Supporting Mental Wellbeing in Today's World
Human beings are social animals. We are not designed – mentally or physically – to do life alone, and rarely does a solitary existence lead to our success or fulfilment.
We’re seeing our need for physical contact and hugs played out on the news currently, as we witness grandparents finally reunited with grandchildren after months of isolation. It’s a moving sight that blatantly communicates what we all know, and that is – we need each other!
What we can learn from Maslow
Supporting mental wellbeing takes careful planning
The vital role of mental health professionals
It’s no surprise that experts are forecasting a significant increase in mental health issues following the recent pandemic. In my opinion, prolonged isolation, such as the recent lockdown, is a fertile breeding ground for mental health problems, including those that are more serious.
This is something we all need to be aware of and looking out for, including business owners, as we move forward.
There are important steps that businesses can implement (more on creating an effective mental health strategy in a moment)… but from my own experience, I believe it is crucial to leave identifying and treating serious mental health problems to the professionals. And that the go-to specialists for any form of depression are the psychiatrists and psychologists.
(Seriously, I’ve seen a copy of the psychiatrist and psychologist’s bible on depression, the DSM-5, and it is huge!)
A bug-bear of mine is that GPs can dish out anti-depressants. They (as a generalisation and I really do mean this most respectfully) are a ‘jack of all trades.’ They know a little about a lot of things, and they do this well. But conditions like depression are delicate and need finesse in treating.
My experience with PTSD
Because of PTSD, I’ve had psychiatrists and psychologists by my side for over 15 years, and I know I would not be half so well as I am without them.
Scarily, I had PTSD for at least 18 months before anyone spotted it. Somehow I’d managed to keep soldiering on until it took its vicious toll on my life. Gradually everything was breaking down, and this led to me attempting suicide.
Sorry to be blunt, but this is so important. We need to realise how dangerous it can be to treat mental health issues on a ‘we think we know what is wrong’ basis. It can be fatal.
We need a proper diagnosis to know how to successfully treat the issues.
Supporting mental wellbeing in our places of work
Thankfully, most ‘mental issues’ are not so severe. (Of course, it feels awful to the person suffering but perhaps around 90% of issues can be easily dealt with.)
I see supporting employees’ mental health within organisations and companies as a must for employers.
But creating a mental health strategy does not need to be cumbersome. Companies can effectively support their staff by working in collaboration with people, such as counsellors, talking therapists, exercise consultants, dieticians, meditation experts… and the list goes on.
It is important to note that because we are all unique individuals, this is not a one-size-fits-all scenario. Different treatments will suit different individuals. So, having a range of services is preferable, as is having the pathways to support well-defined, accessible, and ideally free of charge.
Getting the balance right
Another aspect to consider as we move slowly out of lockdown and create a ‘new normal’ is this… Our success as a species came about by being social, collaborative, and by having great inter-communication skills.
It seems to me, the most practical and efficient way forward is to balance isolation and interaction in a type of hybrid set-up. Looking down the line, I see our future workplaces being a mix of working from home and working in a community space, such as the office.
Supporting employees’ mental wellbeing is essential to success
Combining a safe physical working environment with the sense of connection that comes from meeting up and working together would, I’m sure, make Abraham Maslow proud.
And it makes sense, doesn’t it? Having a happy and content workforce leads to a healthy and sustainable work environment for all.
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