Updated: Oct 11
Perhaps World Mental Health Day has never been so important.
I write with a desire to celebrate mental wellbeing in the world today yet I have a mixed and heavy heart. For some people working from home they are undoubtedly feeling better about themselves since the lockdowns began, in theory have more time for themselves and their family, if only due to the removal of daily the commute to work (in practice that time can easily be snapped up by starting work earlier and finishing later). In short, there are undoubtedly more people who are mentally well in the uk, and on this planet, than not, so that is something to be grateful for!
However, Mental Health professionals and organizations are telling us that we're on the verge of the mental health damn busting.
After all it has undoubtedly been a trying time for our collective mental health from coronavirus to social distancing, bringing fear and isolation, to racial unrest, all of which was an intermission to the never ending brexit divides and now recession. Its not surprising then, with all that’s gone on, even people who may have never struggled with mental health issues like anxiety before are dealing with them now.
Human beings are naturally social beings and normal life operates in a way that serves to brings us together either through the market place, through work, shopping, public transport, hobbies, entertainment, sport, friendship, family etc ... for extended to small fragments of time. But these are not normal times. When people spend more time, if not all of their time, at home alone subtle changes in our mental health may not be seen by others as easily, if at all. Locked away in our homes and when hidd en from view ill-health has time to incubate. That is what has been happening with mental ill-health during this pandemic. Not least because we've been moving less, eating worse, drinking more alcohol, lockdown in close proximity with family whether they like it or not and many people have been furloughed, earning money for nothing, only to find on the other side that they're looking for work in a market place that's on the verge of a deep recession. As the competition for jobs rises more people are looking for the same or less jobs in the market and confidence can start to wain along with mental health.
CV library Job's board has undertaken research of 1300 people, of those responded:
57.3% of those responded said that worrying about not being able to find a job has had the biggest impact on their mental health
43.7% of professionals feel their work-life balance is worse than a year ago with a further 61% stating working from home as the main reason for this.
50% of employees aged 25-34 are the most likely to blame remote working, followed by 35-54 (40%) and 55-64 (39.6%).
Nearly three-quarters (72.9%) of the individuals surveyed said that they would look for a new job in order to secure a better work-life balance.
Of the respondents, 50.2% said that they had experienced financial difficulties, since the onset of COVID-19. While, four in 10 or 42.9% of employees said their mental health is worse than it was a year ago.
female workers appear to be suffering more than their male counterparts, 46.9% and 39.9% respectively.
Meanwhile, 36.3% of those surveyed said that worrying about the health and wellbeing of friends and/or family members has caused them to experience poor mental health.
Additionally, 26% named worrying about the spread of coronavirus as their biggest concern.
If these weren't worrying figures enough the Independent today refers to figures released by the Office for National Statistics in July 20, the number of people in the UK affected by depression has risen from one in ten to one in five since the same time last year. Furthermore Consultant psychiatrist Dr Natasha Bijlani (Priory hospital in Roehampton, London) says they've never been busier than in the last few weeks of lockdown. “It’s really sad to see how many people who wouldn’t otherwise be coming to someone like me are [now] feeling the need to seek support.”
If you're one of these type of individuals you may be interested in finding out to what extent this is a situational and reactive mental health decline that stems from either negative stress or traumatic stress and/or a lack of eustress in you're life. Unless we pay attention to our body's basic needs for good nutrition, positive mood, fitness and good quality rest we could end up grinding our body into a state of vulnerability that leaves us wide open to an unexpected deep stress response. That comes in many forms, one of them being mental health decline.
Being aware of and keeping up with your lifestyles pillars is essential if you want to weather the storm and remain in tip top shape ... so you can keep going as your resourceful you until you get that interview and be ready to make the most of that interview opportunity. Download and complete the attached Lifestyle Pillars journal template or you can downlaod the NeuroSelfCare app on IOS or Android (further information can be found here www.turnoveranewleaf.co.uk/neuroselfcare)
Not taking this approach leaves our mind being at risk interpreting this stressful time as an encoded trauma. The criteria for an encoded trauma is EMLI:
1. threatening Event ie loss of job and worry about how the bills will be paid 2. Meaning: a perception of having lost something so dear to them status, reputation, income (and potentially home) 3. vulnerable inner landscape ie low on the lifestyle pillars 4. Inescapability a perception of feeling trapped in a hopeless situation. When this criteria are met our amygdala is informed and biologically updated with a warning for us to be extra cautious but that can result in anxiety and if that becomes too overwhelmed can turn into depression. All of which increases vulnerability further and can result in a spiraling. Not helpful at all if your looking for a job!
So what is the solution? Havening Techniques is a resilience building tool that can help people bring their amygdala back into a state of balance. It helps to quickly and efficiently let go of encoded trauma ... you can find out more about it her www.turnoveranewleaf.co.uk/havening2
As for those people who had a diagnosed mental health condition before and have still got it. Some are actually grateful as more people are now finding life as hard as they are, albeit in different ways, which somewhat makes life feel easier. For the really sick, mental health wise, these people have been hiding behind closed doors, creating a sense of calm before the storm, and the British Association for Social Workers is concerned that the flood gates have started opening and theres a concern there may not be enough resources to meet demand.
So for all these reasons I would call this a topsy turvy World Mental Health Day.