From Burnout to Breakthrough: Why Supporting Employee Mental Health Matters.

Mental health is an essential part of an individual’s overall well-being, yet it remains one of the most neglected areas of health care. In recent years, there has been an increased awareness of mental health and the impact it has on individuals in the workplace. However, despite the progress that has been made, there is still much work to be done.

For many people, discussing mental health in the workplace can be difficult due to the stigma that still surrounds the subject of mental illness. Managers and leaders need to play a crucial role in creating an environment where employees feel comfortable discussing their mental health and seeking support. But even those who do understand about mental health in the workplace may still prioritise the needs of the business over the needs of their employees. This attitude and view towards mental health can have a detrimental effect on employees, leading to increased stress levels, decreased job satisfaction, and decreased productivity.

In this article, I’m going to write about why it’s essential for managers and other leaders in the workplace to change their attitudes and views on mental health, the benefits of prioritising mental health, the consequences of ignoring it, and practical steps that can be taken to create a culture of support and compassion for employees.

“Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.” — Brené Brown

As someone who has struggled with mental health issues in the workplace, I understand first-hand the impact it can have on your overall well-being. The workplace can be a stressful and demanding environment, which can lead to burnout, anxiety, and other mental health issues. It’s important to recognise that your mental health is just as important as your physical health, and taking care of your mental well-being should always be a top priority.

What do I mean about mental health in the workplace? Well, I am referring to an individual’s psychological well-being, which includes their ability to manage stress, maintain positive relationships with colleagues, and perform daily tasks efficiently. Unfortunately, mental health issues can arise due to several factors, such as an overwhelming workload, a negative workplace culture, a lack of support, or an imbalance between their work and personal life.

It’s important to acknowledge that medication and therapy are not silver bullets when it comes to mental health issues. While they can be incredibly helpful tools in managing symptoms, they are not cures in and of themselves.

In my own experience, therapy and medication have been essential in helping me manage my anxiety, OCD, and panic disorder. They’ve given me the tools and skills to recognise my triggers, manage my symptoms, and work through the underlying issues that contribute to my mental health struggles. But they haven’t “cured” me – I still have bad days, and I still have to actively work to keep my mental health in check.

And yet, despite the fact that mental health issues are incredibly common and can have a profound impact on our ability to work and function in daily life, there is still a stigma around seeking help. In many workplaces, mental health is still viewed as a weakness, something to be ashamed of and hidden away. Employees who struggle with mental health issues may be seen as less reliable or less capable, or may be passed over for promotions or opportunities.

This attitude is not only harmful to individual employees, but it’s also detrimental to the business as a whole. When employees are struggling with mental health issues, their productivity and job satisfaction can suffer. They may take more sick days or struggle to meet deadlines. They may be more prone to making mistakes or have difficulty collaborating with others.

It’s time for employers to change their attitudes and views on mental health. Rather than seeing mental health issues as a weakness or something to be hidden away, they should view them as a natural part of the human experience. They should prioritise the mental health of their employees by providing resources and support, such as mental health days, access to therapy, and employee assistance programs.

It’s not just the right thing to do from a moral perspective, it’s also good for business. Employees who feel supported and valued are more likely to be productive, engaged, and loyal to their employers. By prioritising mental health in the workplace, employers can create a culture of openness and understanding that benefits everyone involved.

But it’s not just about providing resources and support. Managers also need to change their attitudes and views on mental health. They need to recognise that mental health issues are common and that employees who are struggling are not weak or incapable. They need to make employees feel comfortable talking about their mental health and seeking help when they need it.

Of course, there are challenges to creating a culture of mental health in the workplace. It requires buy-in from all levels of the organisation, and it may take time to change deeply ingrained attitudes and beliefs. But the benefits are worth it. By prioritising mental health, managers can create a more compassionate and supportive workplace, where employees feel valued and empowered to do their best work.

I just want to finish by saying that promoting mental health and well-being in the workplace is essential to ensure that employees are healthy and productive. We need to break down the barriers and stigma attached to mental health issues and create a work environment that promotes openness, and understanding. With the right resources, education, and support, we can create a better and healthier work environment for everyone. Remember, seeking help is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength. Let us work together to create a brighter and healthier future for ourselves and those around us.


The New Normal: Coping with Mental Health in a Post-Pandemic World.

