A Simple Strategy for Mental Health
- Date: Wednesday 20th June 2018
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It’s time to stop accepting ‘yes, I’m fine’ as a response to the question ‘are you alright?’ and think more proactively about workers’ mental health.
Whilst a small percentage of mental health (MH) issues fall into the areas of psychosis and schizophrenia; the majority are related predominantly to either depression or anxiety. We can be anxious that something will go wrong, and quite reasonably, be rather depressed about that prospect - and about it happening over and over again.
The solution is fewer thoughts about the past or future and more ‘in the present’ thinking - the increasingly popular concept of ‘mindfulness’.
Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) can also be useful. Through a logical deconstruction of our emotions, CBT points us towards thoughts such as ‘every minute spent wishing things that have already happened hadn’t happened is a minute wasted’ or ‘every minute spent worrying that something will happen steals a minute from efforts to ensure that it doesn’t’.
Identifying and helping those finding things difficult to impossible
We all spend time worrying, often unnecessarily, and thinking unproductive thoughts – it’s just a question of degree. Spotting people on the cusp of a ‘struggling to cope’ tipping point is key.
Ask ‘are you alright?’ and as often as not you’ll realise the actual answer is ‘not really’. It is generally recognised that men tend to respond to requests about their mental health state with ‘I’m fine, it’s nothing’ rather than ‘I’m so sorry to trouble you, but I may need some help here’.
It’s Not Going to Go Away
MH has been a largely ignored elephant in the room for years but it’s time has clearly come. With mental health services in the UK under increasing pressure in today’s society, it has to be a key item on the risk register for all organisations.
A mindful approach to mental health needs to be driven by senior management. Managing mental health as an inevitable sustainability/resource risk issue requiring a basic strategy and on-going tactics can help individuals to feel empowered and to speak up
A Two-Pronged Strategy
We need a sea change in the way we talk about and address the issue of mental health.
MH first aid is the first strand to a simple two-pronged mental health and wellbeing strategy. Increasingly organisations are training teams of mental health first aiders to start conversations, to help to pro-actively build a supportive culture and to spot people who are at risk of tipping off the edge and to refer them to appropriate support.
The second element is to have a holistic, integrated approach to resilience building. With individuals this means developing and reinforcing positive thinking and resilience skills.