The goal of this year’s World Mental Health Day is to ‘make mental health and wellbeing for all a global priority’.
The impact and experience of the COVID-19 pandemic shone a spotlight on mental health and how important our mental wellbeing is, especially during times of turmoil.
Mental health problems exist in our lives, families, workplaces, and communities – indeed, mental health issues do not discriminate.
Here at Word Monster, we live a life-first culture, and – you guessed it – this philosophy extends to our mental wellbeing. So, how can we promote mental wellbeing in the workplace? I’m glad you asked. Let’s talk!
Let’s be open
Being open can be difficult, unless you’re a chronic over-sharer like me… Us monsters, we are all different. Those struggling with their mental wellbeing may find it difficult to be open, especially in the workplace. This can be due to fear of embarrassment, judgement, or critique. So how do we overcome this? Let’s normalise talking about the ‘hard stuff’. Just as we are comfortable talking about the time we broke our arm, or catching another cold from your children’s nursery, let’s make talking about mental wellbeing the norm. Hey, if Ryan Reynolds can broadcast his own colonoscopy to spread awareness about colorectal cancer, we can be open about our mental wellbeing! By sharing our own experiences, we can spread understanding and awareness of mental wellbeing throughout the workplace. You never know, your story may help a fellow monster feel seen, heard, and understood. Stigma? She doesn’t even go here!
Let’s be supportive
Establishing support networks can be hugely beneficial to your mental wellbeing, especially in the workplace. Family and friends are who we think of as our main support network, but what about work colleagues? What about your line manager? ‘How unprofessional,’ I hear you gasp! The notion that you should ‘leave your problems at the door’ has never sat right with me. During times of stress or difficulty, whether it be life- or work-related, finding support within the workplace can promote mental wellbeing and productivity. It’s a win-win!
Let’s check in
Overwhelmed by your workload? Is your work-life balance suffering? We can be so focused on our work that we are not as motivated to give ourselves the same attention. So, check in, not just with others but with yourself. Sometimes, we must be ‘selfish’ to help ourselves and improve our mental wellbeing – and that’s OK! It is important to check in with yourself daily and take time out of your day to do something that brings you joy. How many times has a work colleague asked, ‘how are you?’ and you have the same response: ‘I’m fine’? Be honest, if not with them then with yourself. It’s okay not to be okay.
Here are some things our monsters said perk up their workday:
“My window is behind me, so I make sure I take time away from my screen to look out into the garden every now and then”
“I remind myself that I’m not a regulatory writer (only joking – MUSIC is the answer. Have a sensual playlist)”
“I’m a sucker for fidget toys; they help me to focus when I’m stuck in an ADHD spiral”
“I do sometimes factor in 5-minute dance breaks when I’m working on a particularly dry project”
“[It’s] music for me, and chasing my daughter around the flat. Also, I’ll occasionally play a game of chess”
“I take lots of pet breaks!”
“I start my day with guided meditation from headspace and I go for lunchtime runs to the beach. And I listen to music non-stop!”
Let’s be the change
Promoting mental wellbeing starts with us. Those of us who have experienced ‘wobbles’ in our mental wellbeing or know of someone who has struggled should have their voices heard. If we want people to stand with us, we must stand for ourselves. Ask yourself, ‘how can I promote mental wellbeing in my workplace?’ Find your own way of promoting mental health awareness. It could be through sharing your own experiences, campaigning and fundraising, being approachable to those who need support or even starting a conversation on the importance of mental wellbeing. A huge amount of time, energy and focus is put towards work every day. At Word Monster, we promote flexible, remote working because the mental wellbeing of our monsters is fundamental. We are the change.
Unfortunately, I end this blog post on a rather sombre note. It’s critical that we take mental wellbeing seriously, as safely reflected in data. Returning to this year’s goal, let us remember the gravity of mental wellbeing – not just in the workplace – but globally. In the UK alone, 6,248 people lost their lives to suicide in 2020.
‘Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem’. Let’s be open, let’s be supportive, let’s check in and let’s be the change. Let’s remember why mental wellbeing is so important.
Mental Health Foundation. World Mental Health Day. 2022. Available at: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/our-work/public-engagement/world-mental-health-day [Accessed September 2022].
The Female Scientist. The Importance of Mental Health in STEM. 2018. Available at: https://thefemalescientist.com/guide/megan-sharrock-1/1989/the-importance-of-mental-health-awareness-in-stem/ [Accessed September 2022].
Mental Health America. The Mental Health Benefits of Remote and Flexible Work. 2022. Available at: https://mhanational.org/blog/mental-health-benefits-remote-and-flexible-work [Accessed September 2022].
Mental Health Foundation. Suicide: statistics. 2020. Available at: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/explore-mental-health/mental-health-statistics/suicide-statistics [Accessed September 2022].