It’s National Stress Awareness Day, which means it’s an opportunity for people to take stock of their stress levels, while employers also have a duty of care to ensure that their employees feel supported through a genuine support system that walks the talk
Just a few weeks ago, World Mental Health Day took place on Thursday 10th October. Arranged by the World Health Organization (WHO) on the same date each year, the campaign is designed to amplify the conversation around mental wellbeing and 2019 had a specific focus on suicide prevention.
WHO developed video guides for emergency workers, teachers and employers in a bid to provide insights on how to help those struggling. Given the rigours of modern working and the always-on culture, employers were advised: “Being at work can be good for mental health but the increasing pressures of work can be stressful. A difficult work environment or ongoing work-related stresses can worsen the mental health of employees.”
The video went on to detail just how bosses and companies can help make working environments more inviting and reassuring, rather than places to dread. “Employers and managers have an important role to play in looking out for the mental health of their staff. They can help create a culture where people feel safe to talk about their mental health and to seek help.”
Unbeknownst to us, one of our directors, Nicky, and our office manager, Lucy, had been cooking up a little surprise for us in keeping with World Mental Health Day.
The afternoon before, Nicky said: “As some of you will know, tomorrow is World Mental Health Day. Our mental health is as vital to our wellbeing as our physical health. FieldHouse is absolutely committed to helping you help yourselves and doing our bit to support your mental health as much as possible.”
Nicky reinforced the fact that she is always available to talk to but, if not her, then it’s important to speak with someone to offload, adding the Mind website is also an invaluable resource. On top of that, it was then revealed that a masseuse would be in for the entirety of World Mental Health Day to give each and every person in the office a 15-minute massage, providing the chance to breathe.
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Safe to say this was a pleasant surprise. As it’s World Mental Health Day, work booked a masseuse to come into the office to give everyone a massage. But it was more than that; in their words, it was a chance to really breathe and take some time out. The notion of my last job providing anything like this, or giving a damn about wellbeing generally, is laughable. So I’m beyond grateful to be working somewhere like this now. I got told off for training without stretching, which might seem minor, but look closer – it just highlights how easy it is to think you’re looking after yourself when you’re actually not doing all you can. With kids especially it’s not necessarily easy, but there’s no question that it’s essential (particularly when they don’t want to do as they’re told 🙄) to get that self-care in when you can, so here’s a lickle reminder 💆🏾♂️ #DADultLife #WorldMentalHealthDay #FamilyManFit #MassageTime #SelfCareTime #dadblog #daddyblogger #dadbloggers #dadlife #lifeofdad #dadlife #worldmentalhealthday2019 #workingonmyfitness #feelgoodphoto #massages #rubdown #dadbod #dadbods #fitparents #fitdaddy #lookafteryourself #lookafteryou #lookafteryourbody #metime #ukparentbloggers #pbloggers #parentbloggers
Now, Wednesday 6th November is upon us and it’s National Stress Awareness Day – always the first Wednesday of November – an event championed by Mind. Meanwhile, the International Stress Management Association (ISMA) UK is in the midst of what it calls International Stress Awareness Week. ISMA UK chair Carole Spiers detailed: “Our aim is to keep stress, mental health and wellbeing high on the national agenda.”
Mind emphasises that pressure is a normal part of life. But, if left unchecked, this is where mental health issues can arise. “National Stress Awareness Day is a great opportunity to take a moment to think about our wellbeing and find advice or support on managing stress,” the Mind website reads. “For us to maintain our wellbeing, noticing what’s making us stressed helps us learn how we can deal with it. This is particularly important in the workplace where stresses of workload and working relationships are common.”
Indeed, according a 2019 Health and Safety Executive study, 602,000 workers were found to be suffering from work-related stress, depression or anxiety across last year and this year. This resulted in 12.8 million lost working days, while the main causes of stress were said to be the amount of work, a poor level of support and even violence, threats and bullying at work.
As such, Mind has called on employers to pull their weight and produce a Stress Awareness Space – somewhere that staff can share where their heads are at; anonymously if they wish to do so. There are downloadable cards to fill in available on the website, which can be added to a space in the workplace for team members to fill in and detail what they do to manage stress. Our own space at FieldHouse has been created in the kitchen, for example (as seen in the image atop the page).
Of course, founders also run the risk of suffering from struggles such as depression and anxiety too, which can understandably be brought on by the pressures of putting everything on the line to succeed with their own ventures. This is simply a recipe for burnout. Accounting software provider FreeAgent surveyed 700 small business owners and found that 8% admitted to working more than 64 hours in a week and 13% rarely or never worked in the evenings. Unsurprisingly, 53% admitted to feelings of burning out from overworking.
Just look at Ollie Forsyth. “I used to get incredibly stressed about small things,” he recently shared, reflecting on his mental health. “But I’ve learnt.” Sleep deprived and physically sick, Forsyth finally sought a change of scenery and jetted off to disconnect from the world for a while.
For startups, who have the ability to make internal changes at the drop of a hat, it’s a good opportunity to really listen to what the team has to say. And, if feasible, embed some of those suggestions within the company. Admittedly, we think we have quite a good support system in place already here at FieldHouse, and many startups probably feel well quipped too. But by no means do we know it all, which is why we’re willing to listen. And listening is the first step.