World Mental Health Day 2021: Let’s talk about Mental Health

Written by Hannah Barron, HR Manager at Itec

Most of us know the importance of looking after our mental health, especially with the challenges that 2020 and 2021 have brought to us all. It has become essential, even with a lot going on around us, to prioritise our mental health and wellbeing.

During the lockdowns, many of us have felt isolated, which has taken its toll on our mental health. A lack of interaction with friends, family and colleagues, combined with the inability to adhere to a set routine, has led to a doubling of depression rates, according to the Office for National Statistics. 

It is possible to improve our mental health with simple daily habits. Getting outdoors and embracing nature are great ways to connect with ourselves. Getting into shape releases endorphins, which have been shown to boost our moods and relieve stress. You will find that talking about any challenges you may be facing, whether with family, friends, colleagues, or specialist support, has a very positive effect, and you may be able to put plans and coping mechanisms in place.

There are many benefits to empowering good mental health in the workplace, and not just for the individual employee but also for the business. Workplaces that empower good mental health are more likely to see employees take pride in their work, which can lead to an improvement in performance.

I am proud to work alongside my colleagues and for an organisation that supports an open dialogue and culture around mental health, enabling colleagues to support each other and talk about their mental health and wellbeing.

As a Disability Confident Leader, we can provide support to other employers to sign up to the standard at all 3 levels. We actively encourage employers and organisations we work with to sign up to the framework to support good practice.  For more information about the Disability Confident Campaign, please visit the government’s website.

My recommended 10 top tips for looking after your mental health, that have been developed by the Mental Health Foundation,  are to:

  1. Talk about your feelings. Talking about your feelings can help you stay in good mental health and deal with times when you feel troubled
  2. Keep active. Regular exercise can boost your self-esteem and can help you concentrate, sleep, and feel better. Exercise keeps the brain and your other vital organs healthy and is also a significant benefit towards improving your mental health.
  3. Eat well. Your brain needs a mix of nutrients in order to stay healthy and function well, just like the other organs in your body. A diet that’s good for your physical health is also good for your mental health
  4. Drink sensibly. We often drink alcohol to change our mood. Some people drink to deal with fear or loneliness, but the effect is only temporary. When the drink wears off, you feel worse because of the way the alcohol has affected your brain and the rest of your body. Drinking is not a good way to manage difficult feelings.
  5. Keep in touch. There’s nothing better than catching up with someone face to face, but that’s not always possible. You can also give them a call, drop them a note, or chat to them online instead. Keep the lines of communication open: it’s good for you!
  6. Ask for help. None of us are superhuman. We all sometimes get tired or overwhelmed by how we feel or when things don’t go to plan. If things are getting too much for you and you feel you can’t cope, ask for help. Your family or friends may be able to offer practical help or a listening ear.
  7. Take a break. A change of scene or a change of pace is good for your mental health. It could be a five-minute pause from cleaning your kitchen, a half-hour lunch break at work, or a weekend exploring somewhere new. A few minutes can be enough to de-stress you. Give yourself some ‘me time’.
  8. Do something you’re good at. Enjoying yourself can help beat stress. Doing an activity, you enjoy probably means you’re good at it, and achieving something boosts your self-esteem
  9. Accept who you are. We’re all different. It’s much healthier to accept that you’re unique than to wish you were more like someone else. Feeling good about yourself boosts your confidence to learn new skills, visit new places and make new friends. Good self-esteem helps you cope when life takes a difficult turn
  10. Caring for others. Is often an important part of keeping up relationships with people close to you. It can even bring you closer together.