One in four people in the UK will have a mental health problem at some point, according to Mental Health England. This can have a significant impact on your work. The average employee works for a total of 1,795 hours a year, so it’s natural that the workplace environment can have a huge impact on your mental health.
The UK has come a long way. As more of us are impacted by mental health, more of us feel able to talk about it. This is helped hugely by high profile campaigns from Royals, authors and actors, whose efforts have normalised response efforts and helped remove the stigmas from the past. Mental health funding in the UK is up £1.4 billion from three years ago, with clear targets in the NHS long-term plan.
However, there is still a long way to go. 67% of employees still feel uncomfortable discussing their mental health at work and nine out of ten still experience a stigma against them when they do, according to the Mental Health Foundation.
Your employer can help by ensuring they operate strict bullying policies, provide access to mentors and ensure a management led open-door policy. Mental health champions and first aiders should be trained to provide support and a good office design will provide good lighting, sociable spaces, breakaway zones and access to fresh air, in order to help generate a feeling of calm and wellness. These are things your employers should provide, but there are simple things you can do to ensure you look after your mental health. Here are some ways that you can stay healthy at work:
1. Taking desk or location breaks is key.
This might be going for a short walk or making sure you take full lunch breaks. Don’t give in to desk lunches – use breakout areas and get outdoors!
2. Make time for exercise around work.
Some employers offer yoga or gym memberships. Why not suggest to your boss that they invite wellness, sports and exercise instructors to your workplace to provide sessions in the office?
3. Breathing techniques can help to remain calm.
There are a range of meditative apps and mindfulness podcasts that can help with this. The NHS has a page dedicated to breathing exercises here.
4. Eating well and eating enough will help you maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Get a good breakfast, snack on fruit and nuts and drink plenty of water.
5. Stay on top of work-life balance.
Log off from work when it’s the end of the day. People need a break. When it’s a holiday, turn off your phone. A complete break from work is remarkable for wellbeing and creativity.
6. Where possible, use flexitime to build a better work-life balance.
Speak to your employer about homeworking from time to time. Performance is more important than presenteeism!
Not all workplaces have policies in place that are appropriate to support mental health, but there are laws and rights in place regardless, which can be accessed here.
Joining groups or talking to like minded people is also an excellent way to look after your mental health. Groups such as Andy’s Man Club, a peer to peer support group for men, meet on a weekly basis and provide an avenue for men to talk. Their movement, #ITSOKTOTALK, is providing vital awareness of mental health across the UK. Find out more here.
At Rullion, we’re passionate about workplace wellbeing, for our own employees and as a workplace provider. By encouraging awareness, providing the right workplace culture and increasing dialogue around the subject, we can hopefully work together to improve the statistics.
Here are some helpful links: