‘Workplace Stress’ is a term I am hearing people use more and more lately. And I like it. It highlights the fact that anybody can experience stress or distress in the workplace.
You see, the Workplace Mental Health Institute specialises in the field of workplace mental health, and when we think about mental health, we think about mental health at every stage of the continuum. Let me explain:
‘Mental Health’ doesn’t just refer to people who are severely distressed, who have perhaps have been diagnosed with a serious mental disorder, or are having an acute mental health emergency.
‘Mental Health’ also refers to people who may be feeling a bit down, a bit anxious about something happening in their life, or just going through a rough patch. We would also describe that as someone experiencing some mental health problems at the moment.
But not only that, mental health can also be used at the other end of the scale (in fact ‘health’ is usually considered a good thing right!!!). So, looking after your ‘mental health’, can mean the person who is coping really well with life, happy, fulfilled, and waking up every morning feeling positive about work and life in general.
You see, when we think about it this way, mental health is relevant to everyone. We all sit somewhere along that scale all the time. We move up and down that scale too – it’s not fixed.
I think sometimes when we talk about ‘mental health at work’, people tend to assume we’re talking about the severe end – when everything goes wrong, when someone is suicidal, or has an episode at work. And that if that is not happening, then everything is OK.
But that’s not it. Not at all. There are plenty of people who may not yet be suffering enough for it to show up as a crisis, but have no doubts, it is still impacting on them personally, on their productivity, on their relationships with team mates and their manager. This ‘workplace stress’ needs to be addressed, and it needs to be addressed quickly – before it escalates into something much more serious. In my next article, I’ll look at some of the different approaches to dealing with it.
But for now, remember ‘workplace mental health’ is a constant. It always exists, its just a matter of where along that continuum it is right now, for any one person, or for the whole group. And depending where it is on that continuum, there are different activities which need to be happening (more on that soon too).