World Mental Health Day falls on 10th October every year and this year we’ve decided to bring awareness to this important topic by asking our team three questions about mental health.
What is mental health to you?
Rich: The ability to cope emotionally with stressful and non-stressful day-to-day life.
Joao: Not having internal conflicts feeling relaxed and at ease.
Simon: Mental health is something that we need to look after just as much as our physical health. If we don’t keep track of our mental health, we can let things build up and that’s when we run into real trouble.
Sam: Mental health is being conscious of feelings, reactions and thoughts, and having the awareness to understand, ease and feel comfortable with them. It is having the ability to come back to a mindful equilibrium.
Sophie: The understanding and wellbeing of someone’s mental state.
Briefly, what has been your experience when it comes to mental health?
Rich: Today, my mental health has never been better, but 4-5 years ago I was diagnosed with anxiety, depression and borderline personality disorder. My manager terminated my employment contract as he didn’t believe depression was real. It was a tough period, and I’m sharing this to highlight how crucial it is to promote mental health education, particularly in the workplace.
Nicki: With an ever-growing list of diagnoses, Borderline Personality Disorder being right at the top, I constantly struggle with my mental health but am always very proactive to look after it and to educate as many people as possible about it. It became much more manageable once I realised that it was indeed an illness and not who I am as a person.
Simon: I have faced depression and anxiety, and know how hard it can be to talk about these things and work through them. Recently, I trained as a mental health first aider, and learnt so much about the different types of mental health challenges people face, and what we can do to help. That was a really positive experience, and reinforced to me how important it is that we acknowledge this (often invisible) part of our health and do what we can to help others.
Sam: Before I understood my mental health, I had prolonged periods of anxiety which affected many aspects of my life. I tried to ignore it at the time, but that made it worse. CBT and talking about the issue with my family, friends and colleagues was the only way I was eventually able to help myself.
Miriam: My mental health used to take some huge swings when I was younger and I went through some pretty horrible extended periods of deep depression but have found that a combination of lots of self-care (eating right, doing exercise, therapy, lower alcohol consumption), an amazing support network and a job I love keeps me feeling super resilient.
Sophie: I have experienced social anxiety and have this bad habit of letting my thoughts be accepted as truth, which is dangerous - particularly when they are sometimes negative. I have become more aware of this and have improved my ability to combat these through life coaching.
Mike J: Fortunately I’ve not struggled with any mental health personally. But my wife has struggled with significant anxiety and panic attacks and coming around to try and understand and empathise what she was going through and how I could best support her was difficult.
Steve: I have a diagnosis of OCD, which can lead to episodes of anxiety and depression. In short, it takes me a long time to recover from a worrying thought - and I can obsess about it. At its most trivial it’s things like having left a tap running or a door unlocked, but I have the same pattern over bigger life events too and they’re the ones that are hardest to work through.
Claire: My own mental health is always a work in progress, I am lucky enough to never have suffered from mental illness, but it something I am always actively looking to be aware of and take care of!
What can a company can do to support team members with their mental health?
Rich: Treat mental and physical health as equals.
Nicki: Creating a wellness plan is an excellent way to support team members with their mental health. The plans can cover what helps a person stay mentally healthy at work, how their manager can support them to stay mentally healthy, a list of triggers which can exacerbate any mental health conditions, how these triggers can affect the person at work and what steps the person and their managers can take if they notice they’re starting to feel unwell at work.
Simon: It’s a cliché, but just being aware of mental health and acknowledging its importance is a huge step. The best approach is to remember that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to mental health at work, and each person will have different needs and coping mechanisms to help them to stay well.
Sam: Create a safe workplace to encourage all to be honest, speak up and share.
Miriam: Running workshops on mindfulness and different tools you can use to practice some self-care can help.
Sophie: Promote a healthy working lifestyle and perhaps have people who feel more comfortable sharing their experiences, share these with their colleagues as it is likely that many will resonate and may feel empowered to speak up and seek support if they need it.
Mike J: It is important for a company to genuinely care about employees’ mental health and not just give it lip service which can sometimes mean difficult decisions and balancing commercial need against health.
Steve: Creating an accepting culture and an environment where an individual feels comfortable to talk about poor mental health if they’d like to. I think it’s important not only to provide support to team members who may be working through a period of poor mental health, but also to help everyone to maintain good mental health.
Claire: The best way a company can support team members mental health is acknowledging that each employee is an individual and has different needs.
At Snowplow, we do all we can to support our team with their mental health. We’ve run multiple sessions on mental health, provide team members with personalised wellness plans and we very much encourage each other to speak openly about how we’re feeling.
Snowplow is dedicated to building a workplace where people feel happy and safe at work. If you’d like to know more about what it’s like to work here, take a look at our careers page.