Living and working with a mental health diagnosis doesn’t mean just existing, with the right kind of support, it can also mean flourishing . . .
When it comes to the workplace, our mental health and wellbeing is a convergence of three main factors. Firstly, as I am sure many of you are aware, one in four of us at any given time will be dealing with a mental health issue; secondly, work-related stress is a leading factor, not only in staff absenteeism but also in presenteeism and, finally, we spend most of our adult lives in the workplace.
Although the hours spent in a traditional working environment may have changed since the pandemic, the number of hours we spend at work is more-or-less the same and, in some cases, more. No wonder then, that work and mental health often clash and fray. If the pandemic had not pushed it to the top of every employer’s agenda, then something else would.
Mental health and wellbeing, however, is neither static nor fixed. It exists on a spectrum and can fluctuate throughout our lives. You can go from having no mental health diagnosis to a severe diagnosis, and from being at peak mental wellness to rock bottom mental wellness.
This means that, between those four points, you could have a mental health diagnosis that is well managed and so be displaying good mental health, or you could have a diagnosis that you are not dealing with very well at a particular point and so have poor mental health. You could have no diagnosis at all and be in tip top condition or have no diagnosis and yet be in poor mental health and so find yourself not coping as well as you would like to without really knowing why.
The World Health Organisation defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social-wellbeing, not merely the absence of disease of infirmity.”
At work, your staff need to be not just mentally well but also physically well too. One can affect the other after all.
Employees with a mental health diagnosis may need extra support with their role. Some companies do much better at safeguarding the mental health and wellbeing of their staff than others which is why, at This year’s This Can Happen conference, we will be talking to several individuals about how they manage their diagnoses and how their mental health issues were handled in their respective work environments.
Although great strides have been made in de-stigmatising mental health issues, more work still needs to be done, so that, no matter what the status of their mental health, your employees feel happy, valued, supported and able to fulfil their roles.
Whilst living and working with a mental health diagnosis can sometimes make life challenging, there are always solutions to be found, lessons to be learned and guidance to be shared.
Not everyone at work wants to be a mental health first aider or a wellbeing champion but, with enough information, we can all be mental health advocates.
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