Today is Time to Talk day 2018, a campaign to highlight that anywhere can be the right place to talk about mental health, including at work.
I’m sick right now… As I type this, I’m on the sofa with a hot lemon drink, paracetamol capsules, and throat spray. I’ve been fighting something off this week – almost certainly passed on by my now-recovering girlfriend (thanks, dear) – and it struck me as a salient point to write a blog post about.
The crux is thus: I was up Monday night with a scratchy throat; on Tuesday I felt like a zombie; by Wednesday I was working from home in a blanket – and I openly kept my colleagues informed throughout the ickiness. I felt comfortable sharing my physical ailments with them. As such, they were understanding, supportive, and offered to take on extra work whilst I recovered. (Side note: thanks guys!)
I imagine that, by and large, everyone reading this has been through a similar process in their working life. We simply understand that people occasionally get sick, and that’s OK. Heck, sometimes we even ask (or demand) that colleagues take time off to recuperate (or avoid spreading it around the office).
Someone sneezes – *Achoo* – we offer a “Bless you”, hand them a tissue, and wish them well.
And yet, when it comes to mental ailments, are we as empathetic? Are we as forthcoming, or understanding, to issues of the mind? I imagine that, by and large, unfortunately we are not.
Those who experience problems are oft inclined to hide them, bury the symptoms and power through the day – which is both an additive burden and ultimately to their longterm detriment. Those around them are either none-the-wiser or, for somewhat similar reasons, afraid to broach the subject with someone they’re concerned about. There is no inadvertent *achoo* from which to act. A closeted “Bless you” perhaps, but no normalised path to a tissue or equivalent.
Now, this juxtaposition has been made thousands of times, and there are hundreds of reasons why it’s often the case… but laid here, lozenges in hand, it struck me as yet another example of something we’re keen to distil within the modern workplace through Unmind.
By making mental health more open, accessible, and approachable within the workplace, I’m hopeful that we can empower the organisation to take a more proactive approach to such issues. (Kudos to the companies who already have!)
I solemnly believe that in the not too distant future those who are struggling with “flare-ups” of any kind – be it a sore throat or spate of anxiety – will have the support, backing and understanding of their colleagues to speak up, lie down, and take the time needed to recover. To do otherwise simply prolongs the issue – which is no good for the individual, their team, or wider business in general.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some #unminding of my own to do…