Mental Health – it’s an expression we hear every day, but what does it actually mean?
It’s often used as a substitute for mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety, but it’s actually much more than that. The World Health Organisation describes mental health as being “a state of well-being in which every individual realises their potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to their community”. So it’s not so much ‘what’s wrong?’, as it is about ‘what’s going well?’.
Mental health isn’t fixed or static, and right here in Australia 1 in 4 young people experience poor mental health wellbeing in any 12-month period. There’s still a lot of stigma around mental health so we don’t talk about it anywhere near as much as we should. But chances are, we or someone close to us has experienced periods of mental health problems.
When we’re talking about mental health in our workplaces, we’re looking at how our working environments affect as, and how our mental health affects our ability to do our jobs. Work can be an amazing way to improve mental health, providing a boost in self-esteem and a sense of purpose. But factors like job stress, bullying or discrimination can trigger or worsen a pre-existing mental health condition.
That’s why employers are obligated by law to provide safe and healthy workplaces for every employee. Workplaces are required to make reasonable adjustments to give every worker a fair and equal chance to complete the requirements of their role. You can also use sick leave for mental health reasons – it’s not just for when you’re a raging snot goblin!
If your boss or anyone you work with is bullying, harassing or making you feel unsafe, it’s not on. You can take it up with your health and safety representative. Otherwise, you can give us a yell at the Young Workers Centre on 1800 714 754.
Headspace: 1800 650 890
Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636
Lifeline: 13 11 14