Improve mental health.


Many of us want to improve mental health in our workplace or our lives, but who’s willing to stand up and go first?


The latest ABS figures state that 17.5% of people in Australia have symptoms of poor mental health. That’s almost 1 in 5 people. Perhaps not enough to be diagnosed, but enough to affect them and/or their performance. This is why whenever I run workshops, presentations, coach, or speak, I have one goal in mind. To improve mental health for at least 1 in 5.

Recently I gave a presentation to a group who worked in an overly regulated capacity. I was speaking to them about how they could become aware of, and identify signs of poor mental health amongst their work mates. The end goal being to better equip these folks with the skills to improve the current state of mental health in their workplace.

The challenge.

At the end of the session, I opened the room to an unstructured Q&A. Their questions revolved around overcoming challenges they felt were hindering their efforts to improve mental health.  They believed what stood between them and their goal was some form of person or people or department or structure or resource or equipment that they felt useless without. But this is simply not true.

Let’s take the workplace theme out of this for a moment, and speak generally about how we improve mental health. Because it’s not about work or business or companies or jobs. It’s about people. That’s why I’d like to encourage you to seriously consider my next statement. To begin to improve mental health is easy. It is not complicated. It takes minimum effort. You can start today.

Size doesn’t matter.

Yes, it’s true that to improve mental health on a large scale is a multi-layered and complex task. The facets, the initiatives, the funding, the organisational and reporting structure. Holy cow what a mountain! But guess what? People are already climbing that mountain, and they started at the bottom. The challenges to improve mental health are only as complex as you imagine them. And like any challenge, if we team up, they’re easier to overcome.

But what about the question of where to start? Again, the answer is equally simple. Start with you and those around you. If you improve mental health within your own life-circle, the impact that has on those around you is infectious. Want proof? Spend some time with people who see the positives more often than the negatives. Their presence is often enough to lift the mood of everyone around them. I call this effect ‘mindset by association’. This is not new, it’s been a thing for decades. But I don’t believe we do enough of it.

The care-factor.

One of the simplest things we can all do to improve mental health is show we care. It doesn’t have to be some sort of huge group hug, love-fest, personal space invading kind of action. How about we just give a damn about those around us? That neighbour of yours you always see but only ever nod to, maybe say g’day for 5 minutes next time you meet? Or what about that person at work, the one who seems silently tucked away doing whatever it is they do. Say hi and find out their name at least? Simple things, easy things, minimum effort, a little care shown, and who knows whose day you may have brightened.

There’s also a bonus to showing some simple care and support. It’s been proven to improve your own mood and mental health. A little act of kindness can go long way. Kind of like a two for one deal, everyone wins!

To improve mental health, start simple. And what these simple things need, is someone to go first. If you manage to wind up in front of person that’s a member of the 1 in 5 club, the chances of your simple act of care brightening their day are pretty damn good. Great way to start chipping away at that mountain yeah?

The will to go first.

And if you’re not convinced that something simple can have a huge impact, think about the RUOK? message. One simple question has the potential to start a conversation, that could save a life.

So, over to you. Show you care, be willing to go first. If you want to improve mental health in your world and the world of those around you, what simple act can you do?