Tag: mental health at work

mental health first aid

Mental health first aid

Mental health first aid is all about helping people understand the basics of mental health – how to spot early warning signs, how to respond and how to support someone with mental health issues. Mental health first aid offers information on how to prevent a mental health issue becoming worse.

When someone has a mental health issue, it can affect every area of their life. Their work, their self esteem and confidence as well as their relationships. If your mental health is at risk, every other part of life can be affected.


Everyone is different but there are warning signs that tend to be more common:


Someone who is beginning to succumb to depression may start to become quieter, less jovial and less sociable. They may take more time off work, be less productive at work, less focused and more distracted.


Behaviour changes drastically as depression takes hold. A person can become lethargic and less ethusiastic. They will seem to do less, smile less and participate less in life. Enthusiasm dips when someone is anxious or depressed.


For some people who are depressed, even taking a shower or brushing their teeth can seem a huge effort (this is usually when depression is at its worst). Life can feel like such an effort.

Depression is not a case of feeling sad, there is often no particular reason for feeling so low. This can make a depressed person feel guilt as they feel they don’t have a right to feel the way they do.


There can be genetic as well as personality factors (nature versus nurture) involved in the onset of depression. It isn’t the same as sadness which is usually a direct cause of an unfortunate event (such as losing a job or divorce). Prolonged stress can lead to depression, anxiety and/or panic attacks.


Many people try to self soothe incorrectly. They don’t want to talk about the fact that they aren’t coping for fear of being judged as weak. As a result they might seek out unhelpful ways to feel happier – alcohol, drugs, gambling. Addictive behaviours can help initially but the effects are short lived. They get the short lived dopamine hit and keep going back for more, inadvertently making the situation worse. Escape behaviours are the order of the day but the underlying problem will persist.


The worst thing you could ever do for someone who is anxious or depressed is tell them to “snap out of it”, “pull themselves together” or to “think positively”. It’s just not possible when someone feels depressed. It’s an involuntary state of mind caused by a variety of triggers.

Be kind and supportive as well as non-judgemental. Many people fear admitting that they aren’t coping and reacting negatively would prevent someone from reaching out. Listen to them, sometimes just being able to talk and have someone listen can help ease their emotional burden.

Someone with mental health issues needs to see their GP and find out about talking to a counsellor. If they haven’t been able to solve their depression on their own, it is highly likely that they will need a little help to find their way. There are many options available and being depressed doesn’t mean the end of the road although it may feel like that when in the throes of depression.


Depression tends to lead to inactivity, lack of enthusiasm and low energy. It is a mood disorder that zaps the energy and life out of someone. To complicate matters, those with bipolar disorder alternate between low energy and high energy episodes.

Anxiety involves more nervous energy – it is underpinned by fear and a sense of threat. There are many types of anxiety – generalised anxiety disorder,social anxiety, health anxiety, post-traumatic stress, obsessive compulsive disorder, panic attacks to name a few. Anxiety can manifest in many ways. It can also result in withdrawal and isolation (as in depression). Anxiety can interfere with daily functioning and lead to inaction, procrastination, indecision, seeking reassurance, over-checking and many other behaviours that are often referred to as “safety behaviours”. They ease the anxiety temporarily but the anxiety soon returns.

Many people with anxiety tend to avoid what they fear which leads to the fear remaining untested. Cognitive behavioural therapy is great for increasing exposire and gradually reducing anxiety.


Personality disorders are more common in people who were abused or neglected as children. Their neural pathways develop in a distorted pattern leading to a life time of dysfunctional thinking. Those with personality disorder can be hard to spot though and often maintain high functioning behaviour. Types of personality disorders – emotionally unstable personality disorder, antisocial disorder, narcisisstic personality disorder., to name a few.

Suicide is always a risk for someone who feels at the end of their tether. The more specific someone is in how they plan to commit suicide the more notice you should take. Never ignore threats. Someone feeling suicidal needs immediate intervention, either call: 111 or The Samaritans:116 123

Mental health issues are experienced by one in four of us and life is set up in such a way that we are constantly challenged. Unfairness, injustice, daily pressure, bereavement, relationship problems, debt – the list goes on. We all have our cross to bear. be kind, be tolerant and you may just save a life.

Mandy X

If you or someone you know needs help: mental health resources

poor mental health at work

Financial insecurity contributing to poor mental health for UK workers

* A quarter of employees are struggling to make ends meet, less than half are satisfied with their current financial situation

* Two-thirds say mental health and wellbeing affected by personal job security (66%)

* 90% of young people say their mental health is affected by the cost of living

A national mental health at work survey, commissioned by Business in the Community in partnership with Mercer, has found that employees are struggling to deal with the demands and insecurities of the workplace and that financial insecurity is contributing to the national burden of poor mental health.

