This week marks the annual Mental Health week in Australia. For the past 10 years my Mental Health has become a big factor in my transition between childhood to adulthood. It’s something I become very passionate about as I have seen the side effects of not taking care of one’s mental health. So, when asked to describe Mental Health, what would you say? If you were asked how to describe Physical Health, what would you say? It’s common to associate Physical Health with positive words like ‘being fit’, ‘fun’ or ‘rewarding’ but when we start to talk about Mental Health we think about illnesses, dark days, and crying. Bill Clinton summed it up perfectly when he stated “Mental Illness is nothing to be ashamed of, but stigma and bias shame us all”.
Andy Gibson’s condensed RSA talk from MindApples sums up perfectly what Mental Health is about and the importance of finding ways to improve your Mental Health. He uses the analogy of Mental Health is like Dental Health (he jokes that it’s only one letter away so the research is interchangeable). Imagine if you had a sharp pain in your tooth, you probably would book yourself straight into the dentist to get it treated. Or you may leave it for a while until it become unbearable and face your dentist who gives you the all too common ‘if you came two months ago, this would have taken 30 minutes to fix’. When it comes to our Mental Health we take the later option – we try and ignore it until it becomes unbearable.
Within the workplace, stress related sickness is becoming all too common. Safe Work Australia found that in Australia alone, businesses foot the bill of more than $10 Billion every year due to Mental Stress compensation claims. We put ourselves under extreme pressure to succeed. Our days at work get longer, meal times get shorter, and we forego sleep so we may catch up on errands. When our mental resources start to fade away, it can effect others. I have worked within the retail sector, and I currently work within the hospitality sector. It is incredible to observe how the managers treat the employees depending on how over worked they are or if they are at the start of their working week feeling refreshed. Teenagers are getting their first jobs in these industries but, their example are over worked and under paid managers who have little to no training in dealing with stress effectively – this isn’t the example we want to set is it?
So, where do we go from here? Mental Health isn’t combated by a one answer solution – or else I’m sure we wouldn’t be talking about it. I believe it starts with opening up the conversation. It doesn’t mean that we all sign up to the closest Mental Health workshop or force our friends or colleagues to divulge their darkest thoughts. Trust me, if you one day decide to sit me down and ask me to reveal why I was sad two days ago, you’ll see me running the opposite way and blocking your number. Starting the conversation just builds upon the connections we have with the ones around us. It may be having a lunch break with a colleague who is feeling anxious about missing another family celebration at the school and you offer to do their work for that afternoon. Sometimes its the small things that can really have a lasting affect on you.
Through my own personal experiences I have come to value a few techniques and simple life tips that make navigating life a lot easier on my mental abilities! I am constantly taking self-talk audits (yes, I like to relate things to Accounting) and you’ll forever be on the receiving end of my food tags on Facebook or scroll past my posts about food on Instagram. Two years ago I invested into my mental health big time and over these two years I have slowly build up a resource bank of skills and techniques to manage my mental health when life deals you a new deck of cards, as it always will! It’s time not shy away from the conversation about our feelings or weaknesses. Let’s start to celebrate our own Mental Health and value it as highly as we do with our physical health.
“Self love is making your physical, mental & emotional health a priority”