Mental Health Awareness Week (13-19 May 2019) is a national campaign that is growing in stature in the UK.
Given that mental health is still regarded by many as less important than physical health, it is perhaps astonishing that in the past week alone, one in six adults experienced a common mental health issue. In 2017-18 mental health problems accounted for 15.4 million sick leave days in the UK and around 300,000 people a year leave the workplace because of mental health problems.
Mental health is something PTSG takes extremely seriously. Group Director of Health and Safety, Terry Wilcock, featured in the April edition of PFM magazine to raise mental health as a subject of national importance and to talk about how his team goes about providing help and support for PTSG’s 1,200+ employees.
Terry said: “Mental health is defined as a state of well-being in which every person realises their own potential, it influences how we think and feel about others and ourselves. It has an effect on our capacity to learn, communicate and impacts on our ability to cope with change.
“We have a responsibility to look after our own well-being in addition to our mental health; an increase in the discussion of mental health will, in time, reduce the inequalities experienced by those people who have mental health issues.
“Mental health issues are commonplace within all walks of life; people who have these issues may be more likely to seek professional help if someone close to them suggests it.
“Talking about mental health is about doing the small things: ask someone how they are – this one small step lets someone know that you are thinking about them, which can make a big difference on how that person feels.
“Talk but listen non-judgementally; a person who feels they have been listened to is more likely to accept professional help and information.
“There are many types of support that can help people with mental health illness. Once a person has taken the first step and decided to seek help, they can choose from a number of sources, approaches and services – there is no ‘one stop shop’ approach for mental health.”
As a large employer, PTSG is very keen to share best practice, raising awareness of measures we can all take to help colleagues experiencing a mental health issue. While mental health is far from being a new topic, the approach to providing help is still very much developing, such is people’s reticence in talking about it.
Terry added: “Family and friends, including work colleagues, can be a source of support for a person who has a mental health issue, the same support they would have if the person had a physical illness.
“There are a variety of health professionals who can provide help; for many people who are developing a mental health-related problem, their GP will be the first person they turn to for help. You don’t have to be an expert.”