There has been a swath of reporting over the summer months regarding mental health awareness focusing on young children and teenagers, teachers, homeless, the military, high street staff whose jobs are under threat, athletes….the list is endless. Why? Because we all have the ability to experience poor mental health at different times in our lives and how we respond to it, and how others respond to it, can define the recovery time and whether it is an acute episode or becomes a chronic one.
It is an unfortunate truth that more often than not you’ll hear someone say “in my day, we just got on with it” or “never did us any harm”………….but maybe the response needs to be “how do you know it did no harm?” We used to amputate limbs in the 1800s without anaesthetic, but doesn’t mean we’d advocate it now as fortunately we have developed our understanding and skills to handle this more effectively and compassionately.
How many of us have enjoyed a relaxing summer away either from work or in a different location and commented on a “different pace of life”? Those precious few hours, days or weeks that we can stop and recharge our batteries. We often think this is about our physical health, but physical and mental well being go hand in hand.
CIPD research identified an increase in staff reporting suffering from mental health issues with 42% confirming they have experienced mental health issues in the last 36 months.
When someone has a physical restriction, like a back problem, migraine, or broken leg we are able to proactively help them and it is rare that someone feels awkward in asking if they are OK, need anything or how the problem came about.
The same cannot be said for those who suffer with mental ill health – the problem is often that we are unsure whether this is a long term problem; a transient reaction to particular stresses at that moment in time, whether we are the root cause of the problem, or if it is a chronic condition that flares unexpectedly at unknown times.
Our reaction to others’ mental well being invariably hinders our ability to just be kind, compassionate and caring….something we all have the capacity to do naturally as humans.
Recognising our own and others need to mental health and fitness is not a weakness – in fact it is anything but.
As we return to work after the summer break, perhaps we should all set ourselves a task of stepping up to the plate in recognising our own wellbeing and that of others.