You break your leg, what do you do?
You go to the hospital. Right?
You get it X-rayed, plastered up and wait for it to heal.
When it twinges and you say “ohh my leg ain’t half hurtin’ today” (in this scenario you’re northern apparently), your peers may reply “does it hurt?”, “how are you feeling?”, or “why don’t you take the weight off it?”
Your leg hurts and to ease the pain you can simply, take the weight off it.
But what about mental pain? Would your peers suggest for you to ‘take the weight off’, if you told them you were suffering mentally?
The unfortunate truth is that they probably wouldn’t. Family, friends and colleagues alike.
That’s because there’s a stigma around mental health and that is exactly why Mental Health Awareness week has been created.
If somebody is physically ill we know to ask them “how are you feeling? Would you like help with anything”. But when it comes to mental illness, we don’t know what to do. Most of the time we may not even know there is an issue, as mental suffering can often be silent in it’s destruction.
Now, I’m by no means an expert in this area and how to combat mental health issues. In today’s world there are a million reasons why somebody could start suffering: stress, anxiety, depression. The list is limitless.
However, I do believe there is a way forward and for us to end the stigma, and that is for us to ‘be excellent to each other’ (sorry, I couldn’t resist the Bill and Ted reference). Whilst this applies to everyone, employers and colleagues I’m looking at you in particular.
The average person spends 90,000 hours at work during their life time. Just take a step back and think about that for a second.
If you’re spending 90,000 hours of your life at work, would it be too outlandish for me to say that most ill mental health issues start there?
Again, I’m no expert, I’m just starting to see a trend that needs to be addressed, especially in young people (dare I say millennials) across the world.
So, like the chair that somebody will lean on when they need to take the weight off physically, employers and colleagues, I urge you to be the person that someone can lean on when they need to take the weight off mentally. If somebody is acting strange in work, It’s OK to ask them how they are doing, or if they need to chat. After all you spend 8-9 hours a day with them.
Look at Manchester’s very own marketing agency ‘Social Chain’, they have a ‘Director of Happiness’ whose purpose in the business is to retain the specialness and wellbeing of the professionals who work for the firm.
A number of people may look at this role title and ask why is this needed in a business? I ask, why do you think it’s not? Shouldn’t we all strive to be happy in the place where we spend a 1/3 of our lives?
I understand that we can’t get it right all of the time. We can’t always see the signs of mental illness, sometimes there may not even be any. All I’m asking is that we try to be more aware. Make an effort to look for the signs and ask someone if they’re OK.
There doesn’t need to be a stigma around this anymore. 1 in 3 of us will experience mental health illness in our lifetime. So get up, start caring and start talking to each.
If you, or anyone you know is suffering from mental health problems you can get in contact the Samaritans for free on 116 123.
This blog was originally published on LinkedIn. To read the original blog click here.