As this year’s World Mental Health Awareness day comes around again, it is beginning to feel like this topic is finally shaking off its shackles and receiving the awareness and attention it deserves. Statistics like those from 2107/18 by the Health and Safety Executive cannot be ignored. It was found that stress, depression or anxiety account for –
- 44% of long-standing cases of work-related ill-health
- 57% of the working days lost to ill health
- 15.4 million lost working days
Those are some of the economic facts but there are some stark individual statistics too. According to the Mental Health Foundation, every week 1 in 6 adults experience a common mental health problem and, at some point, 1 adult in 5 has considered taking their own life.
Important messages are beginning to filter through, such as the importance of employers creating an environment where the mental wellbeing of staff is a priority, as laid out in the core standards of the 2017 Thriving at Work review . Time to Change’s Ask Twice movement is helping to alter how we think and act about mental health problems and highlighting that we don’t have to be an expert to be able to help.
There are also things that we can do for ourselves to help and check in with our own mental health and wellbeing.
8 Mental Health Tips
- Look for the positives – research has proven that negative thinking is energy-draining and can increase susceptibility to certain illnesses. Trying to be more optimistic doesn’t mean ignoring anything unpleasant, it means focusing on the positive elements of any given situation … and it gets easier with practice.
- Consider your emotions – recognising your emotions and working on your ability to express how you feel will help ensure you don’t get stuck in a negative state. Finding meaning in stressful situations can boost your ability to bounce back from life’s invariable adversities.
- Be grateful – take a little time to think about the good things in your life.
- This may inspire you to do something for someone else. Research suggests that those who do positive things for others experience less depression, greater calm and fewer aches and pains.
- Fit in some exercise – the link between mind and body is well documented. Exercise can increase strength and relieve tense muscles. However, it also helps us to release endorphins which can energize us as well as improve our mood and sleep quality.
- Top up your Vitamin D – not always easy in this country but exposing yourself to 10-15 minutes daylight each day can help to lift your mood. Try a quick lunchtime stroll or walk to the shop instead of taking the car.
- Pay attention to your nutrition – what you eat affects both your energy and your mood. Healthy, regular meals can increase your energy, lower your risk of developing certain diseases and influence your mood.
- Seek out support – humans are social animals, we need to feel supported, valued and connected. By developing a strong support network, you will have trusted people to encourage you and help support you through tough times. Remember, of course, that this is a two-way process and helping others can improve your own well-being.
- Remember rest and recuperation - everyone varies but ensure that you get enough sleep for you as sleep deprivation can increase a number of health risks. Setting a regular bedtime, relaxing for half an hour beforehand and not taking phones or laptops into the bedroom can all contribute to a better night’s sleep.
This is a guest blog from Jan Lawrence, behavioural scientist and co-founder of In-Equilibrium. In Equilibrium is a specialist consultancy working across Britain to provide practical training for managers and employees in areas that can affect wellbeing such as stress, resilience, mental health and bullying. If you would like to do some further reading about mental health, In-Equilibrium have a Mental Health Awareness resources page on their website, post regular articles on their website blog and send out a bi-monthly newsletter which you can sign up to here.
Capital have been working with In-Equilibrium to deliver training sessions to employees and develop policies to support the mental health of clients and employees.