The Significance of Mental Health
The creation of Men’s Mental Health Week has increased conversations and resources surrounding men and mental health. Since COVID-19, we have turned our focus back to our overall health, reminding ourselves to check-in to our physical and mental wellbeing. The conversation about mental health must be undertaken mindfully and sensitively, with the understanding that everyone’s needs are unique. Suicide is the leading cause of death for men under the age of 45, with 12.5% of men having a mental health condition at any one time. It is imperative we treat mental health with the same weight as physical health as both are equally impactful on our quality of life.
Over the past decade we have seen a significant increase of resources about mental health which helps tackle the prejudice and discrimination surrounding such issues. However, there continues to be a stigma surrounding the discussion of mental health problems, particularly in the workplace. One of Teal’s (and therefore Konsileo’s) key principles is wholeness, whereby we encourage everyone to bring their whole selves to work, remaining open and honest about wellbeing without judgement. To continue to support this model, we have gathered colleagues from both the Central Team and Client Directors to create a group of Mental Health First Aiders (MHFA) who are available to talk to anyone at any point about their wellbeing. We hope this encourages people to view their workplace as a safe place.
Being a Mental Health First Aider
We spoke to Alan Horton, one of our MHFA, about men’s mental health and his role as a first aider. He explains how through his experience he has learnt the “calmness to listen and to offer support to anyone who potentially needs help.” It is because of this that he joined the MHFA team; “through my own low points, I know how to and want to make a difference.” His advice to any man struggling is “TALK and discuss how you’re feeling, which as a middle aged man is not easy but once you take the leap of faith and share feelings, we all have the ability to learn we are not alone.” Vocalising problems is directly linked to lower levels of stress and by taking the first ‘leap of faith’ we can protect ourselves and get the help we need.
When asked what he does to support his wellbeing, Alan said that although, “my newborn son Hugo means hobbies are not at the forefront of my attention, it is still important to take time to relax and have space to think. Even mowing the lawn or a walk are simple pleasures I enjoy at the minute.” If we do something we enjoy, our brain releases happy chemicals such as dopamine, which decrease our stress levels. Hobbies force us to slow down and focus on ourselves and our needs, allowing us to keep in-touch with our mental wellbeing.
Alan describes how, “we all have different motivations. I believe we can all make marginal changes to enhance our wellbeing and mindset and potentially just need pointing in any given direction.” Part of the MHFA job is being the person someone asks for directions; it is easy to feel isolated and disconnected, which is why our first aiders are the key to starting that all-important conversation.
At Konsileo, we are conscious of how our mental health is affected by an amalgamation of work and personal life. The creation of our MHFA team is yet another step towards building an environment that truly values colleagues and their wellbeing. Our goal is to continue to respond to the conversation surrounding mental health and actively work with our colleagues to put usable support systems in place.
If you’re struggling with mental health, below are links to resources and support. Remember, you are not alone.
The Samaritans: 116 123 (lines open 24 hours)
Shout Crisis Text Line: for support in a crisis, Text Shout to 85258