Blog·Company Culture

December 10, 2019

Mental health in 2020: A diagram

Just a brief blog on some definitions surrounding mental health, and why it is important to keep yours healthy.

Mental Health Day 2020

Mental health day in 2019 was on Thursday the 10th October. Next year, it falls on a Saturday, the 10th October 2020. The goal is to raise awareness for mental health. We can all make a contribution to help ourselves and others with mental health issues. Now we aren’t going to tell you what works, what helps and the ins and outs of mental health as frankly it would be insensitive and wrong for us to talk about such a sensitive topic without any formal training. Let’s leave that to the experts. What we will discuss though, is why you need to keep a check on your mental health continuously throughout the year.

Mental health and its surrounding implications aren’t particularly well understood, so it’s important to maintain focus on mental health and personal wellbeing continually throughout the year in your organization.

What is mental health?

According to the World Health Organization(WHO), mental health is defined as:

"a state of well-being in which the individual realizes their own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to their community"

A leading researcher in the field has a slightly different definition. Corey Keyes identifies three main components of mental health: social wellbeing, physical wellbeing and emotional wellbeing. Social wellbeing includes positive functioning, social contribution (contributing to society), social integration (feeling part of the community) and social actualization (the belief that society is becoming a better place for all). Psychological wellbeing includes having good relationships with others, being satisfied with one’s own life and liking most parts of one’s personality. Emotional wellbeing refers to an interest in life, satisfaction and happiness.

A separate but related definition comes in the form of the mental health continuum. The continuum projects mental health on to a continuous linear perspective and is helpful in recognizing patterns of behavior. Let’s give you a diagram to help you out…

Optimal Mental Well-Being X Minimum Mental Illness

Ideal state of functioning where people experience happiness and satisfaction with no mental illness.

Optimal Mental Well-Being X Maximum Mental Illness

Individuals have a high sense of subjective well-being despite suffering from

Minimum Mental Illness X Minimal Mental Wellbeing

Subjective state of unhappiness or dissatisfaction with the absence of any noticeable mental health disorder.

Maximum Mental Illness X Minimal Mental Wellbeing

Problematic. An individual has significant mental illness with a distinct unhappy and dissatisfied state of well-being.

mental health day 2020

These are just a few of the many definitions people have of mental health, indicating the complexities and intricacies of mental health. It also shows you how different aspects impinge on your mental health.

Why is your mental health important?

As mental health awareness continues to gain traction it is important, we all jump on this traction and consider our own mental health. People may have the tendency to try and ‘suck it up’ but this is unlikely to help anyone. You might be fine, or you might not be fine, whatever the case, keep monitoring your mental health and act upon it if you are not fine or you are worried about it.

“Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of, but stigma and bias shame us all.” - Bill Clinton

Research into mental health has revealed positive relationships with these facets in life:

why is mental health important

1. Financial Stability

There is a correlation between mental health and employment. Moreover, mental health and absences from work and increased leave. The American Journal of Psychiatry report that individuals with serious mental health issues earn approximately 40% less than those with good mental health. Mind, the UK Mental Health charity suggest that financial instability and mental health have a bi-directional relationship. They argue worrying about money makes one’s mental health worse which affect your ability to manage money. And this relationship has an effect on each other in a vicious circle. Here are some of the reasons they give as to why money and mental health are very closely linked:

  • If you can't work or have to take time off work, your income may be affected.
  • You may spend excessively to make yourself feel better. Spending can give you a temporary high.
  • You may lose the motivation to keep control of your finances.
  • Dealing with the benefits system or being in debt may make you feel stressed, anxiousand worried about the future.
  • You may not have enough money to spend on essentials.
  • Money problems can affect relationships and your social life

2. Productivity

For those in employment, research indicates a link between mental health and reduced productivity. The WHO report that 200 million workdays are lost each year due to depression. A 2012 study in Norway report that those struggling with depression and anxiety are more likely to take sick leave, and will take them for longer periods of time.

3. Better Physical Health

Both the body and the mind are temples. But they are not two separate ones, more that they are the two main structures in a single temple. Physical pain, especially long term or continuous physical pain may affect your ability to complete tasks and can lead to stress, depression and anxiety. Research in 2012 ratifies this link, arguing that those with physical health problems are more three times more likely to seek mental health care.

This relationship works the other way too. Mental health affecting daily physical routines like sleep and the immune system or may prevent people from getting the exercise they need.

4. Strain on Personal Relationships

A recent survey indicates that a high majority of mental health patients report that their condition impacts negatively on their relationships with their family and friends. Mental illness can be a painful time for these external people, and ca have an impact on financial and emotional component of relationships.

Looking after an individual with a mental illness can be very stressful and may lead to somatic problems i.e. migraines, fatigue, loss of appetite, or even emotional and cognitive problems like depression, anxiety, fear, anger, guilt etc.. Therefore, it is essential to address this topic in your business and drive initiatives that promote a diverse, inclusive and healthy company culture.

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