Mental Health Awareness Week
You would have to be hiding on a desert island somewhere with no links to the rest of the world to not have noticed that this week is Mental Health Awareness week. Having said that it may be that being on the desert island is a conscious thought to protect your mental health, and it sounds like a good strategy!
Whether it is listening to Prince William taking over 300 radio stations, watching some really interesting documentaries on the BBC (other channels are available) or reading posts on LinkedIn there has been a lot going on. There have been those that have criticised businesses that only get on board for this week and then go back to stressful working practices as soon as it’s over; and I am sure there are some of those around. However, as the eternal optimist that I am, I do think that slowly but surely the previously stigmatised and avoided topic of mental health is coming to the fore and the stigma starting to go.
I clearly remember my first experience of poor mental health, back when I was only 17. I got a call in the night from a mutual friend of a family member to tell me that he had been taken seriously ill and was in hospital in Northampton, the prestigious St Andrews no less. “Why, what has happened?” I asked in a panicked way as the family member was someone I was very close to, “he’s had a complete mental breakdown and had to be sectioned” I was told. I had no idea what this meant, what is a breakdown? Has he fallen over? What do you mean sectioned? I went to visit the next day and had the very scary experience of seeing a family member completely unaware of who he was, in fact he had such a vivid psychosis that he was convinced he was Keanu Reeves – funny now but not at the time. I remember nurses having to explain to me what this meant, the likelihood of recovery and the long path to that.
It is not my place in this blog to go in to this in more detail as that is private to that person, but they have struggled ever since and had very varied support from healthcare services, which is not me having a dig at healthcare services but more at the lack of funding and prioritisation; but that’s it for politics!
I was myself though inspired by the incredible care that he was given at St Andrews, so much so that when I saw a role there as HR Manager not long after getting my CIPD qualification, I leapt at the chance and worked there for nearly 5 happy years.
My main point with this blog is that Mental Health Awareness Week is a great initiative, but we need to be raising awareness and offering support every single day, not for 5 days out of 365. This applies not just to businesses, but also schools so that children grow up aware of mental health and how to look after their own and support others.
This week on LinkedIn as a team we have been sharing our own top tips for keeping our own mental health on an even keel – so do have a look there for some very varied advice; as we are all very different https://www.linkedin.com/company/2644647/admin/
If you would like any further information or advice on any health issues in the workplace you can give us a call on 01536 215240 or email firstname.lastname@example.org