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Mental Health

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Statistics tell us that one in four of people will experience a mental health difficulty at some point in life with work related stress, depression and anxiety frequently cited by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) as being the leading causes of sick leave absence in the workplace. Indeed the World Health Organisation estimates that by 2020 depression will be the second leading cause of disability globally. However, despite the fact that mental health problems are relatively common, people experiencing them can often find themselves facing stigma and discrimination.

Positive mental health however is not just reflected by the absence of mental illness. Mental health as defined by the World Health Organisation (2007) is:

A state of well-being in which every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution.

Mental Health is about:

  • How we feel about ourselves
  • How we feel about others
  • How we are able to meet the demands of life

Mental health therefore is more than the absence of physical illness, It is a broad concept that takes into consideration the ‘whole person’ – mental, emotional and physical. A well Employee is physically and mentally able, ready to participate fully in the workplace and likely to be more engaged at work.

Mental ill health on the other hand refers to the kind of general mental health problems we can all experience in certain stressful circumstances; for example, work pressures can cause us to experience:

  • poor concentration
  • mood swings and 
  • sleep disturbance
Such problems are usually of a temporary nature, are relative to the demands a particular situation makes on us and generally respond to support and reassurance. All of us suffer from mental health problems at times, and such temporary problems do not necessarily lead to mental illness. However, being mentally unhealthy limits our potential as human beings and may lead to more serious problems.

Mental illness can be defined as the experiencing of severe and distressing psychological symptoms to the extent that normal functioning is seriously impaired.

Examples of such symptoms include:

  • anxiety
  • depressed mood
  • obsessional thinking
  • delusions and hallucinations

Some form of professional medical help is usually needed for recovery and management. This help may take the form of counselling or psychotherapy, drug treatment and or lifestyle changes.