Expert Opinion

Mental Health Awareness Day: Making Better Decisions.

Mental Health. Depression. Anxiety.

What comes to mind when you hear those words? Maybe you or a loved one has fought a long and ongoing battle with the black dog; maybe you’ve been feeling overwhelmed at work recently but don’t want to be labelled with a diagnosis due to certain stigmas. According to Time to Change, 1 in 4 people will suffer from a mental health problem this year. Suffering from depression, anxiety or other mental health issues in silence can have detrimental side effects, but making better decisions can help prevent the onset of mental health problems.

Over the last two years, celebrities, social influencers and the media have saturated the conversation surrounding mental health in and outside the workplace. Whether or not this has benefitted the stigma surrounding people suffering from a mental health problem is still debated, but their’s no denying that if you’re struggling to balance your work and home life, or feel like you’ve got nobody to talk to, there is nothing “wrong”, and you’re not “failing”. How we react to depression, anxiety and other mental health problems can help to lift the fog or sink further into it. It may be in Vogue, but everybody suffers from anxiety at some point in their life.

Nicoll Curtin has proactively made adjustments to our work structure to help relieve the pressure on employees, introducing a mindful mover to counsel those in the high-pressure managing roles. Chevy Rough visits the office intermittently throughout the year and is an expert on promoting a healthy lifestyle while working in a high-pressured role like recruitment.

He explains, “My perception of mental health used to be that is was ‘all in the head’ and that I was just cursed with feeling sad, feeling anxious and generally held hostage by all these negative feelings that I couldn’t control. Even going to the doctors supported this. I was asked a few questions about how I feel, diagnosed with depression and then sent on my way with pills that would help with the problem.”

“What was missing?” Chevy continued, “Well, someone sitting down with me and explaining that I may not be able to control my thoughts, but I could influence them. How? By understanding how my body and mind work as one, realising the two are not separate and that physiology effects psychology in real-time.”

Having counselling in the workplace can benefit a company and it’s employees in so many ways. Whether it is workplace stress that is causing anxiety, or problems in someones personal life that is effecting their performance in work, which can lead to anxiety, depression and feeling overwhelmed, workplace counselling can act as a prevention as well as supporting those that might be suffering from mental health issues.

“A 2010 systematic study by McLeod of the research evidence, showed that workplace counselling interventions have been found to reduce sickness absence rates in organisations by as much as 50%”. In a sales environment such as recruitment, preventing absences through in-house counselling will save the company much more money than it spends on providing the benefit.

However, Chevy also believes that making employees aware of other ways to look after your mental health and promoting a healthy lifestyle is another solution to the stress that work can bring.

“I’m not saying there aren’t complicated narratives we have to unweave and dissect to help us process the trauma of times gone by because we do, and talking is one of the best steps you can take to helping you or a loved one through dark times. What I am saying is that there’s more we can do to help ourselves as we go on this journey, beyond using booze, work, food, drugs and social media as distractions. These things not only numb us, but actually, cause us more physiological stress that we can buffer. This adds to the mental problems we may be dealing with. Essentially, if you’re in a constant battle with your mind, maybe its time to take some accountability for the small things you can change daily to help you unravel the conversation.”

Basically, it’s important to both your work performance and mental health for you to use positive reinforcement instead of destructive reinforcements after stressful days. Go to the gym or enjoy a relaxing bath after a hard day instead of picking up a bottle of wine and packet of cigarettes, because, in the long term, they will only damage your body and mind more than looking after yourself.

Chevy lists so many things can cause physical stress that can have mental health consequences such as;

  • Bad nutrition,
  • Lack of sleep,
  • Working all the hours that God sends,
  • How we choose to respond to a client pulling out of a deal,
  • Drugs and alcohol are depressants and will cause mental health consequences,
  • Looking at a digital screen sends subtle signals to the brain to be in “fight or flight”.

Finding a healthy work-life balance can be really hard, especially when your job is based heavily on “billings” or if you’re going through a particularly difficult time in your personal life. These things do happen, people do suffer from anxiety and depression and other mental health problems, but improving small elements of your life can prevent the onset of mental health problems, helping you to react to stressful and difficult situations better. Some of these destructive behaviours can even be the root cause of your negative emotions and certainly won’t help if there are other causes.

“Just by improving sleep, or changing your diet can help people navigate a path out of that black hole. Usually, it’s a blend of all that truly helps, but the point you may want to consider is this:

“You are able to influence everything I have listed above. Yes it may be hard, yes it will take failure before success, but the power to help your head through the difficult moments of life, is actually in your hands, you just need to be accountable and make better decisions.”