Supporting good mental health in the workplace and beyond
What links a prince, a former England footballer and a celebrity bake off winner? In the last week they have all spoken out about their mental health challenges and the importance of good mental health. Mental health is gaining huge media interest, with news stories coming out each day. Is this increased exposure, leading to a cultural shift in society, taking away the taboo of mental health? Mental health problems are a common issue that many people experience at some point in their lives and noticing the warning signs early on and knowing how to get help can improve people’s quality of life. Mental health problems affect around one in four people in any given year according to a survey carried out by NatCen Social Research and the University of Leicester.
What is Mental Health?
Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social wellbeing; affecting how we think, feel and act. Everybody has mental health, and it is important to look after it, just as we would our physical health. Having positive mental health allows people to:
- Realise their full potential
- Cope with the stresses of life
- Work productively
- Make meaningful contributions to their communities
Mental Health and Physical Activity
The link between physical activity and good mental health has been well studied and documented over the years. The NHS and charity Mind are just two of the organisations who advise that regular physical activity can help improve mental health. Research by ukactive and AoC Sport found that physically active students rated their life satisfaction higher than less active students, reporting higher levels of happiness, increased perception of social inclusion and higher grade expectations. The study also showed that physically active students were 21 per cent less likely to report feeling lonely all the time.
Physical activity can have a range of benefits on mental health, including:
- Happier moods
- Better sleep
- Better self-esteem
- Reducing risk of depression
- Managing stress, anxiety or intrusive thoughts
- Connecting with people and reducing loneliness
Other Ways of Self Care
Physical activity isn’t for everyone and there are other ways in which you can help look after your mental health and making general lifestyle changes can help manage the symptoms of many mental health problems. The New Economics Foundation have published a set of evidence based public health messages aimed at promoting mental health and wellbeing of the UK population. These are called the ‘5 steps to mental wellbeing’.
1) Connect – connecting with the people around you. Evidence shows that good relationships are important for our mental wellbeing.
2) Be active – this doesn’t have to be going to the gym or joining a sports club. Just going for a walk to clear your head can bring a range of benefits. The Telegraph has published a great article of London’s best walks to escape the office.
3) Keep learning – learning new skills can give you a sense of achievement and a new confidence.
4) Give to others – the smallest of acts, from a smile to a thank you, all the way up to volunteering in your community at events such as your local parkrun can improve your mental wellbeing and help build new social networks.
5) Be mindful – being in the present and aware of your thoughts and feelings, your body and the world around you, increases your mindfulness. Becoming more aware of the present moment can help you enjoy the world around you more and understand ourselves better.
There are many charities and organisations out there to offer support and guidance to people suffering with mental health illnesses or to those supporting someone who is suffering. Time to Change have made a list of a variety of support lines who provide individual and emergency support.
Mental Wellbeing at House of Sport
Here at House of Sport we adopted the 5 steps to wellbeing structure to the working week, with a daily spotlight on each element. This created the opportunity to encourage social interaction, physical activity and a more mindful approach to the environment we find ourselves in on a daily basis, all things fundamental in maintaining good mental health. Take a look at some of our highlights from throughout the week.