“The deepest pain I ever felt was denying my own feelings to make everyone else comfortable.”
Today is World Mental Health Day and the theme for this year is Mental health in the workplace.
It is so important for those who are living with mental illness work in environments that are supportive and conducive to their well being and productivity. We spent more time with our co-workers during the week than we do with our families so it helps when employers and managers put initiatives in place that would promote mental health. A negative working environment can lead to physical and mental health problems, drive people to abuse substances, alcohol, skip work or perform their jobs poorly.
A friend of mine was working in a negative environment which may have contributed to her relapse. The last time I saw her, it was obvious that she was not taking her medication. She suffered from bipolar disorder. She had personal issues as well which could have also been a contributing factor. Another woman who used to work in the same department also suffered from mental illness.
You can look at people and not know that they have mental illness until something happens and they have a breakdown. We can’t tell who is living with depression, anxiety disorders or other mental issues. There is still a stigma attached to mental health and those suffering with it may not feel comfortable disclosing their struggles. The platform for them to do so may not be there. This is why World Health Day is observed on October 10 every year to raise awareness and mobilize efforts in support of better mental health.
What can you do to support mental health in your workplace? The Mental Health Foundation offers helpful tips for those who have mental illness and for those who work with them.
1. Talk about your feelings
2. Keep active
3. Eat well
4. Drink sensibly
5. Keep in touch
6. Ask for help
7. Take a break
8. Do something you’re good at
9. Accept who you are
10. Care for others
You can support a colleague by:
- Asking the person how they are doing. Be warm and sincere.
- Setting a time and place that is most comfortable for the person.
- Active listening. Give your undivided attention.
- Managing your own feelings. You want the person to feel that they can talk to you about anything without fear of judgment.
If your co-worker says that he or she is having suicidal thoughts or you suspect that they are thinking of committing suicide, it is very important that you encourage the person to get help.
You can keep in touch with co-worker who has been away from work by calling or sending cards. When they return, you could help them to get back into their work routine. For the co-worker who you see on a day to day basis, you can check up on them informally and find out how they are doing. You can offer to help them as a mentor or coach or friendly support on an ongoing basis. You could ask them if there is any way you can support them as they manage their condition such as spotting signs that they may have missed which indicate that they are becoming unwell.
My sister suffers from bipolar disorder. I will never forget the time when she was having a breakdown and she just clung to me. I held onto her. It was heartbreaking. Mental illness affects not only those who have it but those around them. We have to be there to offer them our love, support and whatever they may need. We have to be sensitive to what they are going through.
“We feel alone because due to the illness we have lost loved ones, families, friends, jobs, and it has created broken hearts & shattered dreams. We feel extremely unwanted for something we didn’t ask for and trying so hard to cope with. Believe us, if we could snap our fingers and make it disappear, it would be a wish come true. But that only happens in fairy tales.”
“Those who suffer from mental illness are stronger than you think. We must fight to go work, care for our families, be there for our friends, and act ‘normal’ while battling unimaginable pain.”
“Ignore those who say just get over it. Healing is a process.”
“The only thing more exhausting than having a mental illness is pretending like you don’t.”
“You keep a lot to yourself because it’s difficult to find people who understand.”
“This disease comes with a package: shame. When any other part of your body gets sick, you get sympathy.”
“The strongest people are not those who show strength in front of the world but those who fight and win battles that others do not know anything about.”
Quotes on Mental Health Stigma by Healthy Place
Sources: World Mental Health Organization; Mental Health Foundation; Healthy Place;