he 10th October 2017 marks World Mental Health Day.
Every year, across the world, a day is set aside to promote mental wellbeing and help people talk about mental health. This year the focus is being placed on Workplace Wellbeing.
Recently there has been increased publicity for mental health to try to break down the stigma that still surrounds it. Prince Harry opened up earlier in the year about dealing with the grief of his mother’s passing and launched the #oktosay campaign. This hashtag has remained prominent on social media as more people are encouraged to open up about mental health difficulties.
At the start of September Wales Online published an article about the soaring numbers of students who are seeking help from Welsh Universities for mental health problems. One director of Student Services quoted in the article suggested that new students were less able to fend for themselves than previous generations. However, I disagree.
There is now much more provision put in place for mental health within education, so young people feel able to seek help when needed. When I went to school pastoral care only extended as far as a form tutor. However, now more schools and post-compulsory institutions are hiring specialist pastoral care teams and have counsellors available on site.
While many people still find it awkward to discuss and seek help for mental health problems, things are going in the right direction. With schools now regularly taking account of the mental wellbeing of their students, the focus is now moving on to employers.
According to the Office of National Statistics, mental health issues caused 15.8 million days off work during 2016. This includes absence for stress, depression and anxiety, as well as for conditions such as manic depression and schizophrenia.
Try these 5 top tips to improve your workplace wellbeing:
Reclaim your lunch break
Many people have lunch at their desks while checking emails or completing paperwork. Don’t do it. This is your time to relax and you need to reclaim it. Take a walk, go somewhere different to eat, catch up with a colleague. Say no to working through lunchtime.
Listen to some calming music
According to mental health charity Mind, slow, quiet music can encourage relaxation and reduce anxiety. It can also help block out distractions and other noise in the workplace, helping you to concentrate on the job in hand.
Make a to do list
Create a list of everything you need to do today. Tick off things when complete and just before home time write a new list for tomorrow. Getting thoughts down on paper helps to order your ideas and creating a plan for the next day will stop you staying up at night thinking about what needs to be done.
Ask for help
If you feel you are struggling or getting out of control talk to your manager. It can feel awkward to open up about mental health, but it is nothing to be ashamed of. One in six employees in the UK will take time off work due to mental health problems. You are not alone. If you feel you cannot talk to your employer, speak to your doctor to see what help they can offer to make you feel better.
Take a Deep Breath
Calming breathing techniques can be used to help you relax. It may seem too simple, but it actually works. Take some time right now to try out the breathing exercises in the video below. Once you have learnt how to breathe more deeply you can use the techniques whenever you need them.
On the 10th October take some time to consider your mental wellbeing and remember, "it's ok to say..."