Bring down the balloons, put away that piñata.
Divide up that cake, and take down the celebrations.
10th October, World Mental Health Day is over for another year
Here at Headtorch we’ve been working hard to spread the word and celebrate with others who recognise the importance of a mentally healthy workplace. Our campaign, Celebrate Mental Health At Work, has had people putting up their hands all over the place, and our very own Amy has been spreading the word in articles for the Huffington Post and the Herald. It’s been a great success, and really brilliant to connect with so many others who understand the equal importance of mental and physical health.
But now we’ve divided up the cake, and taken down the celebrations, what happens next?
World Mental Health Day was first celebrated in 1992, and first initiated by the World Federation for Mental Health. This is the twenty-fourth World Mental Health Day. October 10th 2016 was not just a one-off then, but instead this day of advocacy, awareness and action was part of a continued effort to raise awareness of mental health issues throughout the world.
Each year also has a theme; this year it was Psychological First Aid (PFA), and the support it can provide to people in crisis. A crisis can be big or small, affecting entire populations or sole individuals, it could be a natural disaster or a car accident. Crises have psychological, social and emotional consequences for those they affect, and psychological first aid, as well as physical first aid, is hugely important to ensuring people are best supported.
PFA is a form of non-intrusive care that emphasises listening and compassion in order to attend to a person’s basic needs, getting them what they feel they need, and helping them to connect to information, services and social supports. You can read more about PFA here.
The knowledge of how to best aid and empower someone in crisis has rarely felt more important, and it is surely a fitting theme for a year in with more people find themselves displaced than since the height of the Second World War. Yet the skills and approaches advocated on this year’s World Mental Health Day are also entirely relevant to, and applicable in, every workplace up and down the UK. In fact, learning about practices such as PFA is vital to good mental health in the workplace. Employees can discover so much about how to listen to people without being judgmental, about how to provide links to relevant care services without being pushy. Knowing about such practices allows you to ask yourself: how can I empower my colleagues in times of crisis?
Remember that a crisis can be large-scale or individual traumatic events, and that these events aren’t so uncommon; 1 in 3 adults in England will experience a traumatic experience in their lifetime (1). To have a mentally healthy workplace it is vital that employees feel equipped to support a colleague in the immediate aftermath of such an event, be it a car accident, an assault, or any other abnormal incident in the workplace.
Now that we’ve all put our hands up, it’s important that we don’t just celebrate the importance of a mentally healthy workplace, but that we remember to keep learning about what a mentally healthy workplace means and how we want it to operate. Now the party is over we have to strive towards helping people feel better supported, better informed and better able to support others.
There’s still so much to do.
And if you need something to aim for then I guess there’s always October 10th 2017.
1) Statistic taken from the 2014 Adult Psychiatry Morbidity Survey and reproduced by www.mentalhealth.org.uk for World Mental Health Day 2016 at https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/sites/default/files/1%20in%203%20traumatic%20event%20WMHD.jpg
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