This week is Mental Health Awareness Week. The theme is this year is stress. Stress can pervade our lives, but one aspect is stress at work. Keeping a mentally-healthy workforce is best for everyone: the employees, the business and the customers.
Being self-employed as a musician, workplace stress has a slightly different connotation. I’m preparing this week for a solo piano recording on Friday. It can be highly stressful and intense, but I’ve done enough of these projects to know how to manage my stress.
And it is in managing stress that workplaces are now realising they need to put provisions in place. Stats show that mental ill-health cost UK businesses £35 billion last year. A massive sum, made up of absences for illness, lost productivity and staff turnover. And it doesn’t take into account the personal cost to each of those who suffer mental ill-health. Mental Health First Aid is being rolled out in many businesses.
One in six people will be suffering from depression, anxiety or stress-related problems at any given time. The Mental Health Foundation released a report this week on stress. Stress, Are We Coping? looks at how stress, which is itself not a mental illness, can lead to anxiety, self-harm, depression and other mental health conditions. Dealing with stress in a healthy, holistic way protects and guards our mental health.
We all have coping mechanisms – some good, some bad. The thought I’d like to leave you with is to look out for those around you. They might not realise they are stressed, as they are in the stress, but you as a friend or work colleague will. If we watch out for one another, we create an environment of mutual support which is better for all of us.
* Kirsten Johnson is an Oxfordshire County Councillor and Day Editor for Lib Dem Voice. She stood as the Parliamentary Candidate for Oxford East in the 2017 General Election.