Mental Health Awareness Week 2017 gets underway today, Monday 8 May. This year, the focus is on how good mental health can be developed, with the theme ‘survive or thrive’.
Professor Neil Greenberg explains how we can improve our mental health, including in the workplace...
In our day-to-day lives, simple steps such as eating well most of the time, exercising, getting enough sleep and reducing alcohol intake all contribute to better mental health. As does talking about our thoughts and feelings and asking for help if you need it, whether that’s from family and friends, colleagues, your organisation employee assistance programme or a healthcare professional.
People who have access to good social support and some sort of structure to their lives often experience better mental health than those without such support, and this applies too in the workplace.
Peer support programmes, like the March on Stress StRaW system, offer a detect and early intervention approach - helping to build resilience, increase awareness and provide mental health first aid tools which can be used to support staff and direct them to support before a crisis point is reached.
Of particular note is that the influence of managers and supervisors on the mental health of their staff is substantial. Good leaders can help shape organisational culture in a positive way, creating an environment where personnel feel supported and not penalised or stigmatised. A good leader, either directly or through the culture they foster in the workplace, can encourage distressed people to speak up and seek support if they need it. Ensuring your organisation has appropriate policies which supports mental health can also help with this.
There are many resources to help individuals and organisations to develop a positive approach to mental health. For example Get self-help is a website which has lots of useful help and guidance. If your feelings are having a big impact on you or those around you or your mood is affected for weeks on end, then you should seek advice from your GP or a local mental health clinic some of which will accept self-referrals.
Guidance from the UK Psychological Trauma Society is a good starting point for organisations, although it has a trauma focus, the advice can be applied to organisations and personnel dealing with everyday occupational stressors.
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