How to deal with it?
Our knowledge of mental illness is incomplete, but we can say one thing for certain: mental illness isn’t laziness, attention- seeking, bad diet, mental, physical or spiritual weakness or a failure of character.
Accept that mental health problems are just as real as broken arms or high blood pressure.
It is far more uncomfortable for your employees to talk about as mental health conditions are still very much stigmatised in our society. No one on a construction site has a problem to say:
- O Gee, my back hurts
But how many trades people would feel comfortable to say:
- O Gee, I was so anxious last night, could hardly sleep.
Just stop for a second and observe your own reactions.
Anyone can develop a mental illness, there is no immunity to mental illness. At least 20 percent of adults are affected by mental illness every year (and these are very conservative figures)
Now look around at your workplace and count. Statistically every 5th person is dealing with some sort of a Mental Health Condition. That is a lot of people.
Most common mental health disorder is anxiety, followed by depression. Some might say
- Oh, it is getting so trendy, everyone gets diagnosed with anxiety, depression or bipolar disorder, maybe it is just being over diagnosed.
Most likely it is just the other way around. It has always been under diagnosed, not looked at, swept under the carpet. And now it is there, diagnosed, written, talked about, can’t be denied or pushed away any more. It needs to be acknowledged and accepted. Just this commitment to accept what is there is a major part of dealing with mental health conditions. The emotional freedom it brings to your staff members who have been dealing with a mental health condition often secretly and ashamed is enormous. They can say:
- I suffer from anxiety, panic attacks, it feels horrible.
They can say it and people around them hear it and accept it. No need to hide, to be ashamed or to be ridiculed.
“Backache” is not a more masculine disease then anxiety.
Taking the stigma out of Mental Health and accepting what is without denial or ridicule.
How does this tie in with our passion to make Australia Safe?
When a person with mental health problems experiences that he/she can talk about his/her condition at work without being stigmatised, ridiculed or devalued, he/she starts feeling safe at work. And even if 1 person feels safer at work you have improved the overall Safety in your company. And now let’s say in a company with 100 employees you have just improved the Safety of at least 20 employees.
To sum it all up in Tip Number 1 Accept mental health conditions of your staff members without judgement.