It is estimated that nearly half of the Australian population will experience a mental health difficulty at some point during their lifetime. So whatever your background, industry you are in or organisation big or small – this means that you are very likely to either know someone in your workplace, immediate or extended family, or friends network who has a mental health condition or experience a mental health difficulty yourself.  

Whilst recent times has seen increased awareness and dialogue about mental health conditions, unfoMental health in the workplacertunately mental health issues are still often feared and misunderstood in the workplace. However, we can reduce this stigma through learning more about it and challenging common mental health myths.  

A mental health condition is an illness which significantly and persistently affects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves. These patterns of thoughts, feelings, and behaviours typically have a negative impact on a person’s overall health and happiness, and capacity to function in day-to-day life. Depression and anxiety are examples of a mental health condition. We can think of mental health conditions being like any other health issue such as diabetes or heart disease, and understand that it is real and treatable. Mental health conditions have both physical symptoms such as “being tired” or “having a headache”, and psychological symptoms such as feeling “down” or “worried”.

A common myth is that individuals with a mental health condition just need to learn better coping skills. When an individual is struggling with their mental health, it is not as simple as just getting better at managing stress. Learning coping skills and implementing other psychological and life style strategies usually forms part of an effective treatment and management solution and has been shown to significantly assist individuals with mental health conditions. However, it is not helpful to dismiss the issue as “just learn better coping skills”.   

Unfortunately, many people still query if mental health conditions are real, and think “don’t people just need to pull themselves together and get over it?”. The fact is that mental health conditions are a group of real illnesses that are medically recognised. Uninformed and dismissive attitudes towards mental health conditions continue to perpetuate the mental health stigma in the workplace.

If you or someone you know needs help contact your organisation´s Employee Assistance Program (EAP), speak with your GP (you can find a GP using search or call LifeLine on 13 11 14; Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800; MensLine Australia on 1300 789 978; Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467

This article was provided by The Mental Health Project.

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