Mental health. Two words which together have become much more common in English parlance over recent years.
Mental health refers to cognitive, behavioural, and emotional well-being. It is all about how people think, feel, and behave. It can affect daily living, relationships, and physical health and it exists in our lives, families, workplaces and communities, impacting everyone.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) one in eight people worldwide live with a mental health issue.
And this number is likely to increase thanks to the after effects of Covid, anxieties over climate change, the cost of living crisis not to mention personal stresses and strains, which are all undoubtedly having an impact on our mental health to some degree.
Today (October 10) is World Mental Health Day and this year’s theme is to “make mental health and wellbeing for all a global priority”.
A poll published by IPSOS on October 5 found for the first time, mental health has overtaken cancer as one of the top global health concerns.
The annual survey, which this year ran in 34 countries between July 22 and August 5, also found 76% of respondents believe mental health and physical health are equally important. However only a third (33%) said the health services in their country treat them equally.
Just over half (58%) of those polled said they “often” think about their own mental wellbeing.
And according to the findings, generally speaking, mental health issues are felt more strongly by people under 35, women, and low-income households.
Here in the UK we have historically not been great at opening up and talking about our feelings. Indeed, the classic “stiff upper lip” was seen as something very much to adhere to and bottling up feelings or anxieties were commonplace.
Not only that, mental ill health is generally invisible. It’s not like having a physical ailment such as a broken arm or the flu which can be seen clearly. Many people still mask their feelings by “putting a brave face” on things, potentially causing more damage both in the short and long term.
Another consequence of this is it does not allow those lucky enough not to suffer, to understand or empathise, or even realise necessarily the person is suffering.
Thankfully nowadays, although the stigma has not entirely gone away, increasing numbers of people seem to be more willing to discuss their mental health issues and seek to get help when things get too much.
So this World Mental Health Day is a chance to talk about mental health in general, how we need to look after it, and how important it is to talk about things and get help if you are struggling.
Here at SBK we, like many other companies and organisations up and down the country, are still learning about mental health and what we can do to be more responsive and empathetic, both in and out of the workplace.
We may not get it right all the time, and it’s definitely a work in progress, but it’s one we are determined to do better at.