Mental health affects us all. How we think, how we feel and how we live our daily lives. Mental health illnesses refer to a wide range of conditions that relate to how a person feels, perceives a situation, and behaves. These range from mild levels to quite severe, depending on the strength of the illness, of which there are over 200 classified forms. 

If you struggle with your mental health, you may find that the ways you react to certain situations and feel about things becomes difficult. Similarly, if you had a physical illness, a broken wrist would affect your daily tasks such as driving, lifting, and even eating. Most people would see their Doctor and undertake appropriate treatment. However, mental health has not always been looked upon in the same efficient way.

Now more than ever, looking after your mental health is just as important as taking care of your physical health. The whole world is currently going through a monumental shift and historic moment in time. This means we all need to keep our mental health in check to ensure we can live and work to the best of our ability, no matter what life throws at us.

Getting to know the Facts and Figures 

Mental health has become mainstream in the press and media over recent years, with more and more people opening up about their past and current difficulties with their mental health. However, few of us know how to differentiate between one disorder to another. 

Depression – Around 3 million people in the UK are diagnosed with depression every year, making this the highest and most common form of mental illness not just in the UK but also worldwide. The mental health charity, Mind, have researched that more than half of these people will or have tried to commit suicide because of their illness. 

Anxiety – In a lifetime, most people will have the feeling of anxiousness whilst coping with stressful events or changes, particularly if it has a big impact on your life. 25% of anxiety sufferers are between the ages of 13 and 18 years old. Spotting any early signs of anxiety is essential, especially for young people, to support them and prevent further mental health illnesses.

Bipolar – Bipolar is a type of depression that is often characterised with mood swings from one extreme to the other. From feeling high to crashing to a depressively low mood. 

Stress – Most of us have, or certainly will experience some strain of stress in our lifetime. 85% of UK adults are experiencing stress regularly. Although stress is not a psychiatric diagnosis, it can cause and aggravate underlying mental health problems such as depression and anxiety. An individual may think that this is well controlled but added stressors can potentially pull these issues to the surface.

It has been noted that 1 in 5 people will call in sick due to workplace stress. Although it may not feel so at the time, starting a conversation about mental health doesn’t have to be difficult. More than 60% of employers said that they would like to do more to improve staff wellbeing but need specialist guidance of how to do so in the correct and most effective way. 

Spot the Signs

Early intervention is key in the diagnosis of a mental health illness and supporting someone that may be struggling to come to terms with the illness. Many people suffer in silence when they have a mental health condition and reports show that just 21% of people with a mental health condition are actively in employment. By tracking absence, employers can identify when people are taking regular days off sick or more days than usual. This could be the first sign that there may be underlying mental health conditions.

Act now, before it is too late

Statistics from ‘The Shaw Mind Foundation’ show that within the UK, mental health problems in the workplace cost the economy approximately £70 billion annually. Employers need to be actively thinking about their workplace culture from the start. This is something that will naturally grow and develop with a business, but you need to be influencing it daily. What do you want your working environment to be like? Remember that individuals are all different and that people will naturally shine and possibly struggle in different ways. Addressing and assisting in these areas will create happy workers, which is not only a positive mental influence, but employers will gain a more productive workforce that has full confidence in their company.

Listen – Always take time to listen to your employees. The first signs of spotting a change in the workplace can come from contact with fellow workers. Engaging with the whole workforce regularly and encouraging discussions can flag up any early concerns.

Take a Break – Encourage employees to step away from their workstation. Take a walk in the fresh air or walk to a local café to grab a coffee. This can intercept the feelings of stress before they become overwhelming. 

Support Training for Managers – Specialised mental health charities like ‘Mind’ hold training and consultancy courses to support HR and managers around various areas of mental health including Emotional Intelligence and Supporting Someone with Mental Health. This can provide essential guidance and support for employers. 

Appraisals – Regular appraisals are great for everyone, especially someone who may be feeling vulnerable, stressed or overwhelmed. It’s a great way to have a one to one and discuss any potential adjustments or support that can be put in place. And also, to give credit where credit is due.

Use your Occupational Health – Having an Occupational Health service can provide that steppingstone between an employee and a manger which can prove helpful if there are any workplace stressors. Gaining guidance from a professional is valuable not just for the employee, but essential to the employer. Occupational Health provide medical guidance on how to support an individual at work and assist in the correct way.

At Acorn Occupational Health we have seen an active increase in workplace absence directly linked to mental illnesses. There is no way to pin-point the cause of a mental health problem as they are all individual to that person, however, getting that person fit and healthy, and back into work, significantly increases when there is a support system at work that can be relied upon.

Acorn Occupational Health can also help you with a great range of programmes and workshops to help further support your goals of promoting positive mental health in the workplace…

Well-Being Audit (Stress Audit)

This is a questionnaire based anonymous stress audit for businesses. It enables the employer to understand whether there are significant issues regarding employee well-being. It considers the most prevalent stressors in the organisation, whether they are real or perceived and an employee’s ability to cope. A report is then produced for the employer that offers advice regarding approaches that may reduce stress in the workplace.

BOUNCE Back Workshop

Acorn have recently launched a ‘BOUNCE Back Workshop’ which helps individuals with their mental health and resilience. This is a 1-day course where individuals will be given an understanding of stress, how to identify its potential sources, maintain focus in difficult situations and how to remain calm, in control and emotionally balanced. It also gives managers the correct advice in order to provide the appropriate support to employees and colleagues.

All of the tools taught on the workshop enable an individual to ‘bounce back’ from setbacks that might occur at any stage. 

Stress / Resilience Training 

What does stress look like? What exactly is stress?  This training covers the effects of stress and how you as an individual or an employer can learn to help. It also covers personality types along with the factors affecting how someone reacts to pressure and how employers can help to support these situations.

Well Persons Medical

This is a comprehensive medical assessment where employees are reassured that they are in good health, or that early action could prevent ill health. Dependant on your requirements, the medical can include blood pressure, pulse, urinalysis, mental health review, vision, cholesterol and glucose checks, a musculoskeletal review, weight and advice about lifestyle, diet and fitness.

EAP (Employee Assistance Programme)

Acorn’s Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, online and on the telephone. Designed to answer your questions immediately or to refer you to the most appropriate advisor, counsellor or source of information. The service includes legal, financial, consumer and personal advice and it is all completely confidential.

Counselling

Acorn can arrange counselling referrals with trained professionals who complete therapies such as Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. We can also arrange appointments with Psychiatric specialists, depending on the individual’s requirements.

Whether it is yourself that is dealing with a mental illness, or have an employee who is suffering, it is key to recognise that with the right guidance and help, a mental health illness is one that can be treated.

Don’t ignore your concerns, start your recovery now.  For more information on the services that Acorn provide, please contact the office on 01260 277797 or email info@acornoh.co.uk.

And for further information and advice on mental health issues, be sure to read the incredible resources, research and guidance at www.mind.org.uk