World mental health day is on Wednesday, October 10 and the theme this year is supporting good mental health in the workplace.
In recent months the importance of mental first aiders has been a hot topic, hoping to catch the warning signs before it gets too much.
Anna Williamson is a television presenter, radio broadcaster, life coach, counsellor, Master NLP practitioner and author who had a breakdown at work while presenting a children’s show on ITV.
“It was very public,” she said. “I felt very exposed as crying at work in front of all your colleagues is never a nice feeling.
“However it was exactly what I needed, and everybody else needed to see that I wasn’t coping and I needed a rest and some help.
“In the end it was actually a positive experience for me as I went to see a doctor, had some therapy and medication to help sort out my issues and I was able to return to work feeling much stronger, happier and healthier.”
Now through her counselling and life coaching she is hoping to help others in spotting the signs.
“Watch out for somebody who is perhaps coming into work later than usual or equally coming in even earlier by way of trying to keep up with their work demands,” she explained.
“Consistent behaviour of either extremes can be a sign that somebody isn’t coping.
“Visibly upset or stressed, irritable, withdrawn and struggling to meet deadlines is also another huge sign that somebody needs some work TLC.”
The most common mental health illness she says is anxiety disorder due to the number of factors which can attribute to this including work/life balance, relationships struggles and financial pressures.
“Social media and constantly being online 24/7 has also contributed in a big way,” said Anna.
“Social media is equally a good thing and a bad thing. In measured use social media can be a great way to communicate and catch up with people you might otherwise never normally see.
“However when it becomes too habitual, and overtakes everything else in your life, gives a distorted view of life, and affects actual face-to-face relationships and feelings, that is a sign we need to perhaps step back.”
Communication is key when it comes to mental health issues and Anna says this is usually the first hiccup as we don’t communicate to our colleagues or bosses how we are feeling.
“When we are really not enjoying our work consistently, and if our behaviour is starting to change in a negative way, that is when it can become a problem.”
For tips on ways to cope Anna says about turning off all technology for at least an hour each day.
“Always ensure you build in down time like you would any other work meeting, your health is paramount,” she added.
“After all, if you’re not well, you can’t work. Also, don’t hold in any niggles or worries. They only fester and get worse, so find somebody you trust to have a good old chat and off load to.”
For information and support you can visit mental health charity Mind’s website - mind.org.uk
Anna Williamson: Mind Coach, TV Presenter and Brand Ambassador for the Emotional Wellbeing DNA Test, £199 at www.dnaplan.co.uk Get 10 per cent off using the code WELLBEING