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Future proofing our mental health

Posted on 12 March 2019

We all experience ups and downs and pressures in life, and there is increasing evidence that these ups and downs impact on our working lives as well. Several organisations have begun recently to look at how our personal concerns impact on life at work and vice versa.

One important aspect of this is that it helps us to understand that our mental health is not static and will change according to what is happening around us.

I want to go a step beyond this understanding as I believe that there are ways we can protect ourselves before the pressures build.

 

Mental health at work. Some progress but we need to do more

For decades now when we go to work we expect our employers to keep us safe. We do not anticipate being exposed to toxic chemicals or dangerous machinery. We also get time off for holidays and we do not expect to work until we are exhausted.

This is all good and right, but until recently there has been a bit of a gap, our bodies were protected but our minds were ignored. Somehow our mental health was thought to be our personal business and nothing to do with our working environment.

The government’s Thriving At Work report estimated that the cost of mental health problems at work was more than £30 billion. That is a lot of human misery!

I see the results of this in my cognitive hypnotherapy clinics. Anxiety, relationship problems, a feeling of not being able to cope.  Often the issues are complex, and work and home life affect each other.

Thankfully this is beginning to change. The most enlightened companies and employers are beginning to realise that they cannot get the best out of their workforce if that workforce is stressed, anxious and unhappy.

We now have considerable evidence of what works. A decent work life balance, being open about any problems, plus available support which can catch any problems early.

Just as we all have physical health, we all have mental health - and it can be tiptop or okay or poor. And for many of us we move up and down along a spectrum at different times.

I do have some lessons from my clients. Often people can put up with considerable stress at work if their home life and relationships are good. But if they start to encounter problems at home as well then things at work can quickly spiral out of control. Conversely, if people feel insecure or bullied at work then this can impact on their personal life.

I think it is worth looking at what we know about work life balance. It is not just about time, although that is important. It is also about valuing the different areas of our lives and respecting our own personal time.  It is about getting a feeling of meaning from our work if we can, and also understanding how important personal fulfilment is to our wellbeing.

Personal fulfilment is the key. This can come from work or other areas of life. It is not necessarily about outward success. It is about what makes you happy and contented at a deeper level.

I would often advise people to think about the issues before trouble starts. Consider it as protecting yourself against future storms.

The UK voice of employee assistance recently covered a report from a global professional services company which surveyed 92 employers about what they felt were the concerns which impacted on their employee’s mental health.   One thing that arose from the report is that a culture of silence is very damaging.

Unsurprisingly money and debt, divorce and separation plus bullying and harassment at work were all also big factors.

Relate, the relationship charity, estimates that almost one in five relationships are in trouble at any time.  Other personal pressures include caring responsibilities which can take a big toll with one in nine adults in the UK are combining work with caring for elderly relatives.  Looking after children can also put pressure on people.

Of course, one or more of these pressures will happen to most of us at some time in our lives. Stress and pressure are not static, and therefore our mental state is not static.

The https://buff.ly/2VJlzHm Survey of employers about workplace mental health. 92 employers surveyed, 39 stated that money and debt were their biggest concerns for employee mental health, 27 said divorce and separation, 26 said bullying and harassment .#workplace #Harassment

 

https://buff.ly/2svGxf8 FT reports on companies offering support to help employees mental health. It makes business sense

 





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