A Thought Piece by Heather Rowe 3 July 2017

How often have you been asked this very simple question and brushed it aside with a quick ‘I’m fine’, or asked the question to someone else but not actually stuck around to hear the answer?

Unfortunately for more people than ever this simple question no longer has a simple answer, and often this is directly to do with stress.

What causes stress?

The state of our mental health is determined by our frame of reference, or put another way, the way we view the world, as well as our resilience and ability to handle life’s setbacks.

I’ve always been a worrier, but by understanding my frame of reference I’ve been able to develop my own ways of coping with stress. We encounter problems when these ‘stressors’ start impacting on our personal lives and consequently our mental health.

How can we help ourselves and those around us?

I listened with admiration to Prince Harry who opened up recently about his own struggles with mental health.  This is a really positive first step, and Harry proves that just about anybody can experience mental health issues.

In order to get better at recognising our stressors a strong network is needed. Many of us have friends and family, but opening up and admitting our struggles to those we love can be hard. Talking about mental health to someone needing support can seem daunting too as we may be scared about saying the wrong thing. It may sound like cliché, but there is no right or wrong thing to say. In fact sometimes you don’t have to say anything! Your reaction is more important.

Remember you aren’t Dr Phil, so you don’t need to launch into giving a diagnosis! Your role is to listen and to reassure. You can then provide support by encouraging that person to get help and build the support network they need.

Stigma?

It is important that we all realise that there is help available and we are not alone.  A common reason for not disclosing or talking about mental health is the associated stigma.

According to research by the Mental Health Foundation nine out of ten people with mental health problems said that stigma and discrimination have negatively affected their lives.  This is shocking, but when we hear that 56% of people (in a survey by Unum) said that they would not hire someone suffering from depression, even if they were the best candidate for the job, it is perhaps easy to understand why.

It is time that we really begun addressing mental health and working hard to support one another. Mental health is rising fast up the agenda.  By 2030 the Mental Health Foundation estimate that there will be approximately 2,000,000 more adults in the UK with mental health problems than there were in 2013.

It is my duty not just as a HR professional, but as a mental health first aider to support those experiencing mental health issues and support them as they move towards recovery. If you need my support you can contact me directly by clicking here. Thanks for reading!