5 ways to help cope with mental health problems at work



With 1 in 4 people suffering with mental health disorders every year in the UK, trying to cope with these conditions in the workplace is a very real problem. Around 70% of sufferers don't seek treatment and so within the confined walls of an office, daily stresses coupled with your anxiety or depression can mount up to an almost impossible struggle.

Many see their job as a key component on the road to recovery with the sense of achievement and being part of a team contributing to a more positive self esteem. It's not always so easy to function effectively of course when dealing with an issue of mental wellbeing, but there are things you can do to help cope with problems of mental health at work.

Put yourself before work

It might pay the bills, but work is never more important than your health. Your recovery should always be at the top of your list of priorities, and while it may not be the cause of your problems, taking a back seat from your job every now and again could give you space to recharge and form some clarity of mind. Overexerting yourself or placing yourself in stressful situations will only highlight your struggles, so don't be afraid to delegate or complete things according to your own timetable. Don't get caught up in the competitive rat race.

Should you tell your employer?

Regardless of it's impact on your ability to do your job, you might feel that disclosing this sensitive information to your boss or colleagues will see you the subject of stigma within the office. These worries are understandable, especially if you find yourself in an environment with low job security. However, under the Equalities Act your employer is obliged to accommodate you and your condition if it is considered a long term affliction.

Many companies will have a mental health policy that encourages a positive attitude towards mental health and aims to reduce the cost that sick days bring. You might also feel better about taking time off if you feel that your boss is understanding and is looking to help you in your recovery. Of course, each case is different and whether you choose to tell your employer is completely up to you.

Take time off

While you may think that the place will just fall apart without you, clocking in everyday despite your struggles can prove to be counterproductive for your health, career but also your employer. Taking some time off can give you the opportunity to receive some help or perhaps give you some space to assess what you're feeling. Planning a trip away or doing something you really enjoy in this time could also give you a break from the mundane routine of day to day life and provide you with a new spark and perspective.

Stay Active

It's too easy to sit down at your desk at 8:59am and stare at your computer with a glazed eyed expression until leaving time. Boredom naturally gives birth to a low mood and so just going through the motions for eight hours a day will see most people lose their zip. Poet William Cowper was right when he said 'variety's the spice of life' and so mixing up your daily routine by going out for lunch or getting up every now and then to converse with colleagues might just keep away that boredom and lethargy.

Don't be a perfectionist

It can be easy to be hard on yourself when things aren't going your way but you have to resist the urge to berate yourself. Not everything you do can be perfect and accepting that there are going to be good and bad days will allow you to detach yourself from the situation and not take things to heart.

The impact of problems such as depression and anxiety are individual to each person and so how to cope with them is equally as individual. Above is merely some advice on dealing with issues of mental health in the workplace, but speaking to your GP and building a network of support are arguably the most important steps you can take in your recovery.
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