July 24, 2014

Grant project blog about dispelling mental health myths in the workplaceIt may seem that the title could not be much further from a blog about mental health, but I am part of a project that wants people to start bringing them together.

Dispelling mental health myths in the workplace

I currently volunteer with Brighton and Hove's Mind on a project in association with Time to Change - 'Dispelling Mental Health Myths in the Workplace'. Myself, and other volunteers who have experiences of mental health issues are visiting businesses with an aim to get people talking. 'Simples', as a furry meerkat who likes to wear dressing gowns would say.

Well, it sounds simple, but due to the continuing stigma and discrimination which is wrongly coupled with having a mental health issue, talking about the subject can suddenly seem as daunting as getting naked in front of a large room of judgmental people.
'Will they stop speaking to me if they don't like what they see?', 'Will they laugh?', 'I don't want to feel, or be treated any differently'.
These are the worries that we want to try and eradicate by dispelling some of the myths that people hold about others who experience mental health problems.

The more honest and open I was, the more people told me they felt the same

I personally had a brilliant experience when I became open with my manager about my increasing anxiety issues. This, in turn, positively 'spread the love' around the entire workplace (although small) where I found that the more honest and open I was, the more people felt that they could tell me 'I've felt the same!'. However, this is sadly not the experience of many others who are having troubles in dealing with their mental health.

My message, and the one which is shared by all of the volunteers involved with the project, is to talk. Talk about mental health. Ask someone how they are. Talk to people about their mental health just as you would about their broken leg, arthritis or cancer.

Our health and well-being is one large multi-sectional ball that we all carry around with us and deal with every day. It should not be split into two categories with one being 'scary' and the other involved in typical 'tea time chat'. Having a mental health problem does not make you an alien who might explode at any time.

Ask somebody how they are today. As cliche as it sounds, It really can change their life.

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