The World Health Organization’s definition of health is “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”
They assert that physical and mental well-being is a human right, enabling a life without limitation or restriction.
This is as good a place to start as any and for us to take a moment to reflect on our own current mental ‘health’ or ‘ill health’. How am I feeling? Am I feeling well or a little low? Am I having more good days than bad days or vice versa? Who can I speak with to express how I am feeling?
Time to Talk is an initiative led by the mental health charities MIND and Rethink Mental Illness recognising that ‘Mental health problems affect one in four of us, yet too many people are made to feel isolated, ashamed and worthless because of this. Time to Talk Day encourages everyone to be more open about mental health – to talk, to listen, to change lives.’’
Time and time again I speak with employees [during my occupational health consultations] who are initially reluctant to engage with any form of talking therapy, however having been able to express and explain their concerns and anxieties to me during our meeting, report that ‘it was good to talk’ and ‘I feel better having talked with you’.
Think about it. That old saying ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’ rings a little true doesn’t it?
Many employers provide an external confidential support service – usually known as an EAP [Employee Assistance Programme] who most often provide a 24/7 helpline for people to contact if feeling low, or sad or overwhelmed. Many also provide simple, focus based counselling, usually up to 6 sessions [if deemed appropriate]. Find out if your organisation offers this resource and if so, give it a go, there really is nothing to lose!
Some organisations have employees known as Mental Health First Aiders [MHFA] who have engaged with “training” much like a ‘physical’ first aider – who are able to listen non-judgementally, help you to find the support that you may be seeking, or just have a chat if you’re having a bad day and need some support.
As an employer you may wish to promote Time to Talk – free resources are available via the website below to promote this day and stimulate open conversations and help us to begin those often-awkward chats with our work mates or manager. Whilst one day has been chosen to promote this it is worthwhile considering ongoing ‘time to talk’ – take baby steps to help your employees feel valued as human beings and not ‘Julie in Accounts’ who needs to ‘complete the weekly figures by yesterday’…. Julie may be struggling with things at home, she could be looking after her Mum who has Alzheimers and is getting little sleep for example. Or ‘John in IT’ who seems to have been a little distracted lately – we didn’t know that he is a single parent, his teenage son is having troubling thoughts and has started harming himself…. Allow Time to Talk and enable staff to feel the ability to open up and share their concerns.
It is worth remembering at this point about Stress – the Health and Safety Executive [HSE] has huge resources to help managers to identify stressors at work and ways of mitigating this. Remember that your employees are human beings like yourself, who may need extra support at times. If you would like to explore how Mindshift can support you in meeting your legal requirement to complete an organisational stress risk assessment, or to train your managers on how to complete an individual stress risk assessment, then please drop us a line!
Finally – Time to Talk – give it a go, and help contribute to your employees and colleagues wellbeing.
Useful management toolkit: