The theme of World Mental Health Day this year was "Making Mental Health & Well-Being for All a Global Priority". That can feel somehow disconnected from us as individuals - something for governments, strategists, or health professionals. But we have all mental health, we all need to prioritise how to support our own and reach out to others. So how can we all make an impact on world mental health day and beyond?
Below are our top 10 ways we can begin to make a difference. When we talk about MH being a global priority for all don’t forget that starts with you, so our top 10 ways start with looking after yourself, then others, and finally a focus on the workplace.
Top 10 ways
1. Be the change you want to see – we need to prioritise our self care first, we cannot be there for others if we are not caring for ourselves. We need to lead by example- do you want your children to look after their wellbeing? If you never prioritise yourself, how will they see this in action? Your words and deeds need to match.
2. Self Compassion - do you ever listen to the words you say to yourself, they can often be harsh and cruel, would you speak to someone else that way? Notice when you are self-critical, what could you say instead - “well done, you did your best, it’s ok not to be perfect” start to challenge the inner critic with a kinder narrative.
3. Support network – who are the people you can reach out to, who is your listener, who brings you joy, who holds you up, who stretches you? It might feel hard to think of people like this in your life, if so, could that be because you never ask for support, or are always seen as ok? Or could you work on improving, and expanding relationships?
4. Noticing – we often spend lots of our lives caught in busyness and maybe we don’t stop and really notice those around us. Is there a friend, family member, or colleague that has stopped messaging or attending social gatherings, has something changed? It may be nothing but unless we notice and reach out we will never know.
5. Reaching out – be the person that asks, “how are you” maybe include” I’ve noticed that you have been quieter lately, is everything ok?” give people permission not to be ok, talking is the key to change. You could suggest a walk with a friend, small regular conversations help. We do not need to have all the answers or “fix” people just be a listening ear.
6. Self care buddies – talking is the start but next comes self care. Regular activities that are good for our wellbeing, exercise, arts, hobbies, gardening, singing- it's different for us all. It can be hard to do if you are struggling, could you be a self care buddy? Doing an activity together or starting a WhatsApp group to help motivate and encourage each other.
7. Workplace Awareness – we need to build awareness that we all struggle at times and it is ok not to be ok. It will take to time to change workplace cultures and individual mindsets. Start by drip feeding, making it visible- Posters in an office, on a toilet door, screen savers or zoom backgrounds, email footers, pop-ups on the intranet, etc all start to bring MH into the conscious mind. Share support available in your workplace e.g. EAP, and ask people their opinions on what else would help.
8. Connecting – Conversations and sharing stories are key. Could someone in your workplace share their struggles, especially if this is a senior person it makes a real difference to others feeling that they can share. Starting meetings or catch-ups with wellbeing check-in, normalise these conversations. An event such as a Tea and Talk is a great way to fundraise and discuss mental health.
9. Wellbeing Strategies- bring all the strands of MH & wellbeing together, help to drive change, show a commitment to wellbeing and lead to actionable steps. Alongside this is training for all staff, especially managers to enable them to know how to support others. You can also link workshops to various awareness days- e.g session on stress in April, linked to stress awareness month.
10. Break down Stigma - We all have mental health- just as we all have physical health and we all need to prioritise looking after it. Just that statement can start to break down stigma and change the conversation. How in and out of the workplace can you practice this?
Small steps – to make big changes
The level of MH challenges around us can feel overwhelming but every change starts with a small step and you never know the impact you can make.