Cut the stigma around mental ill health

What does the term ‘mental health’ mean to you? Quite often, due to its stigma, it is linked to negative connotations – that someone is ’mad’ or to ‘avoid them, they are crazy’. Which in reality, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Mental disorders can be triggered by a variety of genetic and environmental factors, of which one person cannot predict will happen to them or how it will affect them mentally.

Often, when someone is going through mental ill-health, it stems from a negative influence, which could be why there is a ‘grey cloud’ over the definition ‘Mental Health’. We are getting to a point now where people are openly talking more about mental illnesses, but there is still an immense negativity hanging over the term ‘Mental Health’.

Talking about feelings can often be the beginning of what can feel like a marathon for someone who is struggling with their mental health. 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health related breakdown. The more open conversations that happen, the more myths that can be broken about mental illnesses.

As individuals, employers and human beings, we need to help end the isolation that can often come with a mental illness. Raising positive awareness of mental health issues will help managers to support colleagues and staff who are struggling at work whilst addressing the needs of the business.

It’s Time to Talk

It is important to understand that mental ill-health can effect anyone, at any time of their life. They can be linked to personal issues, work problems or relationship breakdowns. The ‘strongest’ of people can often be the ones suffering most, as a mask gets pulled down and a smile gets painted on, no one would know any different. Just asking how somebody is can really make the world of difference to someone on their darkest day. Time to Talk Day encourages individuals to do just that – talk to each other!

Time to Talk Day – 6th February 2020 has been developed and is led by the charities ‘Time to Change’, ‘Mind’ and ‘Rethink Mental Illness’. This day encourages everyone, including businesses to add to the larger conversation and address the sigma around mental health, especially in the workplace.

Games, social events, printable materials and small encouragements such as stepping away from your desks to have a coffee and a chat can be great opportunities to start up a conversation around mental health, and act as that first stepping stone which could potentially be life changing for someone.

Speak up if you’re struggling. Talking does not make someone weak. It makes them human” – Andrew Solomon, a motivational author who has suffered with anxiety and depression.

Something as simple as talking can be a great step forward for anyone who may be suffering in solitude with their mental ill-health. Time to Talk have some fantastic resources on their website such as posters, email templates, games and activities to encourage talking about all aspects of mental health in the workplace that you can find here:

https://www.time-to-change.org.uk/get-involved/time-talk-day

https://www.time-to-change.org.uk/sites/default/files/TtC%20Workplace%20Activity%20Pack%202020_0.pdf

Employee Assistance Programme – (EAP)

Alongside the face to face support within the workplace, there is also a professional service that can be offered to employees that is practical and confidential.

Acorn’s Employee Assistance Programme is a service that can help an individual at a time when they maybe don’t know where to turn.

The service is available 24/7 with trained service representatives at the end of every phone, ready to guide you to the best specialist support or counselling. Whether it’s a personal issue, coping with grief, workplace pressure, financial troubles, parenting challenges or a question that you just don’t know where to get the answer, the EAP system is designed to answer any questions immediately, where applicable, or refer you to the most appropriate advisor, counsellor or source of information.

This has proven a successful tool from start to finish for many companies. Having a number to call instantly when faced with troubles and being able seek guidance before a mental illness comes into the picture, an employee can speak to someone that is qualified to give accurate support.

But what is most important, it gives a person a safe place to talk to a professional. If an employee has been away from the workplace, they can use this service to help them comfortably get back into work knowing that they have the EAP system in place to support them through the process.

At Acorn Occupational Health, we like to practice what we preach and have an EAP for all of our staff as well as offering this as a service to other businesses.

We are also enthusiastically participating in Time to Talk Day 2020. Have a look on our social platforms to see what we are actively doing to cut the stigma of mental health in the workplace.

By changing how we talk about mental health issues, we can begin to impact negative mindsets and behaviours which affect so many people.

Let’s make a difference, today.