It’s a funny thing, mental health and wellbeing. When we’re feeling good, we barely give it a thought, busying ourselves with our lives and getting on with things. But when things aren’t quite right, what we feel can be all-encompassing, insidious, and frightening. It damages our ability to parent, work, and generally get the most out of life.
Beyond Blue, Australia’s leading mental health support service, has seen an incredible 30% spike in demand for their services since the coronavirus crisis first hit. In our latest webinar, we talk in detail with Michael O’Hanlon, a workplace mental health specialist at Beyond Blue. In the webinar, Michael explains what mental health really means, how to keep our staff mentally healthy, and much more.
When most of us think of ‘mental health’ we think of well-known mental health conditions, such as depression or anxiety. But this isn’t correct, says Michael. Mental health is far more than conditions, it’s a more positive construct, best described by the following definition:
‘A state of well-being in which the individual realises his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to the community.’
Given the broader definition of mental health, Michael says that it’s also important that we remember that it’s not a fixed state, but rather, a continuum, going from ‘green,’ where you’re feeling fine, to ‘amber,’ where you’re at risk of experiencing issues, and ‘red,’ where you’re struggling from a mental health perspective. The key, Michael says, is to ensure that if we are approaching the amber, we employ certain mechanisms to ensure we don’t move into the red zone.
Michael shares what these coping strategies are in the webinar. Watch it here.
Keeping yourself mentally healthy at this time is only the first challenge, unfortunately. If you’ve got staff, Michael says, it’s very important that you also do your best to ensure that they are mentally healthy as this will significantly impact their engagement and productivity.
Right now though, it’s important to remember that if your staff are experiencing issues, that’s ‘normal.’ and even to be expected at a time like this. Even in non-pandemic times, the instance of mental health issues is quite high, with one in three women experiencing anxiety, and one in five men, as well as one in six women experiencing depression, and one in eight men. That number, at the moment, would most likely be higher Michael believes.
But how do you know if your staff are experiencing issues? Michael says that the following behaviours could indicate that they’re struggling:
‘Physically, people might be saying they’ve had disturbed sleep, a change in appetite, they’re sick or run down, or fatigued. They might be feeling overwhelmed, indecisive, lacking confidence or irritable.’
‘They may also be experiencing negative thoughts, feeling hopeless, helpless or worthless. And finally, from a behavioural perspective, they might not be able to concentrate, may have reduced productivity, may be using alcohol or other drugs and may be socially withdrawing.’
If your staff are showing these signs, what should you do? Michael runs through various support options in the webinar. Watch it here.
As a mum, it’s easy to look past mental health but it’s critical that we don’t. Listen to the webinar now to ensure you stay at your best - and help your staff do the same.
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