World Mental Health Day, celebrated every year on the 10th of October, gives us the opportunity to pause and reflect on the widespread prevalence of mental-ill health within the workplace – and recognise what steps can be taken to support mental wellbeing
Recently, a PwC survey found that 34% of Brits are dealing with either anxiety, depression or stress. That’s over a third of UK adults. And for those in full-time employment, the added pressure of a demanding work life can exacerbate these symptoms. In the 2018 CIPD Wellbeing at Work survey, more than a fifth of organisations cited mental illness as the primary cause of long-term absences.
Addressing mental health symptoms can often take the back seat for busy professionals juggling heavy workloads and working to tight deadlines; however, there are simple measures that can be adopted to help people manage their symptoms and ultimately recognise whether their symptoms are becoming worse.
Talk about your feelings
Don’t be afraid to talk about your feelings. Identify someone you can speak to and feel comfortable with, whether this is your partner, a friend, or a colleage. Opening up to someone you trust about your struggles is often the first step to tackling mental health problems.
Try to maintain a healthy lifestyle
Physical health has an impact on mental health, with certain habits and behaviours known to negatively affect wellbeing. In fact, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is one of the most effective ways of addressing symptoms of poor mental health. An important part of this is maintain a healthy diet. Eating well is vital– so make sure that you have regular meals that are packed with vital nutrients, and try to reduce your sugar intake as much as possible. A healthy diet is, after all, vital for both your body and mind.
On a similar note, cutting down on alcohol can significantly reduce mental health symptoms. A known depressant, high consumption of alcohol can make stress, and anxiety much worse. It will also encourage you to be much more active. Regular exercise can boost your concentration and mood – and significaltly reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. So try to make exercise a regular part of your routine, as it increases endorphins and is a great natural remedy for many mental health symptoms.
Finally, make sure you are getting enough sleep. Sleep deprivation is an important cause of mental ill-health, and can increase stress and anxiety levels. To promote wellbeing, try to get at least seven hours of sleep and avoid staying up late as much as possible.
Ask for help
If you are struggling to cope with your mental health, it is important to speak to a professional. Speak with your GP if your mental health is inhibiting your daily functions and taking a toll on your relationships and productivity.
Similarly, don’t be afraid to speak to a supervisor at work if you become stressed, anxious or generally overwhelmed by your workload. Having an open conversation with your supervisor or HR department can be extremely helpful, and can open new avenues of support.
Dean Corbett, Chief People Officer at AVADO commented: “We believe that all employers owe it to their people to offer mental health support, and get to know them well enough to help them identify when support is necessary, even if it’s just telling them that they are there to listen. We at AVADO are committed to the Time to Change pledge and are actively nurturing our culture to remove the stigma around the subject, through a real open door environment, and creating safe spaces for everyone to express themselves without judgement or fear.”
Find support that works for you
If you are hesitant about speaking out at work, there are a number of alternative avenues where you can seek mental health support. For those seeking confidentiality, HealthTech solutions can offer discreet, flexible counselling to address mental health concerns.
The rise of online platforms such as Mynurva now means that enables people to receive counselling via a live video call. What’s more, this innovation provides the convenience of quick booking, flexible working times – and is completely confidential. Those reluctant to open up about their struggles can be safe in the knowledge that there are other options that are readily accessible to them.
Mental health in the workplace is a serious issue that requires significant attention, particularly given the rise in employees suffering from issues like stress, anxiety and depression. Taking simple, daily measures to address symptoms linked to mental health can, therefore, be extremely effective in supporting individual wellbeing and promoting a more positive workplace environment. What’s more, tech has opened new avenues of support so that professionals with busy working lives can still access the support they need in a confidential and timely manner.
Dr Zain Sikafi
CEO and co-founder