Not only is mental health a subject that is very close to my heart, it’s also a growing problem that needs to be more openly discussed. I hope this article helps you or a friend who may be suffering.
What is Mental Illness?
Mental illness obviously comes in many forms and, to make it even more complicated, the symptoms are even more diverse. It is often very difficult to understand from the outside, and can even be tough to spot if you are a sufferer. When I was trying to understand it, I found the ‘I had a Black Dog …’ videos by the World Health Organization were very helpful. Whilst they focus on depression, it’s a good starter for ten if you are trying to make sense of it all. They’re awesome,and you can watch them below.
What are the signs?
The signs can be difficult to spot, but here’s a few to look out for:
- feeling anxious or depressed
- emotional outbursts
- problems sleeping
- weight or appetite changes
- becoming quiet or withdrawn
- substance abuse
- feeling guilty or worthless
Don’t worry, we all encounter degrees of these problems at different times. However, if any of them start to get out of hand, you or a friend may be heading in the wrong direction.
What sort of things can help?
There is clearly no ‘silver bullet’ when dealing with mental health, but most companies have programmes in place. If you are in any doubt, your HR department will point you in the right direction. Within Jackson we have support programmes in place which include online advice through Employer Assistance Programmes, independent phone support and management training initiatives. We have also recently undertaken a wide scale survey to try and map out the current state of play. We’re on a journey and learning all the time.The focus at Board level is all about awareness and encouraging open discussions in our teams. Change can create stress, and in a business like ours, things change all the time. We must all be aware of the stress that change can create.
How can you get or give help?
- Look for signs – Keep your antennae up and look for signs that you, or someone you know, may be struggling.
- Open the door – The journey can only begin if you get out of the starting blocks. Ask leading questions like ‘How are you?’ or tell a colleague ‘I’m feeling low, can we have a chat?’ Don’t over think it, just blurt it out and help will be on the way before you know it.
- Get professional help – Once you know there’s a problem, seek professional help quickly. There is so much help available from people who really care. The quicker you get the experts involved, the better.
- Share your story – Once things are settled, if you can, please share your experiences. They could be as a helper or as the person who needed the help. Both your openness, and the knowledge you have learnt, will be massively helpful to others just beginning their fight.
So don’t be afraid. Now is the time to help or be helped.