Mark Newey explains why re-programming our minds to understand how to look after our mental health is essential.
There is no doubt that anxiety levels rise as we go into a second lockdown and our day-to-day routines are dismantled once more. Anxiety is a natural function of the human system: it’s telling us to change something in our life that’s not working for us, but in this instance, we have to live with fear of the unknown and that’s hard, especially if our resilience is low.
Mental health was already a growing epidemic before the pandemic hit. I in 6 of us is struggling with stress, anxiety or depression in any one week. Sadly, 75% of people with mental health issues don’t get access to treatment.
Anxiety levels between 20- 20 March 2020 at the beginning of the first lockdown, increased markedly with 49.6% of people reporting high anxiety. But six weeks later between 30 April – 10 May 202) this had dropped to 37%.
Human beings are task masters at adaptation, so we will learn to cope once again. But is coping enough and are employers supporting their employees sufficiently through these tricky times? Many, on reflection, saw the first lockdown as a time they could reflect upon their lives and make change.
Mental wellness education gives us these tools: understanding how our minds and our emotions work, how and why we create stress, anxiety and depression and what to do about them.
Perhaps during the second lockdown we could change our thinking and learn to thrive?
The problem with the modern approach to mental health is that we wait until somebody has a problem, and because of the stigma, things have to get pretty bad before a member of staff will put their hands up and ask for help. In fact, one in five employees are afraid of disclosing their mental health problems to their employers due to the perceived risk of jeopardising their career.
The first lockdown gave us the time to reflect on our lives pre-lockdown and most of us realised how toxic modern life had become: too fast, too loud, too pressurised, too disconnected. We were forced to slow our lives down and focus on the simple things like building a new routine, cooking from scratch and going out for a walk.
We also realised how important our connection with other people was – not only family and friends, but also those with whom we spend 65% of our waking life: our colleagues.
Loneliness is a huge contributor to mental health issues and the nature of work during lockdown, whether homeworking or the non-contact office environment, will see a large increase in loneliness amongst employees. We need to be making a concerted effort to keep contact levels going.
Employers must encourage their staff to repeat all of these positive changes again to take care of themselves. But employers, could also use this lockdown as an opportunity to really get to grips with the mental health crisis, which is no doubt adversely affecting their organisation. They could promote mental wellness education to their staff.
What is mental wellness education?
Mental wellness education provides a transformational journey of self-discovery to find out who we are ‘behind the mask’, to let go of the things that are holding us back (including stress, anxiety and depression) and to become self-empowered to live a life of purpose, connection and authenticity.
The crucial factor in staying mentally well through the pandemic will be knowing how to. Mental wellness education gives us these tools: understanding how our minds and our emotions work, how and why we create stress, anxiety and depression and what to do about them.
There are five platforms to mental wellness education:
- Self-Awareness: since 91% of our mind and how we create our reality is unconscious, we need to explore the negative programmes and limiting beliefs that we are running in the background.
- Self-Esteem: we have been brought up to worry what everybody thinks about us, which is disempowering and sends us into self-doubt. Being comfortable with who we are has a profound effect on our happiness.
- Authenticity: when we have self-esteem, we can drop the mask that we all wear to impress others and just be ourselves.
- Life Vision: we spend most of our waking life at work, so it’s essential that we do something that we enjoy and makes us happy.
- Self-Empowerment: Having the first four platforms in place means that we can be access our inner strength and be the leaders in our own lives.
Mental health problems cost the UK economy an estimated £70-100bn each year and account for 4.5% of GDP. The second lockdown is therefore the ideal time to assist employees through mental wellness education, particularly as it can be delivered online.
About the author
Mark Newey is the founder of Headucate.