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Mental health and the barriers to employment.

Since the pandemic, the world has come to realise that mental health is unavoidable. Even if this doesn’t categorise you, keep reading, because mental health impacts everyone.

Turning a blind eye isn’t going to make a difference. Therefore, knowledge is power, ignorance isn’t bliss, education is key.

Having mental health interventions within the workplace aims to prevent exposure to risks that could lead to a negative impact on mental health. If a workplace provides optimal working environments, for example flexible work hours and an employee assistance programme, it reduces the impact of an ongoing mental health condition.

However, I understand that mental health can be a barrier into employment. A change in structure can be overwhelming and taking a leap can seem uncomfortable. Despite this, DiversitUK are here to help those who are often forgotten about in society get access to the resources and support they need.

Despite this being a topic that many still find difficult or uncomfortable to talk about, experiencing mental health issues is becoming increasingly common.

A lot of people who are unemployed have higher levels of anxiety and depression, loss of behavioural/emotional control, psychological distress and fewer emotional ties and life satisfaction.

Good mental health is a key influence on employability, finding a job and remaining in that job. Being unemployed causes stress, which has long-term physiological health effects and can have a negative impact on people’s mental health, causing depression, anxiety and lower self-esteem.

One of the main concerns of those suffering with mental health is change. I know from first-hand experience the routine you have created for yourself is comfortable. You may not feel that way every day, it could be a struggle and I do not deny you that. However, those who are out of work for more than 6 months are more likely to suffer chronic depression, something I have personally struggled with for years. It’s a warm comfort blanket that allows you to believe you are safer doing very little to nothing rather than something.

The worry of the unknown is removed because you are in the comfort of those same 4 walls. No effort needs to be given, no forced conversation needs to be had, your mind seems less noisy the more you step away from society. That nausea you’re feeling in the pit of your stomach can be whatever you make it, scared for the what if’s or excited for what could be.

What if I was to tell you that life could be far more than that. You can be ambitious, creative, well respected and needed. These emotions that I feel from my place of work give me motivation to get out of bed each day. The responsibility of a task not being completed unless I do it, is not a burden but a reason. The feeling of having a voice when you bounce ideas around the room, that infectious creative energy is addictive. The warm smiles from colleagues as you step into a room, hearing wild stories from the weekend before or first milestones of close staff member’s children. A sense of belonging, needed and wanted.

A reason to live a more fulfilling life. Taking control of your frustrations and even adapting your perspective can significantly improve your mood and outlook on your job. We understand things may not be as easy as ‘flicking a switch’ but we can offer some advice.

Mental health matters.

Where possible, consider looking into work schedule adaptations. What is the schedule or routine that better suits your mental health and wellbeing? Ask yourself: would you feel more focused if you started work earlier in the day and finished earlier than 5pm? Do you feel more comfortable when working in an open environment such as a coffee shop? Or a co-working space with a team? There are changes that can be made to give a greater sense of balance in your life.

Breathing exercises are a great way to reduce stress and reflect on how you’re feeling. Not only do they help you to collect your thoughts, but they also help to release any tension you are holding. Not to mention calm down your nervous system. Breathing exercises can easily fit into your work schedule as you can do them any time and from anywhere – your desk, the bathroom, by the coffee machine or on public transport. Taking a minute to calm yourself can work wonders when tasks are becoming too overwhelming.

Nature is powerful – Spend your breaks or days off wisely. Use this time to recharge, those who suffer with mental health issues can feel fatigue more so than others. Sometimes a conversation can be exhausting, but nothing quite compares to filling your lungs with nature’s air and taking some time out. Clear your mind by walking, jogging, running, sprinting. Whatever works for you, but in order for your body to benefit, you must try.  

Try to manage your responsibilities and worries by making a list or a schedule of when you can resolve each issue. Often, if you break down your worries write them down, you realise that they are manageable. Try to avoid burying your head in the sand, and tackle problems head on. If you find you are having trouble sleeping or are waking up thinking about all of the things that are stressing you out, write them down and reassure yourself that you can deal with them in the morning.

Everyone is human. We all go through different challenges in life and the best thing we can do is support one another. Check in on your family and friends, we all need to cut ourselves some slack sometimes and be mindful of each other. If we do that, I am sure we can all get through this together.