Considering mental health in the workplace has never been more important. Everyone is dealing with a degree of stress and anxiety as a result of COVID-19.
Despite moving to LEVEL 3, the reality is that your workforce is still isolated, people are still working from home, people are still homeschooling whilst juggling their jobs and their family commitments, and people are surviving without their usual support networks.
This is tough already but add in a layer of mental health concerns like anxiety, depression or any addiction to the mix, and suddenly something challenging becomes something overwhelming.
This is a time of significant stress for everyone
Keeping your team well during this time will be challenging.
It’s certainly at the forefront of our minds at Pro Climb as it is a time of significant uncertainty and stress. Mental health in the workplace currently means something different to what it did only a month ago as the situations we are presented with and working around are entirely unprecedented. Given that, it’s only logical that some of us will be struggling.
There is no doubt that a combination of stress and uncertainty can and will have significant and wide-reaching impacts on the mental well-being of people in New Zealand and on their families.
Research that we’ve done has revealed that mental health and addiction challenges are common in New Zealand, and anyone can experience them. Reading through government information that’s publicly available shows that studies indicate that 50–80% of New Zealanders will experience mental distress or addiction challenges or both in their lifetime. Around one in five people will experience mental health and addiction challenges in any given year. In addition, New Zealand’s rates of suicide remain stubbornly high and have been trending upward in recent years.
(Source https://mentalhealth.inquiry.govt.nz/inquiry-report/he-ara-oranga/chapter-1-the-inquiry/1-4-context/ )
It’s Ok to Not be Ok
It is normal to not feel all right all the time – it’s understandable to feel sad, distressed, worried, confused, anxious or angry during this crisis. Everyone reacts differently to difficult events, and some may find this time more challenging than others. The ways people think, feel and behave are likely to change over time – we all have good days and bad days.
In the words of Sir John Kirwan, “You’re not alone if life is really hard for you at the moment. Anxiety and depression are really common in New Zealand. One in five of us are going to experience it this year. But it is different for everyone…”
Mental health does not discriminate and it could be impacting your team, your colleagues, your family or your friends. You might even be struggling yourself.
Many business owners are under significant financial stress and some have, sadly, had to close their doors for the last time as a result of the pandemic. These reasons, and others which compact and compound the situation, can often be enough to exacerbate existing mental health issues or indeed to trigger them.
During this time, you may be looking for new or additional ways to help you feel mentally well and get through.
We believe that education around mental health in the workplace is everything
Education is critical and the recognition of signs that may indicate that a problem is present is very important. It is especially important in terms of the provision of support options for a person who may be experiencing the problem. Early identification can be an important factor in someone’s treatment and in their recovery.
The behaviours associated with mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, alcohol or substance abuse vary across individuals. All of these should be considered as potentially a sign that there is a problem and that someone in your workplace or wider team is struggling with mental health concerns. Behaviours may be exhibited as follows:
• More frequent, prolonged and increasing in intensity;
• Unusual or out of the ‘normal’ scope of behaviour exhibited by this individual; and
• Ongoing, irrational or disproportionally extreme.
Given that many people experiencing mental illness do not seek treatment, it is important to recognise the role that early recognition can play. Common signs indicative of a mental health issue include:
• Mood swings
• Easily distracted
• Blaming others/making excuses
• Late/absent for work
• Less sociable and withdrawn
• Loss of interest in food
• Isolation/withdrawal from social networks and relationships
• Irritability and frustration
• Low motivation
• Poor attention to detail
• Taking risks/being reckless
• Poor personal hygiene
How can you move forward and be proactive about the mental health in your workplace and support your team?
The reality is that even if no-one is talking about them, mental health issues are happening.
Unless you are a trained professional or expert you might feel overwhelmed or unsure about how to proceed from here, especially if you are concerned for yourself or someone you employ or work with.
The most important lesson is that you/we need to talk about it. Brushing it under the carpet or ignoring it WILL NOT HELP. In fact, it will just help to amplify it or to let it grow in significance as a problem. Talking is sometimes the hardest thing to do, but its also the most important.
What help is available?
If you need to talk, free call or text 1737 to talk to a trained counsellor. They’re available day and night.
There are also a range of resources and services available to help New Zealanders including phone and online services and information, as well as face to face support.
Most services are free, provide information and confidential advice from trained professionals. There’s also information for family, whānau, or friends if they need advice and support.
Visiting this government website will provide you with a list of available options and some really great support options.
However, if you are feeling suicidal or are worried that someone in your bubble might be – don’t wait for help – it’s important to get the help you/they deserve right now. Call Lifeline now and talk to someone who understands. The number and website are clearly displayed below.
If you need someone to talk to please call:
- Depression helpline: Free call 0800 111 757 or text 8681
- Alcohol Drug Helpline: Free call 0800 787 797 or text 8681
- Gambling Helpline: Free call 0800 654 655 or text 8006
- Healthline – 0800 611 116 – to get help from a registered nurse 24/7.
- Lifeline – 0800 543 354
- Samaritans – 0800 726 666
Take care at this difficult time. You aren’t alone. We are all in this together and we are working this out one day at a time, just like you.
To find out how we are working under COVID-19 alert level 3 please read here: https://www.proclimb.co.nz/covid-19-alert-level-3-operations/