For many of us, recent months have tested our mental health like never before. As we begin to emerge from isolation and adjust to life with fewer restrictions, there’s never been a better time to reflect on our mental wellbeing and the wellbeing of those around us.
Thanks to the Government’s National Mental Health Commission, together with numerous supporting bodies such as Beyond Blue, the awareness, understanding and importance of mental health across Australia is growing each day. Unfortunately, the statistics around mental health incidences are still alarming. Beyond Blue reports that when it comes to Australians:
- 1 in 7 experience depression in their lifetime
- 25% experience a form of anxiety in their lifetime
- 1 in 6 are currently experiencing depression, anxiety or both
- 1 in 6 females will experience depression in their lifetime, and 1 in 8 men
- 1 in 3 females will experience a form of anxiety in their lifetime, and 1 in 5 men
- 1 in 8 are currently experiencing high or very high psychological distress.
Such statistics are a powerful reminder that in almost every office across the country, at least one person (and likely more) is suffering, or has suffered, from some form of mental health challenge. Given we spend so much of our time at work, it’s therefore critical to know what signs of compromised mental health to look out for, and how we can check in on each other.
Keeping our people at their best
At Honan, we’re fortunate to partner with Access EAP – a fantastic provider of independent counselling – either face to face or over the phone/email – to any of our people who seek it. Noting our people are our most important asset, doing everything we can to keep them feeling their best is paramount. For us as an employer, that means:
- equipping our people with the ‘on demand’ support (via Access EAP) they need to navigate any situation that may be thrown their way
- providing regular tips for optimising mental health via monthly wellness newsletters
- through the Covid-19 WFH period, implementing a ‘buddy system’ to keep everyone connected, and attuned to each other’s challenges – big or small. Buddy catch ups have taken shape in all kinds of ways; from simple 10-minute virtual coffees to hour-long virtual lunch dates, or just a quick text exchange
- ensuring all our people know they’re supported, and will continue to be supported, come what may.
Common mental health challenges in the workplace
Anxiety and depression are the most common mental health issues occurring in office environments. Taking the time to observe the behaviours and emotional states of our co-workers, and ourselves, is paramount to the detection and prevention of anxiety and depression.
So what can we look out for? Beyond Blue has outlined some key signs and symptoms of depression.
Simple strategies to optimise mental health
Identifying challenges or concerns is one thing, but knowing what to do about them is the powerful next step. Mindblank have shared some great strategies for managing your own potential mental health issues and/or sharing with others in your team:
- Talk about your emotions: if you’re not comfortable sharing your thoughts with someone you know, professionals and communities are always there to help.
- Stay active: one of the best ways to release stress and feel-good chemicals in your brain is through exercise. 20-30 minutes per day more than two hours before sleep can improve your mental wellbeing and general health.
- Eat nutritious foods & stay hydrated: the food you eat nourishes your entire body, brain included! Eating a healthy, balanced diet is a major contributor to good mental health.
- Focus on one thing at a time: bringing mindfulness into your daily routine is incredibly beneficial for your health. You can start this practice by focusing on your breathing, and being present. Mindfulness and meditation apps abound!
- Go to bed on time: building a positive sleep routine is great for your wellbeing. Evidence suggests that the less sleep you get, the greater your chances of experiencing poor mental health.
Staying well – a shared responsibility
Amongst the pressures of work and everyday life at large, maintaining good mental health practices can quickly fall by the wayside. Importantly, we must remember we not only owe it to ourselves, but each other, to prioritise our states of wellbeing. The onus of responsibility is a shared one – to shift the statistics we must remember to look out for each other, and take active ongoing steps to keep our own mental health tip-top. We all have our struggles, but together we can lessen their impact, and support each other in living happy, healthy lives.
If you are feeling overwhelmed or believe you are suffering from a mental health issue, please reach out to a mental health professional. Here are some great additional resources: