Why mental health needs to be considered at work, and how employers might support their staff in a changing world.
It is generally accepted in both the eastern and western medical profession, that the body becomes ill when its natural state of balance has been upset. A variety of factors can upset this balance including climate, genetic inheritance, diet and more increasingly stress.
Modern society has become increasingly stressful, with longer work hours, over stimulation of screen time and general busyness. Modern living has many conveniences and luxuries that in the past we could only dream about! Yet have you noticed how living at this pace may be affecting your state of mind, your productivity and general state of happiness? Mental health issues have become a disparate side effect to fast, modern living, with anxiety and depression most prevalently symptomatic in an over stimulated world.
The World Health Organisation defines good mental health as follows:
“A state of wellbeing 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 to her or his community.”
Given that every human being can be affected by mental health, we are all ranging on the scale from good mental health and thriving, to poor mental health and struggling. Poor mental health can range from low mood to severe mental illness with varying symptoms, resulting in inability to work. Within these parameters of poor mental health there are some illnesses that arise due to circumstance, whereas some people are clinically disposed to mental illness due to genetic factors.
Are You Thriving At Work?
In 2017 Theresa May requested a review identifying mental health issues at work and the effect they are having on productivity. Subsequently the following paper was written, “Thriving at Work, the Stevenson/Farmer review of mental health and employers” – a detailed account, submitted to government, that identifies mental health issues in the workplace and how these might be dealt with and resolved. According to this research the following data was ascertained:
- Mental health issues have increased throughout the last 20 years, mainly within younger women and older men, with anxiety and depression as the most prevalent problems.
- 1 in 4 people were diagnosed with having a mental health problem – but with a stigma still attached to mental health issues even just a few years ago, the suggestion was that there may be many more unidentified cases.
- Poor mental health costs employers between £33 billion and £42 billion a year.
- An individual can have a serious mental health problem but with the right support can still be thriving at work.
- Mental health programmes can generate a return on investment of up to 800%.
Thankfully, much has been does recently to de-stigmatise mental health issues. Spearheaded collectively by Prince William, Harry, and their spouses in Heads Together (a collection of 8 Mental health charities including MIND) and the Royal Foundation. Tremendous leaps have been made to bring mental health issues out in the open and acknowledge that a person’s psychological wellbeing is just as important as their physical health.
In the Thriving at Work review it is stated:
“We need to move to a society where all of us become more aware of our own mental health, other people’s mental health and how to cope with our own and other people’s mental health when it fluctuates. It is all our responsibilities to make this change.”
What Has Been the Corporate Response to This?
There has been an extremely hopeful response with large corporations taking steps to improve mental health in the workplace, exemplified in companies such as Hiscox and their launch of WeMind.
“The idea is that ‘WeMind’ focuses on mental health awareness and promoting the importance of looking after our mental wellbeing, with a programme of regular events, activities and both internal and external speakers. It also drives initiatives such as classes in Yoga, Pilates, mindfulness, and nutrition, as well as our fortnightly ‘walk and talk’ and other sports clubs.”Emma Cordingley, Early Careers Manager and HR Advisor at Hiscox
However, since the pandemic, mental health has plummeted even further. According to AI research database Oracle.com, 70% of the global workforce say 2020 was the most stressful year ever and a mental health crisis is looming along with Covid 19.
Last year the sudden shift to remote working from home literally overnight has left people burnt out and isolated. Work and home life has become blurred with routines disrupted, and today remote working, even as a part time solution, is here to stay. Organisations and any business with employees need to swiftly address their workers mental health, including stress, anxiety, and depression, before their morale and health so diminishes that they are no longer fit for work.
How I Can Help You!
Having worked in the wellness industry for over 20 years, specialisng in yoga, diet, meditation, and mindfulness, I have recently expanded work to the corporate marketplace. In researching the current needs of employees within organisations, I have created a package in the form of workshops specifically designed to address mental health issues and wellness in the workplace. The Holistic Toolkit brings a person’s mind, body and soul into alignment and balance naturally, empowering them with tools to thrive at work with an improved sense of wellbeing.
The Holistic Toolkit contains the following:
- Mindfulness – what it is and how it can be applied in daily life – why slowing down can speed performance – practising gratitude and active listening – employing self-care routines – building comradery.
- Nutrition – understanding the importance of good nutrition and regular hydration – implementing healthy dietary habits – exploring simple, tasty recipes and snacks for the workplace.
- Yoga – helping the body maintain optimum physical health through yoga postures – developing physical and mental strength and flexibility – learning effective breathing techniques to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression – reinforcing a sense of connectedness to the world.
- Meditation – the power of silence – learning ways to quieten the mind as an effective way to boost creativity – how taking time to meditate brings great rewards with renewed inspiration and energy to complete work tasks.
The toolkit can be arranged to suit your company and can be delivered online or in-person. Having my own studio in Ruthin. North Wales means that it is also possible to take small groups in a retreat style setting and work more intensely over a few days for a deeply transformative experience in developing self-care, boosting morale and building comradery.
Here is a testimonial from some recent corporate work:
“I am Head of Psychology of a large sport organisation. As part of our inaugural “Wellbeing” Week I contacted Ceri-Lee to see if she would be able to contribute to the event. Ceri-Lee delivered meditation and mindfulness workshops across our event. Ceri-Lee was an exceptional presenter who was extremely knowledgeable with a “down-to-earth” approach. The attendees all felt at ease with her delivery and personality. In the sessions we had athletes who compete on the world stage to staff and family members of all ages. Everybody who attended the workshops took something away from the sessions and I received unconditional positive feedback about the impact of the sessions on both the attendees physical and psychological wellbeing. We will be looking to use Ceri-Lee expertise in the future to work with our organisation, and I cannot recommend her input highly enough.”PR Head of Psychology
Please do not hesitate to get in touch for more information and if you would like to consider the wellness options for your employees using all, or part of the Holistic Toolkit. The package/sessions can be tailored to suit the needs of your company and it would be great to have a chat and discuss possible options. Contact Ceri here.
Ceri Lee BA (hons) is a senior yoga teacher, midlife mentor and owner of the Yoga Light Centre, an independent yoga studio with guest accommodation in North Wales. From here she teaches weekly yoga classes and records her specialist online series. She offers midlife mentorship programs, 1-1 yoga tuition, and regularly runs yoga retreats around the world.