Deep Thoughts

Mental Health, The Workplace & Ending The Stigma

(NOTE — this article was originally published on my LinkedIn account in Feb 2016)

As the first month of the year has now passed, a large portion of those whom set new year’s resolutions to improve their physical health (as they do every year) have now all but returned to their prior hibernation state on the sofa to watch copious amounts of TV.

Now every year, we have the same old ritual of wanting to make vast immediate (and mostly impossible) improvements with our physical health and splashing out on that expensive gym membership or whatever popular get skinny diet programme is on the market, but we always seem to neglect another important aspect of our health — our mental wellbeing.

Many people reading this, will no doubt be professionals working in some sort of office environment for 40hrs + a week and surrounded by the same individuals everyday. Most offices are full of stressed, anxious and sadly even some people who are experiencing the difficulties of depression, so why is it that we aren’t talking about mental health like we do with physical health?. Just because you can’t see something in front of you, doesn’t mean that it’s not happening and more of us need to take stock of not only our own mental wellbeing, but also the wellbeing of those around us.

In the UK alone, it’s projected that 1 in 4 people will experience mental health problems — that’s an astounding number. It’s also been found that 1 in 6 employees in any organisation are currently going through their own mental health battle right now. As a society we need to do more to raise the awareness of just how important mental health is and also remove the stigma/discrimination that is attached to those who open up about their own struggles with mental health.

The figures below will demonstrate just how common mental health problems are amongst those in the UK, these figures have a particular focus on the workplace to convey what’s happening around us.

  • ​Mental health illness is the leading cause of sickness absence in the UK​
  • 1 in 6 workers is dealing with a mental health problem such as anxiety, depression or stress.​
  • More than one in five (21%) call in sick to avoid work when asked how workplace stress had affected them​
  • 1 in 10 people have resigned a job due to stress, 1 in 4 have thought about it.​
  • 19% of staff feel they can’t speak to managers about stress at work​

I encourage everyone reading this, to really think about your own mental wellbeing and those of the people around you. Mental health problems are common and nothing to be ashamed of, many people are afraid to admit they are struggling, but we are all human and it’s ok to struggle. I implore you to create a mentally healthy environment in your office, speak to your fellow colleagues, ask how they are? and let’s destroy the stigma attached to mental health problems.

Their are some great organisations, doing superb work to raise not only awareness of mental health problems, but also support anyone through their troubles — you can find more information via the links below.

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