Paragon supports World Mental Health Day

Paragon supports World Mental Health Day

Paragon HR Advisor, Romneek Kunvarji, has written a blog about mental health, the reason for the theme this year, and what we can do to help ourselves and others around us improve their mental wellbeing. Read on to find out more.

"Our mental health is just like our physical health: everybody has it and we need to take care of it. We all need to take care of our mental health and wellbeing whether we have a mental health problem or not.

Mental health, like physical health, can fluctuate on a spectrum from good to poor and can affect any of us irrespective of age, personality or background. Struggles can appear as a result of experiences in both our personal and working lives – or they can just happen.

Despite the fact that it is very common, some people still find it difficult to talk about. It can seem too personal or complex. 

This year World Mental Health day focuses on suicide prevention. The Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) is leading a movement against suicide and are dedicated to preventing male suicide.

Every 40 seconds, someone loses their life to suicide. Suicide is the leading cause of death among young people aged 20-34 years and is the leading cause of death for men under 45 in the UK. One reason men are more likely to die by suicide may be because they are less likely than women to ask for help or talk about depressive or suicidal feelings. Talking about suicide and understanding it better is necessary to help prevent further suicides in the UK.

A simple action we can all take – be observant to those around us, listen and ask twice.

When we see a colleague who might need support, approach them and ask how they’re doing. Sometimes we say we’re fine when we’re not. The average person says they are fine 14 times a day in response to this question – a person who is seeking to hide how they are truly feeling is likely to do the same. But how often do we really mean it? By asking twice we can show real care, concern and compassion towards each other.

We don’t need to be experts in mental health to listen and we don’t need to be afraid of not having all the answers. We simply need to be compassionate and show a willingness to listen and provide support.

We are all different. What affects someone’s mental wellbeing won’t necessarily affect other in the same way. But we all have times when we have low mental wellbeing, where we feel stressed, upset or find it difficult to cope. Other times there is no clear reason for why we feel the way we do – which can be frustrating.

Everybody experiences a huge variety of feelings, thoughts and emotions as part of their normal life. But how and when we have them can be really different, depending on who we are.

Mental wellbeing describes how you are feeling and how well you can cope with day-to-day life. It can change from moment to moment, day to day, month to month or year to year. Here are some tips on practical steps you can take to improve and maintain your wellbeing:

  1. Building positive relationships - connect with others, it can help is to feel a greater sense of belonging and can help to challenge feelings of loneliness.
  2. Make time for the people you love by keeping regular contact with friends and family whether it’s face to face, on the phone or by text.
  3. Talk about the way you feel and open up to a trusted friend, family member or colleague.
  4. Take time for yourself – it’s essential for your wellbeing and can help you to be more resilient.
  5. Learn something new and gain new skills which can help boost your confidence and give you a sense of achievement.
  6. Do something you enjoy – it’s positive for your wellbeing to do something that makes you feel good.
  7. Relax.

With 1 in 6 employees currently experiencing mental health problems, mental health is an essential business concern. There is a strong relationship between levels of staff wellbeing and performance.

Encourage healthy behaviours – simple steps like taking a lunch break, exercising (including going for a walk), getting enough sleep, taking time out to relax and eating a healthy balanced diet can help our mental health.


Top tips to get the conversation started

How am I feeling today? Before you set off to helping others, first ask yourself this question. If you are already running on empty, perhaps it is not the right moment to approach a mental health conversation. Try to reschedule or choose a day when you have more time and energy.

Find a quiet place where you are unlikely to be interrupted. A coffee offsite or a lunch time walk are great places for sensitive conversations.

Listening is powerful! Try to listen and not offer any solutions or advice. 87% of communication is body language and only 3% words. Try to have an open body language, this will help to communicate empathy.

Don’t assume. Ask how you can help and what you can do to support on a day-to-day basis"

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