Mental health is more prevalent in society than many of us realise. We’ve got better at recognising and understanding it, but many people still feel unable to share the details of what’s affecting them with the people around them. Nowhere is this more true than at work.
The pressure many of us feel at our jobs can creep up on us, and cause intense stress that can spill over into mental health issues. However, this is not easy to admit. It can feel like failure to say that we are struggling at work, and there is always the fear that if you admit this to your boss, they will see you in a negative light.
However, you are unlikely to be alone. In fact, a new study from UK mental health charity Mind has found that nearly half (48 per cent) of all workers have suffered mental health problems due to their jobs. However, only half of this group have talked to their employer about it, meaning potentially 25 per cent of employees are dealing with these issues in silence.
This is why it’s important to get things out in the open, talking about mental health and how it affects us. However, there are also a number of self-care options you can use to better deal with the pressure of your job. Here are some that you can take advantage of if stress is getting the better of you.
Ask for training to spot and deal with mental health issues
One issue many people have with coming forward regarding a mental health issue is the fear that they will come across as selfish, or wanting to gain access to special or even preferential treatment. This is not the case, of course, but one way to avoid the feeling is to try to improve things for the entire company.
One of the things that Mind has discovered through its research is that managers find it a lot easier to support their teams when it comes to mental health if they have been trained on the subject, or if their employer made it clear they supported their mental health. It is reasonable therefore to ask your employer to provide this.
If you need it, the business case for doing so is fairly clear. Analysis from Deloitte found that employers lose between £1,205 and £1,560 per employee each year due to the absenteeism and loss of productivity that mental health problems can cause. Training managers to better deal with this could save thousands of pounds.
Create a culture of support
You are not alone. That is something that charities like Mind are keen to repeat. Dealing with a mental health problem can feel isolating, but with almost half of employees struggling with the same issues, you can be sure that there will be someone in your workplace who knows what you’re going through.
It can be hard to take this step, but one positive thing you can do is encourage others to talk by creating an environment where it is safe to do so. This can most easily be done by speaking frankly about your own mental health struggles at work, but if you don’t feel comfortable doing so in the office, take it elsewhere.
You could confide in a colleague on a lunch break, for example, and collaborate to come up with ideas to improve your workplace culture. You can also ensure that if someone else comes forward with a mental health problem, you are quick to back them up and make sure they don’t face discrimination as a result.
Plan how to get better
One of the first steps towards improving your situation is to have a one-to-one conversation with your manager about your mental health. However, this is a nerve-wracking process. One way to ensure it goes your way – and therefore hopefully calm some of those nerves – is to frame it as a plan to get better.
If you’re worried your manager will react badly to you asking for help, you can instead come to them with an action plan. Tell them your issue, what you are willing and able to do in order to get to a more healthy place, and what they can do to help. This will hopefully give things more structure, and make you feel better about having that vital conversation.