The invisible killer: looking after your mental health

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In a career where your skills, expertise and passion are relied upon to provide care to those who need it most it is easy to overlook the support you need to help you perform at your best.

According to the Health Foundation, more than 430,000 people in England completed therapies for conditions such as depression in the first nine months of 2016/17 and two thirds of people have reported symptoms of anxiety. Mental health issues including stress, depression and anxiety are a significant factor behind sickness absence at work but many brush aside doubts of these concerns as ‘the norm’. Often described as the invisible killer, it is important that you regularly review the state of your mental health and ensure that you are not ignoring symptoms, however mild, that could grow to become larger issues.

You are not weak if you are mentally unwell

In fact the words ‘mentally unwell’ are difficult to define. Mental illnesses can range from affecting your day to day life mildly or strongly, it could come and go depending on the situation and it could be temporary, only staying for phases of your life. What is important to understand is that it is not a sign of weakness if you need to ask for help. Many are not aware that a lot of people suffer from a mental ailment to some extent.

Work-life balance and its impact on your mental health

With pressures rising within the health and social care sector and understaffing issues being a continuous challenge, never has it been been more important to look after yourself. The good news is that a few simple steps could improve your quality of life drastically. Below are some tips to help your work-life balance: 

Keeping in touch with friends and family

One of the first things people do when they are suffering from mental health issues is cut off their family and friends. Less leisure time in a constantly switched-on tech-driven environment does not help with this. But keep the communication going and ensure that you don’t shrug it off as  ‘optional’ and you will start noticing a difference. You don’t have to dedicate a day to go see someone face-to-face, a quick text could make someone else’s day while helping you to stay grounded too.

Taking breaks

The importance of a simple change of scenery should not be underestimated. Sometimes doing the same role, day in and out, can take a negative toll on your health. We fool ourselves into thinking that we don’t have time for breaks but do we have time to continue working unproductively only to eventually burn out? The answer is no so don’t forget to take a break, be it a five minute rest meditating or a longer break to visit that friend you have been meaning to catch up with for weeks!

Asking for help

Don’t suffer in silence because chances are, someone else will have undergone symptoms of what you are going through too. Sometimes we are hesitant in confiding in someone but it can do a whole world of good. If you feel there is nobody in your family or social circle you are able to confide in, then there are plenty of other people you could potentially speak to. From support groups to counsellors to your local GP, your support network is bigger than you may think.