How many of us leave work at the office door when we go for the day? Or can we these days? We are all accessible 24/7 with all this modern technology, smartphones, laptops, tablets etc. When working in the early 1980s, we switched off from the day; it was called relaxing. We did this in many different ways, from participating in sports, spending time with friends and family or listening to music. Sounds simple, doesn’t it, and it was, why? Because when we left work, that was it, there weren’t any mobile phones, computers or tablets to distract us. We left work that night or weekend, and we picked up from where we left off the next day. And you know what? Work still got done.
Then something happened, we discovered that technology could bind us together in ways we weren’t expecting. Suddenly mobile phones and computers meant getting away from the work environment wasn’t that easy. We still played sports, socialised and listened to music but now work started to creep into our leisure time. To a point, we now struggle to escape that work environment.
This is now causing too many mental health issues. There is so much advice about mental health in the workplace, but who is looking after this? Who is responsible for the management of our mental health? And before you say, what do I know about it? I was a victim of mental health and spent over ten months with time away from work getting regular help to get me back on track.
This is why I am passionate about mental health at work. What is needed to help mental health in the workplace? The straightforward old fashioned act of looking after each other and having the conviction to say something to someone who seems to be struggling. That is all it takes.
If it wasn’t for one of my staff having an ‘offline’ conversation with me about how my behaviour was changing, I might not have noticed things changing within myself until it was too late.
The problem is, and as one who went through this, you don’t necessarily know you have changed, perhaps becoming more angry or withdrawn, but those around you do. So who is responsible for mental health within the workplace? Every single one of us needs help from those we coexist with. After all, we do spend a lot of time with our colleagues at work.
People are scared of the words ‘mental health’, so let me put it in its most basic form: – Mental Health is when our minds struggle to comprehend something or a series of somethings. It causes confusion, anxiety, fear and other related problems, which, left unchecked, causes us conscious issues. That’s it in the best basic form I can think of describing it. People struggle to understand as we live our lives from our eyes, but often with mental health, it is observing what isn’t there which makes the difference. I was losing respect for myself and those around me, I didn’t see this, but a member of my staff did and took the decision to talk to me about it, and I am grateful she did.
Let’s start the simple act of taking care of our work colleagues, friends and families, by having that conviction to speak up if you think something isn’t right. A gentle, calm, and understanding conversation can make the difference, and it doesn’t matter who they are, senior or junior. Just having a genuine, compassionate conversation and showing concern is all it takes. And we can do that without the aid of a laptop, tablet or mobile phone, and we certainly don’t need to google compassion.
Common sense and a duty to help is all we need; in fact, we will ever need. So, no excuses, let’s
start a workplace campaign to “Speak up and Buddy Up” You could be that person to stop someone from becoming a victim of themselves, and that is a fantastic thing to do for someone.
I’ve spoken up and told you of what happened to me because I feel it is vital for us to look after each other. Did having mental health issues make me weaker? Hell no, it has made me stronger in many ways. So do not become fearful of something you don’t understand, as the act of helping someone who may be struggling is what makes us human. And being human is so needed in to-days modern work environment.