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image image 13th May 2019

Recently, Mental Health has become a hot topic of conversation and is finally being recognized as an illness, something to be appreciated and something to be treated. Just like physical health, we all have mental health and sometimes, we just don’t feel like ourselves.

Have you ever woken up in the morning dreading work, dreading getting in the car or even leaving the house? Maybe you go out for drinks with friends, laughing and listening to their stories, only to return home and feel as though the world could swallow you up and you wouldn’t be missed. What if you have no idea how you feel, because sometimes, you don’t feel anything?

You might not recognise the signs of mental ill health, but statistics show that someone you know has suffered, or is suffering as you’re reading this. I don’t intend this post to bring anyone down, but I do want to point out the importance of acknowledging that this is a real thing. It’s affecting the people around us; including at the desks and in the meetings rooms we pass by everyday at work.

74% of people have reported that they felt so stressed they were unable to cope with current situations or were overwhelmed.

Last month The Data Shed sent 3 volunteers on a 2-day Mental Health First Aider course run by Inclusive Minds so that within the business, there would be direct access for anyone struggling with their mental health. I’ll be honest: I didn’t even realise these courses existed before it was suggested and thought you would only have the opportunity to attend this kind of class if you worked in the care industry.

As someone who has witnessed an array of mental ill health amongst family and friends, but who is not necessarily a sufferer, I couldn’t wait to learn more. I’ve been there to support those around me but was never quite sure if my approach and suggestions were helping. Now I’ve completed the qualification I feel much more confident in approaching people and talking about my feelings too, as I know that I’m working somewhere that isn’t going to judge me.

I’m constantly blown away by how much The Data Shed support their employees. Not only did they offer this course, they also signed every employee up to an Employee Assistance Program with Health Assured. This provides 24-hour access to online and over the phone help in areas such as stress, depression, financial troubles and abuse, to name a few. It means that no matter what we are struggling with there’s someone there to talk to and makes coming to work on those bluer days, that little bit less difficult, knowing you have the support around you if times get hard.

12.7% of all sickness absences in the UK can be attributed to mental health conditions.

As a society we’re stuck in limbo between people accepting that they don’t feel well enough to work, but who aren’t confident enough to explain the real reason. Sick days due to mental ill health should be viewed and treated in exactly the same way as a broken leg or chest infection and this means we need to talk about our experiences so that people don’t see it as taboo.

Are 3 too many?

Not at all. In the next few years we will see it become a requirement to have Mental Health First Aiders within the workplace, but if we’re able to make a change now, shouldn’t we want to? 1 qualified member of staff is of course better than none, however with most workplaces hiring anywhere between 10 and 1000 members of staff, that’s a lot of pressure to put on one person. Remember they’re just first aiders, they’re not counselors and much like a physical first aider, they’re there as a first point of call and to help get that person to the right place. What happens when they go on holiday, have a sick day, get overwhelmed or are struggling themselves? Sending at least 2 people means that you’re taking care of the wellbeing of your first aider and there’s a greater chance people will feel comfortable in approaching at least one of them.

To inspire you even more, on National Mental Health Awareness Day, we kicked off fortnightly Yoga in the office for any staff who would like to join. For a small data company tucked away in the corner of Leeds, The Data Shed sure are making a massive impact on their staff.

What you can do in the meantime...

I’ve put a few apps and resources that I’ve come across and tried out in the last few months, hopefully you’ll find something that’s right for you.

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