World Mental Health Day is on 10th October, the theme this year is 'Mental Health in an Unequal World'.
As the World Health Organisation states “The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on people’s mental health. Some groups, including health and other frontline workers, students, people living alone, and those with pre-existing mental health conditions, have been particularly affected.”
World Mental Health Day presents an opportunity for us all to make a difference in bringing equality to mental health care and support. Individuals, communities, and workplaces all have their part to play.
One of the positives of the pandemic is how it has advanced the mental health conversation and agenda in the workplace and wider society. We need to keep this conversation going and all take action to make a difference.
Mental Health UK is running a campaign with ITN “Forward Together for Mental Health” Asking us all to do something for mental health, however small. Their questions are simple:
What’s the world you want to see?
What’s the unique contribution you can make to turn that world into a reality?
It is an invitation to make a positive impact with your friends, colleagues, community, or workplace. You can check out their programme with ITN on 10th October.
Remember though in order to support others and make a contribution to the world you need to look after your own mental health and lead by example by prioritising your wellbeing.
Action for Happiness “Great Dream” are researched steps to lead a happier and more fulfilling life. Which areas could you focus on now?
How can workplaces get involved in world mental health day?
The stigma around mental health can make it more difficult for those experiencing difficulties to seek help, workplaces have a huge role to play in breaking down stigma and discrimination.
The starting point for this is normalising the conversation around mental health. You could organise a Tea and Talk, which is all about encouraging conversation and increasing openness. Full resources and planning guide here from Mental Health Foundation who know Tea helps every chat!
Start meetings with a wellbeing check-in, asking everyone to share how they are feeling at that moment and ban the descriptor, ‘I’m fine’. The role of the team is to listen, not offer solutions.
Focus on what we can all do to support our mental health in the workplace. Including taking lunch breaks, getting outside, drinking water, sharing and connecting. You could run activities or share information around wellbeing.
Show recognition- acknowledge how tough the last 18 months have been for many and show gratitude for people’s contributions. When we feel valued at work it positively impacts our mental wellbeing. Whether it’s praising a colleague’s hard work on a recent project or thanking them for just being them, highlighting their contributions spreads a little joy.
Consider mental health awareness or mental health first aid training. This not only enables individuals to support themselves and others it is also a statement of intent that your organisation prioritises mental health.
Whatever you chose to do for world mental health day by prioritising mental health and wellbeing you are making a difference in breaking down inequalities and driving the mental health conversation.
We can break down stigma and discrimination one conversation at a time. We never know when that conversation could save a life or make a real difference to someone.