Mental Health in a workplace is common… too common in fact. Whether it can be contributed by work or whether it be affecting the way you work. Common mental health disorder can usually be caused by stress, which can be contributed through different means. This can be through deadlines, work pressure or even trying to maintain your own well-being in a workplace.
More and more companies are branching out to help and support people in a workplace with mental health, whether that be in an office, a shop, a construction site and even working from home.
Creating a “safe space” at work can be highly beneficial, as it can let employees be at ease and makes discussions about mental health more accessible and comfortable.
In this post, we are so happy to have Vicky give us an insight to how she runs mental health workshops at Tate. She also provides an abundant of wonderful resources that are available with just a click!
If everyone took the initiative to be involved in supporting each other at work, not only work will become efficient, an individual’s quality of life can be better.
Mental Health In A Workplace By Victoria Karlsson
I work as a Retail Administrator at Tate Modern, and I am also part of the department’s Diversity champion network, and as part of that I run a quarterly mental health in the workplace workshop. As a workplace, I feel Tate takes mental health seriously, and wants to create an environment which is supportive for the people working there.
Yet we rarely talk about mental health – often it is the opposite, like it is something we should not mention, or it is seen as something that is insensitive to discuss openly. This is the main reason I started the workshop – to create a space where we could talk openly about mental health.
The workshop changes and evolves every time we do it, to keep it relevant – however, there are a few aspects that always remain, in one form or other.
Sharing Our Stories
One of the key points of the workshop is that it is a space to be honest and open about mental health. There are usually 2 of us leading the workshop, and we start by sharing something about our mental health. Something that happened at work that affected your mental health, if you are living with a long term mental health condition – it can be anything.
We do this because we feel it is important to normalise talking about our mental health, just like we talk about our physical health. It can be a very challenging thing to, especially as there is still stigma surrounding mental health. So, even if we encourage people to be open and honest about their experiences, it is not something we would ever expect from the participants.
Being honest about our own experiences is a powerful way of getting the conversation started about mental health, and also, I believe, beneficial for our own mental health in the long run.
Everyone Has A Mental Health
This point is also important – talking about mental health is not just talking about mental illness. We all have a mental health, and we will at some point in life struggle with it. This means that we all need to look after our mental health, just like we look after our physical health.
It also means that we can have a conversation about mental health where everyone can take part – and so remove some of the stigma and pressure of people with mental ill health.
Self-Care And What That Means
Self-care often gets a bit of a bad reputation these days – but actual self-care is not really about bubble bath and candles (although it can be that too!). At its core, self-care is about looking after your emotional and mental health – just like you look after your physical health by eating well, or going to the gym…
Self-care will be different for different people. For some, it will be going for a run or doing yoga, for others it will be taking some time off social media, for some its watching cat videos (OK OK that’s me – I can’t help it I love them). In difficult situations, self-care can be about eating, drinking and brushing your teeth.
The important thing about having an open discussion about mental health, and self-care, is that we will have to start thinking about what self care is for us. What makes us feel good, what relaxes and recharges us, mentally and emotionally?
Secondly, once we have figured that out – we need to start making time for it. We often feel like self care is at the bottom of our list, after all the other stuff we need to do first – work, friends, family, cleaning, cooking dinner…. The thing is though, if we make some time to look after ourselves – however that looks for us – we will be able to do MORE of all the other things.
How We Can Support Others
We always try to finish the workshop by getting everyone to think of one thing they can do for someone else to encourage self care and good mental health. I feel it is important as we all need to support each other, and the smallest act of kindness can mean so much for someone else
Working From Home/Freelancing And Mental Health
Of course, working from home or freelancing creates its own difficulties and challenges in looking after your mental health. Perhaps the above points can be used as a blueprint for starting to think about mental health, even though you might not have colleagues to start conversations with.
- If you are able to (and it’s OK if not) be honest to yourself and others about your mental health. If that’s not possible, I find it really helpful to seek out and listen to people who do talk openly about mental health. You can learn a lot, and it can make you feel more confident in speaking about your own mental health.
- Your mental well-being is important!
- Make some time for self-care. Figure out what it means to you, what you need to stay happy and healthy, and then make time to do that now and then.
- Be kind – to others, but also to yourself! Would you talk to a friend like you talk to yourself?