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How’s Your Health?

Mental health matters

Have you ever had someone say to you “I had a breakdown”, and not known how to cope with or reply to this piece of information? Maybe you’ve had one yourself. How do, or did, you express the feeling of being in that place to those around you, some of who, no doubt, cared passionately, others of whom said nothing but did everything but shuffle their feet and look away? It’s the great taboo, isn’t it, mental health, not least because we really can’t see it…come to that, we can’t even define it, even, perhaps, when we realise it’s something we’re having to deal with.

Of course, the phrase itself carries more, and less, meaning than it’s easy to get one’s head around. I have mental health, so do you. I don’t think about it from one year to the next, I may never think about my mental health but I definitely have it. It’s the degree to which any of us have mental ill-health that we should concern ourselves with. But then, not being aware of our mental health, what does mental ill-health look like? And that’s the nub of the question, how do we recognise or indeed measure something that we don’t really know how to compare with something else?

One potential answer to this is that it’s only when one’s mood changes that there’s recognition of one’s mental health at all, but experience of working for decades in different business environments has taught that most people tend to over-blame changes in their life circumstances for changes in their ability to cope with those changes. That’s a lot of changes, but there’s an important point here. The state of a person’s mental health, or ill-health, is very often a reflection of their mental resilience. The more resilience, the less one is swayed by life’s changes. That resilience, in turn, will be determined by how grounded that person is. Those who are absolutely certain of their identity, of who they are, will be those with resilience, able to confront what life throws at them head on.

You may be wondering why this is relevant to a business blog. Allow us to share with you an excerpt from the UK Mental site:

“More than 4 in 10 people say they have experienced depression. Nearly two-thirds of people say that they have experienced a mental health problem. This rises to 7 in every 10 women, young adults aged 18-34 and people living alone. Over a quarter of people say they have experienced panic attacks. Only 13% of people claim to have good mental health.”

And that was in 2017. It’s almost inevitable that you’ll have seen a headline recently announcing that the UK is now either facing or in the throes of a mental health crisis, and equally inevitable that we’ll know, or employ someone facing this challenge. How are we to respond? Here’s another quote, this time taken from the blurb advertising a recent Mental Health business briefing:

“Now is the time to put the heart back into business, in a strategic and fundamental way. We need to become people-invested growth organisations; people are not a commodity but are the capital. We need to re-examine our own values and whether these align with our professional and personal partners in order to overcome stress and anxiety and encourage better mental health for all.

With an understanding of our core values, these can be translated into business values and aligned with our stakeholders, employers, employees, investors and the wider community – and built into a company’s purpose: the reason that we all get up in the morning.”

You can find this seminar here and, in case you’re wondering, October 10th was Global Mental Health Day.

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