The survey of over 4,000 people, conducted by YouGov and run for the third consecutive year, exposes the relationship between personal finances and mental health, with two thirds of respondents saying their mental health and wellbeing is affected by job security (66%) the state of the economy, (65%) and the cost of living (77%).

Financial concerns caused three-fifths of respondents to say they had experienced negative mental health symptoms such as loss of sleep, stress, lack of concentration, and fatigue, with younger workers in their 20s bearing the brunt of job insecurity and low wages; 90% reported their mental health was affected by the cost of living.

Fewer than half of employees (46%) are satisfied with their current financial situation, and 56% of employees are reluctant to talk about money issues at work.

Employees were more likely to talk to their manager about general mental health issues (24%) than financial issues (14%) when given a direct choice. However, half still say they wouldn’t like to talk about either, and only 17% of employees believed that their employer supports those with financial difficulties.

Although most employees feel unable to talk about financial wellbeing and mental health at work, 85% of people managers saw employee wellbeing as being their responsibility. Meanwhile 68% of managers

believed that there were barriers to providing support for staff mental wellbeing, with training a key concern; 67% of line managers said they had not had any training on mental health.

Business in the Community is calling on organisations to do more to support conversations between staff and their line managers about all aspects of wellbeing, including financial.

Louise Aston, wellbeing director, Business in the Community, said:

“There is a two-way causal relationship between financial wellbeing and mental health, but very few employers support employees experiencing financial difficulties. Employers have a role in educating employees in financial literacy and signposting to appropriate sources of professional support.

“There is huge financial pressure on employees, with stagnant wages and living costs which continue to rise, so employers have an important role in educating employees in financial literacy and signposting them to appropriate sources of professional support.

“Although there has been slow incremental improvement of overall mental health at work over the past three years, collective and urgent action by employers is needed to build momentum quickly, taking a ‘whole person’ approach to physical, mental, financial and social health and wellbeing.

The report asks employers to take action to support financial wellbeing. They should:

* Integrate financial wellbeing into organisational health and wellbeing policies and be explicit about what’s available or acceptable within the organisation to people with financial issues. For example, pay advances, hardship loans, time off to sort financial issues, travel loans, access to EAP, money counselling or other support services.

* Offer financial education to improve employee financial understanding increase the use of existing benefits; making available salary deducted savings, in order to create a financial buffer; or offering salary-deducted lower cost loans to help employees who are in debt or have unexpected expenditure but no savings. Include awareness of financial issues in line manager employee wellbeing training and equip them with information about what solutions are available as part of the overall employee benefits package.

* Signpost colleagues (staff, line managers and HR) to organisations that offer free help and guidance on money issues such as Money Advice Service (general money issues), The Pensions Advisory Service (for pension specific issues and Step Change (personal debt counselling).

Wolfgang Seidl, Workplace Health Consulting Leader UK and Europe, Mercer Marsh Benefits said:

“For the health of the workforce to flourish, focus must shift from disconnected initiatives to approaches that address employees’ physical and mental wellbeing as one”, said Wolfgang Seidl, “Someone struggling to manage their income, may experience stress and sleep loss, leading to unhealthy comfort eating. They might not yet experience health issues and by encouraging a focus on financial wellness, employers can help prevent any from developing further down the line.

“Mental health has become such an abstract concept that it seems it cannot be treated, so a practical approach is important. Looking at the root causes, such as financial worries, harassment, lack of equality, lack of opportunities to exercise, and more, makes it easier to find ways to prevent and treat.”

Eve Read, UK Consulting Leader – DC & Individual Wealth, Mercer, added:

“Employers need to consider what workplace initiatives are required to support their employees’ financial wellbeing. Depending on the specific pain points experienced by employees company benefits programmes can be structured to drive positive change, by offering financial clinics, education sessions, personalised mobile communications on finances, savings options and debt management initiatives.”

Alongside the recommendations on financial wellbeing, The Mental Health at Work report asks employers to: * Talk – Break the culture of silence that surrounds mental health by taking the Time to Change Employers Pledge.

* Train – Invest in basic mental health literacy for all employees and first aid training in mental health to support line manager capability.

* Take action – Implement the practical guidance found in Business in the Community and Public Health England’s Mental Health toolkit for employers.