Are you just surviving at work when you should be thriving?
The Mental Health Foundation is urging us all to look at mental health from a different angle this Mental Health Awareness Week (8-14 May 2017).
We often tackle mental health from a single perspective. We ask: how many people suffer from mental health problems, and how can we reduce that number?
But is 'not suffering from a mental health problem' good enough? Shouldn't we be aiming higher for our society?
This year the charity is asking why too few of us enjoy good mental health. They're claiming that more and more people - people who've not necessarily been diagnosed with a mental health disorder - are struggling to cope with the demands of daily life. Too many of us are surviving, but not thriving, and it's up to local authorities, educational establishments, employers and even families to step up and create a stronger support network that ensures everybody has the best chance of thriving.
In a blog written to promote the cause, MHF's Director of Fundraising and Communications Mark Roland wrote:
"...if we are going to develop a mentally healthy society, giving people the tools to thrive mentally is also fundamental. It is so important because none of us can escape life’s pain or disappointment. Resilience is a universal skill we all need to help each other learn to successfully navigate life."
'Resilience' - the ability to bounce back from hardship as a stronger person, isn't something we're all born with, but it's a skill that can be learnt. In fact, we offer resilience training as part of our Posturite consulting service.
Considering that most of us spend about a third of our entire lives at work, it's important that work makes us happy.
It is an employer's duty to create a workplace culture that not only supports people with established mental health problems, but promotes and nurtures good mental health for all.
Staff who feel happy and well supported at work are more likely to:
- feel willing and able to stand up to challenges
- feel and speak positively about work
- work productively
- take fewer sick days
- stay with the organisation for a long time.
The difference between surviving and thriving:
|Scenario 1||When life is hard, your performance at work is compromised.||When life is hard, your performance at work is compromised - but there is a support structure in place to help you cope.|
|Scenario 2||A busy, challenging period is coming up at work. You are dreading it so much it's affecting your sleep, wellbeing and personal relationships.||A busy, challenging period is coming up at work. You are nervous but confident that you have the right expertise and back-up from colleagues and managers to handle it.|
|Scenario 3||You are snowed-under and barely keeping up with your workload, which is causing you significant stress and encroaching on your personal life.||You are snowed-under and barely keeping up with your workload, but managers are aware and help is coming. Your employer values your work-life balance and knows that to get the most out of you, they must protect your wellbeing.|
As the above table demonstrates, there are challenging times in everyone's professional life - but it is the support structure in place (or lack of) that determines how that person copes, and how far it impacts their ability to work productively.
It is in the employer's interest to make wellbeing a real priority.
We've developed an interactive e-learning course that ensures all employees are trained in how to recognise work-related stress, and what they should do if they start to experience it.