What is mental health?

Mental health is something we all have. When we enjoy good mental health, we have a sense of purpose and direction, the energy to do the things we want to do, and the ability to deal with the challenges that happen in our lives.
By
Leanne Rigby
April 12, 2019

Mental health is something we all have. When we enjoy good mental health, we have a sense of purpose and direction, the energy to do the things we want to do, and the ability to deal with the challenges that happen in our lives. However, the reality is that most people’s mental health will rise and fall depending on pressures and experiences in their life.

We all have times when life gets on top of us – sometimes it’s work-related, like deadlines or travel, or personal circumstances like our health and relationships. We might look or feel very tired or drained. A person might lack motivation, isolate themselves, avoid colleagues or appear distracted.

You might see more obvious signs of a mental health problem – outbursts of anger or emotion, absences from work, or not looking after their appearance as they normally would. You may see signs that they have been sleeping less or perhaps drinking more in the evening. We may find these early warning signs hard to see in ourselves, and it can help to have our colleagues help connect this to our mental health.

Research by the Mental Health Foundation found most people have some experience of mental health problems, and the latest large-scale survey in England suggested that one in six people experience the symptoms of a mental health problem every week.

A major issue facing employees in relation to their wellbeing is the inability to switch off after work. All of us are guilty of playing servant to the constant barrage of notifications on our phones, but this lack of disconnect between work-life and non-work-life dramatically impacts people’s performance and happiness at work.

Mental health problems can affect anyone in any industry and yet mental health is often still a taboo subject. A recent study of 1000 employees by Michael Page in 2018, revealed that one-third of UK employees do not feel comfortable talking to their manager about mental health problems for fear of being judged.

There is clearly still work to do when it comes to breaking down stigma and providing the type of open and supportive culture that enables staff to be honest with their manager, to access support and to enjoy a healthy working life.

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