Sometimes its more than a case of the ‘Mondays’ and mental illness is frequently referred to as the ‘last taboo’ because despite an undeniable increase in awareness surrounding mental health disorders, many people still struggle to open up about their internal battles. A recent survey by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development suggests that most people don’t think their colleagues would be receptive to discussion of mental health issues at work, which shows there is still more that can be done to address the issue and break down barriers.
Researchers at the Institute found that 85% of workers thought that there was still a stigma attached to stress and mental health in the workplace and of 1,000 adults surveyed 26% had taken a day off work because of a mental health problem but lied about why there were out of the office, 58% said that they wouldn’t feel comfortable telling their boss if they were diagnosed with a mental health problem. Yet, according to figures from the Global Burden of Disease study around 268 million people worldwide were diagnosed with depression in 2016, while 275 million were living with anxiety disorders so the issue is long shot from uncommon.
One of the problems faced is that the epidemic is a hidden one with people suffering privately with an illness that cannot be seen, often feeling that nobody else understands their torment when in reality the problem is widespread particularly, among professionals. At Wynne-Jones IP we recognise that our profession is a stressful one and actively try to encourage open dialogue and support networks among colleagues. Last month for example included national Mental Health Awareness Week and our active Charity, Social and Wellbeing committee took the opportunity to put on a week full of awareness activities for staff which including dancing, talks, an exercise class and massage. We also offer each employee counselling sessions as part of our health care benefits employment package and a monthly massage to try and encourage relaxation and reduce stress levels.
IP professionals aren’t the only ones at risk though and entrepreneurs are also exposed to the conditions that increase the risk of mental health problems that stem from work related stress and anxiety. Often feeling they are swimming against the tide with limited financial and human resource, and without the support of an understanding company, entrepreneurs need to be mindful of the risks to their mental health and make self-care part of their long-term business plan. Sustainability should be a focus word in every business plan (be it a start-up or an established business) and when you are your only human resource and your business plan relies on your ability to execute it then looking after yourself for the long term is crucial.
Pacing and moderation is as important as passion and determination and there isn’t much point in ploughing 100% of your financial, physical and mental resources into an idea if you are going to burn out and not make it to the finish line. Remember that you are your most important asset and you need to look after yourself. Make a point of scheduling down-time and self-care into your diary and treat it as a priority. Use the screen-time function on your phone to stop the temptation of responding to emails into the small hours.
If you’re in it for the long haul then you must remember that it’s a marathon not a sprint.