Mental health comes under many different guises and is referred to by different labels, such as ‘emotional health’ or ‘wellbeing’.
A clear explanation of mental health is: A person’s psychological balance and behaviours, including emotional and social wellbeing, affecting how people think, feel and act. It also determines how people handle stress, relate to others and even how they make choices.
Mental Health in the Workplace
At HappyMaven, our focus is on workplace wellbeing and how it affects the dynamics of working relationships, productivity and corporate culture. With this in mind, we look at World Mental Health Day specifically in the context of the workplace, as members of a team, as leaders of a team and for those who work alone.
Over 75% of Brits are members of the workforce, with full-time staff spending over 1700* hours working a year.
Many factors can contribute to mental health issues, with age, sex and hereditary factors playing a role, however work environment and working conditions are also cited as contributing components. Considering this; employers and co-workers are perhaps well placed to make an impact on people’s mental wellbeing.
This article will provide some easy to action tips and advice to give each of us a better awareness of our own mental health and an understanding of how to identify, address and manage mental health issues in others.
We want to ensure that Mental Health is not only considered on ‘World Mental Health Day’ but also on the other 364 days of the year. Along the way we have a few recommendations for further exploration for those with an appetite for some further learning!
Tips and Advice
Studies show that 60% of workers have woken up in the night due to worries and stress about work. Disturbed sleep leads to disengagement, tiredness, decreased productivity, being snappy and feeling over-emotional.
▶︎ Top Tip: To relieve your mind of stress-inducing thoughts before bed; many studies recommend doing a ‘brain dump’, writing down everything that’s in your head, simply as one list, or categorising them into:
Must: Things you’ve committed to doing
Wants: Things you would like to do but haven’t committed to them yet
Perhaps: Things you may want to do at some point but are far down on the priority list
Staying active can make a big difference to both our physical and mental wellbeing: brisk walks to clear your mind, yoga to calm your thoughts, or a boxing session to de-stress.
Activity can help your body to release ‘good hormones’ endorphins that can make you feel good and improve mood, helping with concentration and enabling better sleep.
▶︎ Top Tip: Suki Bassi, Chief Happiness Officer at HappyMaven recommends utilising your lunch-break at work to increase your step count, rest your eyes from screens and enjoy some fresh air by walking as far as you can take yourself in 15-minutes before making your way back to your place of work.
You can challenge yourself to go further, or take alternative routes making each lunch-break an active break from the stresses of the workplace.
Recommended reading: 'Gone For Lunch: 52 things to do in your lunch break' by Laura Archer.
Creative activities can help manage stress, provide relaxation, and be in the moment. Creative hobbies can also boost our confidence, revealing new skills and interests.
If you’re trying out a new hobby, track your progress and you’ll likely feel a sense of achievement as this new skill flourishes. Getting engaged in a new hobby or skill can mean becoming part of a new community of like-minded people and embarking on a journey of discovery to develop your new skills.
▶︎ Top Tip: Reclaim childhood passions. Did you enjoy baking cupcakes, or making scrapbooks, or playing the piano as a child? It’s easiest to get started with something you feel familiar with, and you can’t beat a bit of nostalgia!
This seems like an obvious one, however it’s much easier said than done. Communication is important for our wellbeing, so try to reach out, and have a chat about how you're feeling on a regular basis. Your employer or manager is there for you to speak to and will be pleased to check in with you to keep track of your wellbeing.
▶︎ Top Tip: Bite the bullet and chat. Avoid the emails and whatsapps and speak directly. A one-to-one chat, either over a coffee or in a meeting allows both parties to gauge body language and read non-verbal queues which are often missed in the digital world.
For Employers & People Managers
Commit to your People
Take the ‘Time to Change’ Employer Pledge. Based on The Stevenson/Farmer Thriving at Work report commissioned by Prime Minister Theresa May, January 2017. Prove to your employees that you’re committed to promoting mental health in the workplace.
Recommended reading: Thriving at work: the Stevenson / Farmer review of mental health and employers
Ensure that your corporate culture is aligned with the way you operate your mental health policy.
Create a culture that supports staff to be open about their mental health, by proactively discussing and addressing any mental health concerns, staff will inevitably be happier, healthier and find the workplace more rewarding.
Everyone works differently, with high-energy bursts and deep-work periods unique to each individual. Especially so for those who are being challenged by their mental health, these periods of productivity may occur more sporadically or require specific environments to thrive.
Changing a person’s working pattern to enable them to capitalise on their productivity, or avoid distressing or disengaged periods of time is both beneficial for businesses and employees.
Recommended reading: Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World
We hope that we have provided you with some actionable tips and advice, enabling open conversations about Mental Health in the workplace and beyond.
At HappyMaven we believe that employee wellbeing can change business for the better, therefore our aim is to continue the focus on Mental Health beyond World Mental Health Day on 10th October, all the way through the year to continue to enable you and your team to thrive in the workplace.
We would love to hear if you are actioning any of our tips and how they have impacted your wellbeing in the workplace or at home, please get in touch.
World Mental Health Day is organised by the World Federation for Mental Health. This year’s Day is supported by WHO, the International Association for Suicide Prevention, and United for Global Mental Health. Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash