How do you protect your mental health? Do you take the same steps as when you feel physically ill, or is it something you ignore out of habit?
According to the Mental Health Foundation, almost one in seven people experience mental health problems in the workplace across the UK. More so, the Health & Safety Executive’s (HSE) annual survey for 2020/21 revealed that almost two million workers suffered from a work-related illness (around half of which were stress, depression, and anxiety).
At Currency Solutions, Finance Assistant Lauren completed a Mental Health Responder course to support friends, family, and colleagues. We sat down with Lauren to find out why she chose to take the course and to discuss her suggestions for supporting mental health in the workplace.
What pushed you to do your mental health responder training?
If you had asked me 6 years ago about mental health, I wouldn't have had a clue! However, I started to educate myself in mental health in more recent years, as many of my family and friends were struggling, as well as battling my own mental health issues.
Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, a lot more people are now suffering, and so I thought it was important for someone in the company to be trained to ensure that employees are supported, and to ensure that awareness is raised. My goal is to train management to look out for signs of mental health struggles in the workplace and to make sure that employees are not afraid to discuss how they are feeling.
Do you think attitudes to mental health in the workplace are changing?
Yes, I do believe workplaces are becoming more aware of mental health and trying to support employees where they can. However, I still think there is so much more that can be done.
How can we, as employees, support each other in the workplace?
A simple 'are you okay?' goes a long way. You don't need to be an expert in mental health to be able to listen to how someone is feeling. Now that a lot of companies are doing hybrid working, regular check-ins within teams are very important.
Could you give your top three tips to help manage your mental health (either at work or at home)?
My top tip for mental health at work would be to make sure you take regular breaks and get away from your screen, in particular at lunch time. It's very easy to fall into the habit of eating lunch at your desk, but it is important to get away; try to get outside and go for a walk.
A big tip for managing mental health is keeping active. Regular exercise can boost your self-esteem and help you to concentrate and sleep better. This doesn't mean you need to join a gym; it could just be that you make sure you go for a 30 minute walk every day or do a class.
When feeling low, it is very easy to isolate yourself from the world. Relationships are key to our mental health. Spending quality time with friends or family will help to make you feel more positive and never be afraid to talk about how you are feeling. Your social network can also be your support network.
Whilst attitudes towards mental health in the workplace have changed, as Lauren commented above, there is still so much we can do and learn to help support out colleagues. So, to start, take a minute out of your day and ask someone how they are feeling – you never know how much it could mean to them.
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