established by the age of 14. In England alone poor mental health has a social and economic cost of over 105 billion pounds per year. In Great Britain in 2018 there were 595, 000 cases of work-related stress, depression and anxiety leading to 15.4 million working days lost. Think what is might be now in these very trying times.
Stigma and how it impacts Mental Health
One of the biggest challenge for companies who want to take mental health more seriously as part of their wellbeing strategy is to help employees overcome the stigma associated with mental health.
Stigma is one of the challenges to overcome in attempting to bring awareness and support within a company for mental wellbeing. The fear of being stigmatised often prevents employees from seeking the help they need. When the fear of stigma is in play there is a reluctance to seek professional support or to share feelings with family and friends, for fear of being, victimised, and or bullied. The mental stress involved may spiral out of control leading to a noticeable reduction in work performance.
Tips To Help Combat Stigma
- Sharing reliable information with family and friends to improve their understanding.
- Refrain from equating yourself with your condition
- Join a support group to talk about stigma and relate to others
- Organise local campaigns or get involved with national campaigns
- Seek professional help – don’t let the fear of being ‘labelled’ with a mental illness stop you
Having a good Mental Health strategy in place in your workplace is a sure way to encourage staff to feel comfortable enough to come forward in the early stages of their anxiety. When they trust that they will not be stigmatised and they’ll get the right help and support from you, they’ll feel valued, respected and above all loyal to you.
Next issue – Implementing a great strategy in your company!