When we see or hear the words ‘mental health’ we often think of ‘ill mental health’ but we all have mental health … The Department of Health released a statement in 2011 that said: “there is no health without mental health.”
Mental health is just like your physical health, it can be good or bad. You can be fit and well, or you can be poorly and not feel yourself. Just as we can’t predict when we will get a headache or flu, we can’t predict when we will feel unusually sad or anxious.
You wouldn’t think less of anyone for having a headache, and you wouldn’t think twice about sharing such information about yourself with someone else, so why the stigma and shame attached to poor mental health? It’s nothing to be ashamed of.
‘One in four people in the world will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives. Around 450 million people currently suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.’ (WHO)
You may think the visual signs of physical wellbeing would be easier to spot than those of someone’s mental wellbeing, but there are surprisingly many visual signs of poor mental health. Here’s a list to help you identify what to look out for:
Spotting just one sign of deteriorating mental health, and knowing what to do next, could potentially save someone’s life. If you notice a sign or a change in someone that concerns you, ‘Take 10 Together’ and start a conversation.
“12.5 million working days were lost due to work-related stress, depression or anxiety in 2017. Depression is the predominant mental health problem worldwide.” (MHFA England)
Tips for talking:
o Keep the chat positive and supportive – explore the issues and how you could help
o Keep your body language open and non-confrontational
o Be empathetic and take them seriously
o Do not offer unhelpful advice such as “pull yourself together” or “cheer up”
Useful questions to ask:
o How are you feeling at the moment?
o How long have you felt like this – is it an ongoing issue?
o Who do you feel you can go to for support?
o Are there any work-related factors which are contributing to how you’re feeling?
o Is there anything I can do to help?
Reference point: MHFA England – www.mhfaengland.org #AddressYourStress
Here’s what some of our Consultants had to say:
“In a busy world, when we most need things, we do not find the time to use what can be helpful. I have therefore for the last couple of years used Headspace as an effective (and time effective) way of getting my mindful fix.”
“One of the models I use a lot for leadership development and coaching is the Corporate Athlete approach which compares the performance of a high performing leader to a high performing athlete. Thinking about high performance, athletes tend to ‘perform at their peak’ only when competing, they make sure recovery time is planned into their training and are likely to have a much shorter career. It really brings home the need for busy leaders, who have to perform at their peak constantly and for much longer, to ensure rest and recuperation is built into their busy schedules to sustain their energy in terms of physical, emotional, mental and spiritual (purposeful) aspects.”
“I’ve a close friend with OCD and associated mental health challenges and find that simply being ready to listen and not ‘solve’ or fix helps. We all need to be a bit more honest I think – behind all the glossy social media images and selfies there are many untold stories! Sometimes it’s in our vulnerability that we find deeper more meaningful connection.”
Personally, I’ve struggled with anxiety, and have people close to me who struggle with depression and social anxiety. The lesson I can share from my experience is that holding everything in won’t do anything to help. We should encourage sharing what’s going on inside our minds and create a safe, non-judgmental and supportive environment to do that in.
There is always hope for recovery. People with mental illness can lead fulfilling lives with the right help and support.
For more information, resources and Oakridge workshops relating to mental health, wellbeing, resilience, stress and mental health first aid please contact me directly and I will be very happy to support you –
0161 327 2031 / 07946 291 687
Natalie Griffiths, Oakridge Business Support Manager and Mental Health Advocate.