Who would have thought that four years on since I originally decided to write about the subject that I’d be back here writing about mental health once again? My thought process back then was that it would just be a one-off exercise as part of my wellbeing journey where I could document and share my own experiences with mental health issues.

The primary reason why I have decided to write about mental health again and how it is more important now than ever before is the increase in mental health challenges brought on by the covid-19 pandemic. The pandemic has had a significant impact on mental health around the world. The pandemic has created a perfect storm of stressors, which has resulted in an increase in mental health challenges. One of the most significant impacts has been the isolation and loneliness experienced by many individuals. People were suddenly unable to see friends and family, attend social events, or even go to work. This isolation has caused a rise in depression and anxiety.

Additionally, job losses and financial struggles have caused stress and anxiety for many individuals, further impacting their mental health. The pandemic has highlighted the importance of continuing to raise awareness for mental health and the need for more education around mental illness. Mental health stigma has been a long-standing issue, preventing people from seeking help and support for their mental health conditions. The pandemic has shown that mental health is just as important as physical health.

Writing about mental health has been a powerful tool for my own personal growth and healing. For me, writing has been a way to process my thoughts and emotions and to make sense of the chaos that the pandemic has brought. It has been a tough road to navigate, but it has allowed me to reflect on my own experiences and find ways to cope with my anxiety and depression. Hopefully, by writing about mental health again, I can inspire others to seek help when they need it and help break down the barriers to accessing mental health care.

Five years ago, I had reached a breaking point. The truth is that I had been struggling with mental health issues for many years, but it was becoming increasingly difficult for me to manage on my own. I struggled with intense mood swings, depression, and anxiety without really understanding what was happening to me. As a man, it was difficult for me to talk about my struggles with mental health. I saw it as a societal expectation that men should be strong and unemotional so I tried to hide my symptoms from everyone, afraid of the stigma and shame associated with mental health issues. But eventually, the weight of it all became too much to bear.

Living with Generalised Anxiety Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Panic Disorder, is a daunting and overwhelming experience. It feels like your mind is constantly racing, and you have no control over your thoughts or emotions. It can feel like you are drowning in an ocean of negative thoughts, and there is no way to come up for air. The fear of being judged or misunderstood by society, friends, or even family members made it even more challenging to cope with; it was exhausting to be constantly feeling that way, and it made me feel like I was a failure. Generalised Anxiety Disorder is characterised by excessive worry and fear about everyday situations. I would often find it very difficult to control the anxiety, which would have a significant impact on my daily life. For me, this often meant avoiding certain situations, such as social gatherings or work events.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is another mental health issue that affects many men. OCD is characterised by unwanted and intrusive thoughts or behaviours that are often irrational. I would often feel like I was losing control, which was very scary and frustrating. For me, OCD manifested in obsessive thoughts about checking doors and windows to make sure they were locked, intense stress when objects aren’t orderly or facing a certain way. Intrusive images of driving my car off the motorway at 70mph! Repeating scenarios in my head over and over again and not being able to control the outcome. Repetitive images, words and numbers. It was a constant battle to control my thoughts and actions, and it made me feel like I was going crazy.

Panic disorder is another mental health issue that affects many men. Panic disorder is characterised by sudden and intense episodes of fear and anxiety, which manifest themselves as panic attacks. Having a panic attack would feel like I was having a heart attack, which was absolutely terrifying. For me, panic attacks were a regular occurrence, and they often happened at the most inconvenient times, such as during a meeting at work. It was humiliating to feel like I was losing control in front of others.

These disorders can take a significant toll on a person’s life. It can be challenging to maintain relationships or keep up with daily responsibilities. Anxiety, fear, and panic attacks can make it difficult to leave the house or engage in social activities. Men with mental health issues may struggle to find the motivation to take care of themselves, including eating healthily, exercising, or maintaining personal hygiene. This can lead to a negative cycle of self-doubt and self-criticism, which can make the mental health challenges even more overwhelming.

That initial step of admitting that I needed help was not easy for me. I have always been someone who values his independence and self-reliance, and I didn’t want to appear weak or vulnerable in front of others. But after many years of struggling, I finally recognised that I needed to take action. I still face these immense challenges on a daily basis, and it is a struggle that can feel like an endless battle. However, I have learned valuable lessons from these challenges, such as the importance of seeking help and support. The stigma associated with mental health must be eliminated so that men can feel comfortable coming forward and seeking the help they need. The message to all men is this: you are not alone, and it is okay to seek help.