Let’s start with the basics… What is mental health?

The world health organisation defines mental health as:

“a state of well-being in which every individual realises their own potential, can cope with the normal stressors of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to their community”

Mental health is a part of overall health and it lies on a continuum just like physical health :muscle::skin-tone-2:. It can be acute and impacted by director stressors in one’s life. Or it can be chronic and in the form of mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, mood, psychosis and eating disorders:green_heart: 

Each individual is different and so how they behave when going through periods of good or poor mental health will be different;

:chart_with_upwards_trend: One’s mental health is impacted positively by protective factors that can be individual (self-belief, problem-solving and communication abilities, relationships, physical health and physical activity) or societal (security and safety, financial stability, healthcare, social equality, housing) factors.

:chart_with_downwards_trend: In the converse, mental health is impacted negatively by risk factors, which are also individual (life events, substance abuse, experiences of loss, work stress, interpersonal conflict or lack of support) and societal (poor public services, experience of stigma and discrimination, poor living and community circumstances) factors.

So…Why should we care? :shrug::skin-tone-2:

Mental health issues can affect anyone and people often report that stigma and discrimination can have more harmful effects and exacerbate their ill health.If your fellow colleagues don’t feel they can express when they are going through periods of mental ill-health:man-gesturing-no::skin-tone-2:, then they are likely to keep quiet :zipper_mouth_face: and not seek the help and support they would need in order to return to a place of good mental health:disappointed:. If this happens, absenteeism and presenteeism (being at work when too unwell to work) increase and everyone in the team suffers. Also, the mental health of the person can deteriorate even further and result in a serious chronic mental health condition that can take much longer to treat. 

:face_with_head_bandage: Having greater awareness of the factors impacting mental health enables you to:

Although everyone will show signs of mental ill-health in different ways, there are common early warning signs one can look out for:

Being in a position to spot when someone is in need of support and understand how best to support them can prevent this from happening, as well as create a positive and enjoyable work environment where team members are happy in their job and their team :handshake: :hugging_face:

And finally… How can we support our team’s wellness?

Now you know what it is, and how to spot it… So let’s look at what to do about it! The first thing to know is that you cannot fix someone’s mental health issues, and more often than not, coming to them with a solution-driven mindset can be counterproductive:pleading_face:The most important thing is that the person feels that they have been heard and that you can empathise with their situation. Do not try to fix or solve how they are feeling, rather offer support and a safe space for them to share:green_heart: 

:speaking_head_in_silhouette:Start with offering up a chat: If the person accepts, you can set it up virtually or find a private space where you feel the person will be most comfortable. Keep the conversation positive, be empathetic and take them seriously :people_hugging:

Useful questions to ask:

Afterwards, don’t be afraid to check in on them and see how they are doing and encourage them to keep you updated because you genuinely care.

Now what?
Remember, mental health is something everyone needs to maintain and work on, and just like physical health, we can go through periods of mental ill-health suddenly or frequently, depending on our situation.

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