Mental health is the way we think and feel and our ability to deal with ups and downs. It is something we all have. When we enjoy good mental health, we have a sense of purpose and direction, the energy to do the things we want to do, and the ability to deal with the challenges that happen in our lives.
Our mental health does not always stay the same. We are on a continuum in our workplace environment. It can fluctuate as circumstances change and as you move through different stages in your life. Distress is a word used to describe times when a person is not coping – for whatever reason. When we feel distressed, we need a compassionate, empathetic, human response.
You and the Continuum
Mental health can best be viewed as a continuum. In the workplace we can view this continuum and determine where we are on the continuum using the associated signs or markers. These are Excelling, Thriving, Unsettled, Struggling and In Crisis.
We all fit into this continuum, we do not have to fit precisely into any of the Icons or descriptions, but we are on the continuum of mental health. One advantage of seeing mental health in this way, is that we do not separate out people who are mentally ill, from those who are not. Instead we can see everyone as existing at different points on the continuum scale.
The use of the continuum is for establishing what support is required, it is not used to judge a person.
Break the Stigma
So, it is not that people with mental illness are completely different from other people it is just that they are on different points on the continuum. This helps break down the stigma because the mental health continuum is applicable to everyone, crucially we all have the potential to move along it in either direction.
As a manager having identified where your team member is on the continuum you can now determine an action plan of support. The worst thing you can say to someone experiencing a mental health condition or in the Unsettled, Struggling or In Crisis stages is – “ Man up, Just get over it, Pull yourself together, It is not so bad, have a cup of tea and get back to work, it is all in your head, everybody has a little down/ moody / OCD type of day it is normal, This will pass, Snap out of it…….”
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