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Is 2018 the year for taking mental health at work seriously?

An estimated 300,000 people lose their jobs due to mental health, costing the economy an estimated £33-42bn a year, according to the Farmer-Stevenson review. Around one in four people experience a diagnosed mental health problem each year, according to mental health charity MIND.

Once a silent problem, mental health organisations have been pushing for ways to bring mental health issues to the workplace for the past few years. Initiatives like tomorrow’s World Mental Health Day, May’s Mental Health Awareness Week, Time to Talk Day are helping to raise its profile. 

This year the subject has been catapulted further into our consciousness by Princes William and Harry’s Heads Together charity. Teaming up with the CIPD and MIND, a new portal has been launched aimed at helping employers navigate their way in the workplace. 

We think it’s only a matter of time before mental health first aiders will become as normal at work as physical first aiders.

It’s about time we had this conversation about mental health. As the boundaries between work and home life continue to blur, it’s inevitable that stresses and strains will encroach. 

When they’re at work, people tend to show their “best side”: the skills and talents that keep their employers happy. Explaining how they really feel is probably the last thing they want to share. 

But if you remember shouting at your family after a bad day’s work or reaching for that extra chocolate biscuit when the deadline got shortened, or simply forgot to bring your keys when you were hurrying out of the front door this morning because you had that meeting on your mind, then you are experiencing some of the classic signs of stress. And if you’re stressed, then it is going to have an impact on your mental health. 

Having the tools and tips to manage these stress triggers is fundamental to the training we do at BiteSize Learning. At the heart of all our mental health courses is the idea of teaching personal responsibility.  

If you’re aware of your own mental health and are able to detect the early signs of stress then you can learn to manage it, reducing problems further down the line both at home and in working life. 

We’ve seen an increase in demand for wellbeing and mental health courses too this year as the range of topics widens from mindfulness to resilience building. 

Our courses combine scientific learning with practical strategies for immediate use gathered from a wide range of methodologies and psychological techniques.  

So in celebration of World Mental Health Day, we’ve asked our wellbeing course lead Janice Benning to share some of her top tips for personal wellbeing:

  1. Just breathe! Slowing your breathing to approx 8 breaths per minute and breathing from your diaphragm, will reboot your central nervous system within 10 minutes – and no one need know you are doing it!
  1. Get up and move – Latest research suggests we should move every 30 minutes, but realistically if we can get up and move every hour we will be helping ourselves to stay alert and function effectively.
  1. Stay hydrated – When we are 1% dehydrated we are 10% less efficient, so top up on fluids
  1. Activate a positive bio feedback loop and reduce stress by altering posture. If you want more energy, to increase testosterone and reduce cortisol, alter your posture to be more like Tigger’s and less like Eeyore’s!
  1. Avoid the afternoon slump by avoiding that high carb, high sugar lunch and be sugar aware. 

And remember resilience can be learned. We’re never too old, too junior or too experienced to start! Just visit our courses page to see what we do. 

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