October 10, 2022

October 10th is World Mental Health Day, the result of a global advocacy and awareness program started by the World Federation for Mental Health in 1992. The World Health Organization (WHO) says, “Whilst the pandemic has, and continues to, take its toll on our mental health, the ability to reconnect through World Mental Health Day 2022 will provide us with an opportunity to re-kindle our efforts to protect and improve mental health.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic has created a global crisis for mental health, fueling short- and long-term stresses and undermining the mental health of millions. Estimates put the rise in both anxiety and depressive disorders at more than 25% during the first year of the pandemic. At the same time, mental health services have been severely disrupted and the treatment gap for mental health conditions has widened.”

Here are a few suggestions for looking after your mental health at work:

  • Talk about your feelings: You don't need to sit your loved ones down for a big conversation about your well-being. Many people feel more comfortable when these conversations develop naturally - maybe while doing something together.
  • Keep active: Proving to yourself that you can do hard things can increase your confidence, and it's a reminder to have fun.
  • Eat well: Food can also have a long-lasting effect on your mental health. Your brain needs a mix of nutrients to stay healthy and function well, just like the other organs in your body.
  • Drink sensibly: Apart from the damage excessive alcohol can do to your body, you would need more and more alcohol each time to feel the same short-term boost. There are healthier ways of coping through tough times.
  • Keep in touch: Spend time with friends, share a laugh and use this as a tool to relax.
  • Ask for help: Your family or friends may be able to offer practical help or a listening ear. Local services are there to help you.
  • Take a break: Use down time, such as your commute on the train, to let your thoughts flow.
  • Do something you are good at: Start up an old hobby, such as playing guitar. Concentrating on getting it right can relieve you of your worries.
  • Accept who you are: Being happy with who you are can lead to enjoying and living in the moment.
  • Care for others: Friends are important. Friendships are a two way street and supporting them can uplift your own spirits.

In 2022, the WHO will publish the first ever global guidelines on mental health and work. The new guidelines identify three types of strategies:

  • Organizational interventions reshape working conditions, for example by providing flexible working arrangements, promoting a healthy work-life balance and reducing stigma in the workplace.
  • Mental health training for managers strengthen supervisors’ knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviors so that they better support their workers’ mental health needs.
  • Interventions for workers increase individual's coping capacities and may include stress management training as well as strategies to promote leisure-based physical activity.

There is still much to learn about what works, and for who, when it comes to supporting mental health at work. But in all cases, promoting and protecting mental health at work remains a key strategy in transforming mental health for all.