Breaking the stigma - Mental Health Awareness Week 2023

Mental Health Awareness Week runs from 15 to 21 May 2023. This year, the charity Mind is focusing on the impact that the cost of living crisis is having on our mental health.

There are many ways an employer or employee can get involved with supporting Mental Health Awareness Week whether it’s developing a webinar, posting a blog on mental health or by arranging a social get-together at work.

The cost of living crisis with rising food bills and energy costs can take its toll and for many families, there may be only one wage earner. Signs of a person experiencing mental health issues are not always obvious and are even more difficult to spot if an issue is being bottled up. Some signs might be lateness to work, sickness or change in behaviour, less interest in work or looking anxious or upset.

Mental health issues come in many shapes and forms and for some people, this might be eventually overcome either independently or with support. Mental health and anxiety may arise as a result of a personal issue such as the loss of a relationship, a loved one or divorce and financial issues.

Mental health can also impact physical health and relate to symptoms that can change a person socially as well. Mental Health First Aiders in companies are there to support colleagues in the workplace with respect and confidence.

Mindful and nature-based activities can help mental and physical health and include yoga, walking or cycling. Spending time outdoors can be very good for mental health. When feeling stressed or anxious, one of the things that increase is your cortisol level, your stress hormone, and going outside or taking some breathing exercises can help this go down.

Cortisol affects several aspects of your body and mainly helps regulate your body’s response to stress. A change of scene can help change a low mood. Sport can also help build back physical health and restore mental health – it need not involve too much exertion. Gentle exercises such as hatha yoga help with relaxation and breathing.

With depression or low mood, serotonin levels drop but going outdoors and being present in nature or being mindful can help increase serotonin.

This is a guest blog and therefore does not necessarily represent the views of the Institute of Directors.

About the author

Emma Nicholson

Principal Sustainability Project Manager at Pick Everard

Emma Nicholson is the Principal Sustainability Project Manager at Pick Everard. Emma champions greater diversity and inclusion in her role at Pick Everard, a national multi-disciplinary consultancy working within the property, infrastructure and construction industry. She is a member of the Institute of Directors and a Diversity and Inclusion Ambassador for Yorkshire and the North East.

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