Today, Wednesday 10th October 2018, is World Mental Health Day.
Anyone who knows me will attest that speaking out is far from my strongest attribute. I find it uncomfortable to try and articulate my thoughts in a clear and effective manner sometimes. Part of that, I imagine, is the anxiety that I have suffered for as long as I can remember; but when the time comes to express myself I will do so, especially when it’s something that I am passionate about.
I struggle with both depression and anxiety. I’m not alone though; some members of my family have mental health issues and I have friends who have experienced similar things; in-fact 1 in 4 people in this country do too. So why aren’t we doing more to open up about it?
Progress is being made thanks to the work of mental health charities and some high-profile celebrities raising awareness, but there’s more that can be done.
It was at this point that my anxiety kicked in. Why am I bothering to write this? Who is it going to help? Is it good enough? Will anybody even read it? What will my bosses think of me?
The truth is, it doesn’t matter!
There will be an abundance of articles posted today, all from different perspectives with various messages. Ultimately, they will be raising awareness of an issue which many find it difficult to talk about. Not just those suffering with mental illnesses but equally those who do not feel qualified to do something through lack of understanding. To those people, I say it’s quite simply a case of lending an ear to a friend if they need it. Nobody is qualified to give anyone else advice on dealing with issues, but everyone is qualified to listen and help get things off their chest.
Think about a balloon being inflated. Without letting any air out, the balloon will gradually expand until it reaches its full capacity for air. Once it goes too far it can no longer cope, the balloon pops. Allowing the balloon to release air when necessary can help to keep it in-tact. It’s a simple analogy, but one that I have found accurately describes my emotions at times and I’m thankful for those people around me who allow me to release some hot air every once in a while!
It’s not just today.
So I’m here to talk to anyone who needs it today and I hope that you will do the same for someone else. Moreover, be there not just today, but any day, because your openness means much more that you probably imagine.
The workplace can be a hotbed of issues that may trigger adverse disruptions to ones’ mental health: deadlines, presentations and mounting workloads can all incite stress and other negative emotions. We spend such a significant amount of time at work that it is vital to ensure that reasonable adjustments can be made to create an environment which fosters positive mental health
I’ve written this piece about my own thoughts because that’s all I can accurately relate to. Whilst I can find similarities between my experiences and those of another, I cannot truly understand what someone else is going through. Nor can you. Never judge someone whose emotions you cannot feel; whose experiences you have not lived; whose thoughts you do not see. Instead, look for signs that a close friend, family member or colleague may be struggling, and let them know that you are there for them. Thankfully, I have friends, family, colleagues and an employer who understands that they don’t have to advise, they merely have to listen.
As my favourite stoic philosopher, Epictetus, put it: “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” I think everyone can benefit from putting that thought into practice a little more frequently. It’s a pretty useful sales tip too!
For more information on how to support mental health at work, visit: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/publications/how-support-mental-health-work