As we prepare for a return to work or physical workspaces with physical distancing requirements being eased, the impacts on our mental health will continue for some time. It is vital to be aware that many employees, colleagues and peers may be struggling. One of the troubling impacts of the COVID 19 epidemic on mental health is the increased risk of suicide. Raising mental health awareness is one of the tools we can each use and includes understanding the risks factors for poor mental health as well as knowing the signs.
We know the factors which protect our mental health are:
- social support and connection
- meaningful activity
- maintaining a healthy lifestyle
- rest and relaxation
- a reliable source of income
- and problem-solving skills.
Risk factors that can contribute to poor mental health:
- an increase in drug and alcohol use
- family history of mental illness
- history of trauma
- chronic or ongoing stress
- loss of long-term relationship or person
- social isolation not just physical isolation
- financial stress
- and poor physical health.
Signs that someone may be struggling:
- dramatic changes in behaviour, mood or attitude
- increased feelings of anxiety or depression
- expressing thoughts of helplessness, hopelessness or worthlessness.
Many people find it difficult to talk about mental health with someone they are concerned about – and this is normal. It is natural for people to fear saying the wrong thing or making things worse. However, ignoring mental health issues won't make them go away. Having a conversation and expressing concern is vital.