Understanding and Addressing Work-Related Mental Health Issues

06 November 2019

Everybody has bad days, weeks, or even months. We all get worried about the future, stressed about the present, or upset about the past. Part of the human experience is going through the ups and downs of life and learning from them. Most of the time these feelings do pass, but sometimes they can persist and develop into a mental health issue, affecting your general outlook on life.

The fact is that most people do suffer from some form of mental health issue in their life. From an economics perspective, research undertaken by the Mental Health Foundation found that 12.5% of UK’s GDP is produced by employees who are dealing with a mental health issue. With such a huge percentage of the workforce affected, it is important to discuss some strategies that can help you to prevent, recognise and address mental health issues.

Recognising a mental health issue:

It can be difficult to distinguish a mental health issue from periodic unhappiness, but according to the Mental Health Society, in general, you should seek help from a GP if you have difficult feelings that are:

  • Stopping you from getting on with life
  • Having a big impact on the people you live or work with
  • Affecting your mood over several weeks
  • Causing you to have thoughts of suicide

 

On a behavioural level, signs of mental health issues could be that you or a colleague are making uncharacteristic mistakes, feeling or looking very tired all the time, lacking motivation, feeling unable to make decisions quickly or at all, or have begun to seek isolation. Understanding the signs can prepare you to know when to assist a colleague, or to seek help yourself.

Helping to prevent an issue:

There are many behaviours that are self-reinforcing and can help your mental health stay on track, or help you to start to feel like yourself again. Some of the key behaviours suggested by the Mental Health Society are to:

  • Talk about your feelings to a close friend or colleague
  • Keep active
  • Eat healthy, and eat enough
  • Drink responsibly
  • Keep in touch with friends and family
  • Take a break if needed
  • Accept yourself

 

How to help someone with an issue:

Talking about mental health can seem difficult, but helping someone in need in the right way could be more beneficial than you may realise. You can start the conversation by asking how they are in a warm and authentic way, allowing them to realise you are being sincere. Be conscious of the time and place you start the conversation and ensure you have at least 10 minutes available with them. During the conversation, make sure you actively listen, ask relevant but not probing questions, and refrain from giving unsolicited advice. Lastly, manage your own feelings. Don’t show signs of judgment, and make sure they know you are here to listen now and in the future.

We know that the legal profession is demanding and stressful. We hope that you stay healthy physically and mentally, and have the support and tools to help yourself and others.

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