Mental Health in the Workplace
The importance of speaking openly about mental health struggles in the workplace cannot be understated. Teams are at their most creative and productive state when they feel mentally well and safe and feel like they are being seen and heard by their colleagues and valued by management.
According to Able Futures, 3 out of 5 employees in the UK have experienced mental health issues such as: stress, anxiety, depression, sleep issues, and bereavement at work. My Whole Self is dedicated to bringing change to workplace culture and creating a better atmosphere for all.
Speedy Freight recognises the importance of mental health and wellbeing and offers a range of free resources to all employees across our network. In every office across our 60-branch network, we have printed informational posters available, that all employees of the branch can see and access. These posters direct employees to additional resources they can access.
We also provide opportunities for employees who want to get involved in helping other colleagues by providing them with training sessions and the opportunity to become qualified mental health first aiders to provide tips, knowledge, and support to all colleagues across the network.
My Whole Self: Mental Health England
My Whole Self is Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England's campaign for workplace culture change, culminating on #MyWholeSelf Day, which is every second Tuesday of March.
In a survey conducted by My Whole Self in March 2021, it was found that 29% of employees never discuss mental health in meetings with their line manager.
Their campaign aims to encourage people to bring their whole selves to work, which includes being able to openly talk about our mental health. Employers should create inclusive workplaces where people feel valued and safe, and no one feels the need to hide any part of themselves.
Getting to know those you work with and more about them and their life may make it easier for them to open up about their mental health and be in a better position to spot if they’re struggling.
Shona Brown, Speedy Freight’s Network Service Manager, recently underwent a training session with MHFA England, and became an MHFAider with a qualification in Mental Health First Aid.
Below she shares some of what she’s learned from her training session and tips on improving your mental health and stress levels in the workplace.
A Message from Shona Brown, Mental Health England First Aider
Our mental health is very important, it can affect how you treat yourself and others, as well as affecting your physical health. It’s important that we take time to address our worries and concerns to keep ourselves the best possible version we can be.
That’s not to say that our lives can be completely stress-free, but there are ways we can reduce these feelings, such as speaking to someone close or actively working on improving your mental health by making some small but significant changes in your life.
Here Are Some Mental Health Self-Care Tips:
Write a Reverse To-Do List: Write a list of jobs at the end of the day that have been completed rather than jobs to do in the morning. Whilst this list might not be full of the items on the to do list, it can feature all the other things that you have accomplished that day. You will see that whilst you may not have completed the jobs listed, that you have accomplished so much more in your time at work.
Take a Self-Care Hour: If you can, take time to spend 45 minutes to an hour on yourself. This can be playing computer games, reading a book, making a playlist, or planning a day out. This hour is meant to focus on you and the things you enjoy, and not be interrupted by work emails or calls. Our bodies and minds need rest, be kind to yourself.
Listen to Music: When feeling low, thinking about how you can feel better may seem difficult. What can help is music that evokes certain happy memories for you or even just tunes that you like the beat of. Create a playlist, add your tunes, press play, and simply relax for a while. Music can have a huge impact on mood, so feel-good happy tunes can help you feel your best and take a load off your mind.
Your Stress Container
Everyone has a stress container filled with various elements and happenings during our day that can weigh us down.
These can be personal events, work-based events, or events on a much bigger scale such as global ongoings we see in the news and on social media. These things can feel overwhelming and take a toll on your mental health. But how can we address these things that affect us?
When our stress levels build up, our “stress container” overflows, and this is when issues can develop, which can look different for everyone. Some common signs can be irritability, tearfulness, indecision, and even consuming more caffeine or alcohol.
When we use unhelpful coping methods such as overworking or increasing our misusing substances, this can block up the release of stress and the container can overflow. While we all use these methods sometimes, like any skill, we can learn how to replace these with healthy coping methods that can help empty our stress container.
Some helpful methods we can use to act as a tap to let stress out of the container and to stop it from overflowing can be being active (at the gym or outdoors), making time for the hobbies or activities we enjoy, or spending time with friends or family.
Mental Health Resources: The Hub of Hope
The right resources can make a big change, and there is a wealth of free online resources to get you started, whenever you need them.
The Hub of Hope, provided by the Chasing the Stigma team, is a very helpful website and app that shows you a list of available mental health resources in your area, organised by areas you may need support in, including anxiety, depression, LGBTQIA+ support, urgent crisis care, and more.
Its usage is confidential and anonymous. They also provide guides to read on topics that may be affecting you. The site can list all the available resources in your area from NHS teams to local drop-ins.
Work, home, and everyday events can have an impact on our mental health and wellbeing. It’s important to know that you’re never alone, and there are resources out there that can help you and guide you on the next steps to take depending on how you’re feeling and what you’re dealing with.
Some other mental health charities offering a range of free resources and services include Mind, Rethink Mental Illness, YoungMinds UK (for children and adolescents) and Mental Health Foundation. The NHS also provides mental health resources, including 24-hour crisis hotlines.
Speedy Freight’s Initiatives for Employee Health and Wellbeing
We’re dedicated to supporting our colleagues across our network and providing them with the tools they need to excel professionally and feel good on and off the job.
As a member of Able Futures, we provide all our colleagues with resources on managing stress in the workplace and providing them with additional mental health resources, that are at their disposal when needed, and completely confidential.