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Why don’t we talk to workmates about mental health issues?
Apparently, we would rather talk to our colleagues about relationship issues, money problems and even sex, before we would raise the issue of our mental health with them.
That’s one of the findings from a survey of over 2000 adults by Time to Change, the mental health campaigning group. This suggests that mental health is still one of the last taboos in the workplace and that, despite progress, issues of mental health still do seem to attract a stigma.
When asked to select from a list the topics they felt they could talk openly about with their colleagues, 30% of respondents felt comfortable discussing a relationship break-up and 18% talking about sex, whereas only 13% said mental health, the subject ranking lowest out of ten possible topics.
One in four of us will experience a mental health problem in any given year. And yet Time to Change says these figures show that, when it comes to employment, the vast majority of people still feel unable to speak openly about their mental health with their line managers and even their close colleagues.
On the other hand, while people still feel uncomfortable talking about their own mental health, the survey shows they do want to support others. Over half said they would support a colleague if they noticed they were struggling with their mental health. However, 39% of these people said they wouldn’t know how to go about it.
But Time for Change suggests that offering support can be as simple as a text or email to say you are there to talk and to listen: that way we can all help to create more open, supportive workplaces when it comes to mental health.
But sometimes, even if we do feel able to open up to others, that won’t be enough. Our colleagues, friends and families might be well-meaning, but they will find it difficult to remain impartial. And they might struggle to help with more deep-seated emotional issues.
That is where talking therapies can help. Professional counsellors such as those in the East Sussex Counsellors group, offering counselling in Hastings, Eastbourne, Bexhill and other parts of the county, can help us to understand why we might be feeling depressed, anxious or angry and then to use that understanding to make the changes in life which we are looking for.
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