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What is Mental Health?

Mental Health…..

Did you know 1 in 4 people suffer a mental health problem per year.

70 million days are lost from work per year due to mental health!

Mental health absence costs employers £35 billion per year!

Mental health is something we all need to take into consideration when thinking about Health and safety at work, Mental health is an increasing problem within the workplace.

What is mental health?

Mental health is our emotional, psychological and social wellbeing. It influences how we –  think, feel and act, it has an impact on how we deal with stress, how we are in relationship with others and how we make choices.

Mental health is important at every stage of our lives from childhood right through to adulthood.

There are many aspects which could contribute to someone experiencing mental health problems. Life experiences i.e Trauma or abuse, Family history of mental health problems, Biological factors.

Mental health problems are common and help is available. Many people suffering with a mental health problem will get better with the right help.

There are many mental health problems many of them display similar symptoms. You may also have one or more mental health problems at one time as some are very closely linked. Everyone’s experience of a mental health problem can also be different, not everyone will have the same signs and symptoms.

What types are there?

Depression –  this is a feeling of low mood that lasts for a long time and has an effect on your daily life. It can make you feel hopeless, unmotivated, exhausted and can affect your self esteem, sleep, appetite and physical health.

If depression is mild it won’t prevent you from living a normal life things will just feel harder to manage than they did before and things may seem less worthwhile. If depression is severe it can make you feel suicidal and be threatening to life.

Anxiety –  this is when we feel worried, on edge or afraid that bad things are going to happen.  Anxiety helps us in certain situations and is a normal experience in the short term, however if the feeling last a long time and feels overwhelming or has physical symptoms attached to it such as panic attacks or lack of sleep then your anxiety will need to addressed.

Phobias –  this is an extreme fear or anxiety that is triggered by a particular situation i.e going outside or an object such as spiders, even when it is very unlikely that the situation or the object be of any danger to us. It becomes a phobia when the fear is out of proportion to the risk of danger to us.

Eating problems –  Eating problems are not just about the food we eat, it can be about things we find difficult to deal with and this has an impact on our eating habits. The most common eating disorders are Anorexia and bulimia.

Schizophrenia –  this can be several mental health problems that overlap or experience symptoms such as psychosis, disorganized thinking and speech, feeling disconnected with your feelings, avoiding people, not wanting to look after yourself.

Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) –  this is a type of anxiety disorder it has two parts to it obsessions which contain unwelcome thoughts, images, worries or doubts that repeatedly appear in your mind and compulsions this is repetitive activities you feel you have to do to reduce the anxiety caused by the obsession i.e hand washing

Personality disorders –  these disorders cause you long standing health problems that affect how you think, behave and perceive life.

Bipolar disorder –  this disorder affects mainly your mood, you have times of feeling very high and other times of feeling very low with some psychotic symptoms experienced too.

Worried about yours or someone else’s mental health? Do you know the warning signs?

  • Temper
  • Tension
  • worry
  • frustration
  • overwhelmed
  • lonliness
  • low mood
  • scared
  • insomnia
  • agitation
  • despair
  • fear
  • withdrawal
  • fatigue

An employer will have at some point an employee/s with mental health difficulties. You will need to talk to them to become aware of their needs. If however they would rather not discuss their mental health condition with you, you will need to offer an alternative person for them to speak to. Early intervention can get them the right help they require preventing them becoming more unwell.

If adjustments to their role is needed then this is something that should be reasonably put in place, guidance can be sought from their healthcare provider.

In some cases some employees that are experiencing mental health difficulties can have a crisis time this can include –

  • high levels of anxiety
  • psychosis
  • loss of touch with reality
  • hallucinations and distortion of their senses.

In such situations you will need to stay calm, take the employee where possible to a quiet area. A family member of friend should be contacted, if however the person is hallucinating, suffering mania or is at risk to self or others then their GP or 111 should be contacted.

Here are some useful mental health websites:

HSE Website Mental health –  http://www.hse.gov.uk/stress/mental-health.htm

NHS choices – www.nhs.uk/livewell/mentalhealth

Mind – www.mind.org.uk

Samaritans – www.samaritans.org

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