World Mental Health Day

World Mental Health Day is on the 10th of October this year. In light of this, we have put together some easy-to-follow guides with advice and support to help you manage your, your colleagues and friends and family, mental health.

For many of us, work is a major part of our lives. It’s where we spend much of our time, where we get our income, and often where we make friends. Having a fulfilling job can be good for your mental health and general wellbeing.

We all have times when life gets on top of us – sometimes that’s work-related, like deadlines or travel. Sometimes it’s something else – our health, our relationships, or our circumstances.

What is mental health?

Mental health is the way we think and feel and our ability to deal with ups and downs.

Mental health is something we all have. When we enjoy good mental health, we have a sense of purpose and direction, the energy to do the things we want to do, and the ability to deal with the challenges that happen in our lives.

Our mental health doesn’t always stay the same. It can fluctuate as circumstances change and as you move through different stages in life.

What are mental health problems?

We all have times when we feel down, stressed or frightened. Most of the time those feelings pass, but sometimes they develop into a mental health problem like anxiety or depression, which can impact our daily lives. For some people, mental health problems become complex and require support and treatment for life.

How do I recognise a mental health problem?

If we have significant challenges in our home or work life, the chances are that it has an impact on our mental health. Mental health problems can have a lot of different symptoms and signs. As a rule, you should seek help from your GP if you have difficult feelings that are:

  • Stopping you from getting on with life
  • Having a big impact on the people you live or work with
  • Affecting your mood over several weeks
  • Causing you to have thoughts of suicide

We may find these early warning signs hard to see in ourselves, and it can help to have colleagues who can help us connect this to our mental health. If things progress, you might see more obvious signs of a mental health problem in a colleague – outbursts of anger or emotion, absences from work, or not looking after their appearance as they normally would. You may see signs that they have been sleeping less or perhaps drinking more in the evening.

Looking after your mental health at work

We can all take steps to improve our mental health and build our resilience – our ability to cope with adversity. Self-care is a skill that needs to be practised. It isn’t easy especially if we feel anxious, depressed, or low in self-esteem.

Talk about your feelings: Talking about your feelings isn’t a sign of weakness; it’s part of taking charge of your wellbeing. Identify someone you feel comfortable with and who will be supportive.

Keep active: Regular exercise can boost your self-esteem and can help you concentrate, sleep, and look and feel better. Try to make a physical activity, that you enjoy, a part of your day.

Eat well: What we eat can affect how we feel, immediately and in the longer term, but it can be hard to keep up a healthy pattern of eating at work; regular meals, plus plenty of water, are a great start!

Drink sensibly: We often drink alcohol to change our mood. Most people don’t drink at work but recognise the pattern of drinking more at the weekend or in the evening when work is hard going.

Keep in touch with friends and family: Relationships are key to our mental health. Working in a supportive team is hugely important for our mental health at work.

Ask for help: We all sometimes get tired or overwhelmed by how we feel or when things don’t go to plan. Click here for a range of support and services.

Take a break: A change of scene or pace is good for your mental health. It could be a five-minute pause from what you are doing, reading a book during the commute, or a half-hour lunch break at work.

Do something you’re good at: What do you love doing? What activities can you lose yourself in? What did you love doing in the past? Enjoying yourself can help beat stress.

Accept who you are: We’re all different. It’s much healthier to accept that you’re unique than to wish you were more like someone else. Feeling good about yourself boosts your confidence.

Care for others: Caring for others is often an important part of keeping up relationships with people close to you. Helping can make us feel needed and valued, and that boosts our self-esteem.