It’s World Mental Health Day! Having worked in different mental health charities it’s usually a day that leads other awareness days with various campaigns to get the universe talking and thinking about mental health. Each year there is usually a theme involved and this year it’s ‘Wellbeing at Work’.
I’ve been contributing to feedback about workplace wellbeing for a while now where I’m at and in my previous work place I created a ‘Wellbeing at Work’ reflective space initiative for my team. We did monthly meditation and shared openly. Innovation is important and we need to champion the voices of those who may be struggling with their mental health. After all, being able to work with a mental health problem is not always a walk in the park. I started out part time and as I got older and realised the cost of living a life I desired combined with the expectation of me from society, I aspired to work full time. This may be ‘normal’ to many. Of course. It’s a given. “Work hard, play hard!” they say. You’re labelled if you don’t. Whatever that label may be, there’s a strong chance stigma is behind it all.
I remember the first time I went full time. 2 part time jobs it was that made up full time hours. A 2 day and 3 day post. I was overwhelmed. Anxiety caved me in and I was very, very low. I didn’t last long in the 3 day one. I was given 2 weeks off to ‘recover’ and make a decision as to what I wanted to do. My 2 weeks off to recover were mostly spent catastrophising and feeling like an automatic failure. (I know, I know – failure comes with learning and resilience but at the time it made me feel like that as a whole person. Not just my work self). I spent evenings calling Sane Line for emotional support and Samaritans in the day time. I didn’t want my family to think I was struggling. I was ashamed.
Many don’t realise there’s a lot of reasonable adjustments out there that can be requested to support people with their mental health at work. From flexible hours, to working from home, to meeting amendments and more. WRAPs (Wellbeing Recovery Action Plans) are also available. The problem is, sometimes we struggle with self stigma. Which can affect our ability to ask. Or worse still, workplace stigma.
I know I for one self-stigmatise/criticise and fear workplace stigma even if it’s all in my not so well head, it still feels real to me.
“I’m not good enough”, “I don’t deserve to be here”, “they’d be better off without me”, “They’ll think I can’t do the job”, “they’ll think I’m rubbish”, “I’ll fall behind”, “I’ll let others down”, “they’ll think I don’t deserve and shouldn’t be here”, “they’ll want me to leave”.
👆🏻Me. Most times my mental health goes on a downward spiral.
I was having a conversation just the other day with a friend where the familiar question formed as to whether work was affecting mental health or mental health was affecting work – as living with mental health problems, sometimes it’s really hard to tell what way round it is.
The worst part about all of this is that we may not talk about it. It’s become more acceptable to talk about ‘Burn Out’ but more as a risk to an organisation if someone were to ‘burn out’ rather than a risk to the individual’s mental health.
Feeling isolated on top of what you are already are experiencing can add to the turmoil. Even if you have one or two trusted folk to confide in, try and let it out, you don’t need to suffer in silence. Managers and leadership in a workplace should be working toward understanding and best practice when it comes to managing staff who are experiencing poor mental health at work. It may not be easy to have faith in support but it’s worth a try. You do deserve it and you are so worthy.
I know this blog refers more to workplace wellbeing and self employment will differ but do reach out. Whoever that may be to.
✨Have a very good World Mental Health Day ✨wherever you are in the world 🌎