By Richard Lawrence-Allen
TRIGGER WARNING:THIS BLOG FRANKLY DISCUSSES THE TOPIC OF SUICIDE AND CONTRIBITORY MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES.
As you may already be aware, RSVP has made an active pledge through working with Time to Change to open the conversation about mental health in the workplace. RSVP is dedicated to fostering a work environment where staff feel comfortable talking about mental health issues with their colleagues and management in an open and honest dialogue.
The stigma surrounding mental health issues is slowly being chipped away at, and the way to ensure that this fantastic progress continues in the right direction is keeping that conversation open. Today marks this year’s World Health Organisation’s (WHO) World Mental Health Day, a day to remind people that it’s okay to talk about your problems without fear of judgement or prejudice. Today is a day to remember that sometimes it is okay not to be okay, but that there are always people there that can help you.
The theme of this year’s World Mental Health Day is 40 Seconds of Action. Every 40 seconds someone across the world dies by suicide. It is the goal of WHO to tackle this global epidemic by improving awareness of the significance and scale of suicide as a global health problem and to improve the knowledge of what individuals and organisations can do to help prevent suicide.
Establishing a support network is often vital in getting through periods of poor mental health. Oftentimes, just knowing someone is there for you when you need them, or that someone has gone through or is going through a similar experience as you can make a world of difference. Finding out from those who may be struggling how you might be able to help them, and making sure that they know that they are safe to talk about their fears, problems and or concerns in a safe a nurturing place could well save a life in some circumstances.
Sometimes, the support of a loved one isn’t quite enough and professional help will be needed. Some people still hold aggressively on to stigmas about seeking help from professionals when it comes to mental health issues. However, it is categorically not a shameful thing to ask for help when you may be struggling. In fact, asking for help and support when you need it can be one of the hardest, but one of the very strongest things that a person can do.
If you break your leg you will not think twice about seeing a doctor to help mend your broken bone, and we as a society are slowly learning that we should be treating psychological illness with the care, respect and attention that we already offer to physical illnesses. Just because we can’t see a problem does not mean that it is not there and that it does not need treating.
WHO estimates that as many as one in four people will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives. More than 800 000 people die by suicide every hear and it remains the leading cause of death among people aged 15-29 years old. Suicide is not a simple or easy topic to discuss and neither are the range of different mental health issues that, left untreated, could lead to suicidal thoughts. However, World Mental Health Day aims to bring people together in their shared experiences of mental health problems with an empathetic and unifying voice. Sitting down with friends, family and colleagues and discussing mental health issues in safe and constructive environment helps break down the misunderstandings of mental health issues and finds common ground. You may find that more people are feeling the way you are than you realised, and you may be able to offer each some much needed help and support.
Next time you suspect that someone may be struggling with their mental health, make sure that they know you are there for them if they need you, or that you are there to listen if they wish to talk. They may not wish to talk, or they may not wish to talk at that moment, that is their decision to come to. Nevertheless, making sure that people know that your door is always open should they need you is a gift greater than gold.
In the workplace, an employer can do several things to help their staff in times of mental health needs. Keeping an open-door policy and ensuring that staff know that they are free to discuss their issues with management is the first step to make. It’s much harder to help people if you don’t know that they are in need. Offering practical plans of action and allowances for workload during times of poor mental health can also be helpful. Finally, being able to direct staff members to professional organisations that can offer expert help and advice will also be invaluable.
Here are RSVP, we aim to offer our staff the kind of safe working environment and foster a workplace where good mental health practices can thrive and we are always open to new suggestions from staff on what we can do to support their needs further. Have a fantastic and productive World Mental Health Day everyone!