Category Archives: Mental Health Awareness

Should you disclose Mental Health issues at work?

Statistics are showing that more people than ever before are struggling with their mental health at the moment. The pressures of a global pandemic, lockdowns lifting and lowering, employment uncertain and family members lost or sick, it’s all taken a toll.

That toll sees people battling depression, anxiety, an increase in eating disorders or behavioural issues, the usual balance between our routines and our emotional needs disrupted with an uncertain end point.

It’s been traumatic, and challenging, and it’s no surprise that so many are battling their demons – some for the first time, others in a way they’d perhaps already worked hard to beat, and the slide back into a darker frame of mind can feel like a failure when you’ve been doing so well for so long.

Paper man surrounded by Coronavirus and economy news headlines

There is no shame in battling your mental health – there is no shame in admitting that you need support, and in reaching out for it. In taking time for yourself and your own needs, rather than constantly being on the go or giving your energy to others around you.

Or, rather, there should be no shame. But for many people, there still is. The stigma around mental health issues is still prevalent in many environments – and the place where that’s the biggest concern is in the workplace.

Though employers legally can’t challenge or dismiss their staff for needing mental health support, many still feel that disclosing mental health issues will impact their future in the role, or risk them losing their position, prevent their path to promotion or negatively impact the potential they had with the company.

You aren’t legally obliged to disclose any mental health considerations to your employer – but, if you do find that you are discriminated against at a later date, it is important to have evidence that they knew and have used that knowledge to negatively impact your employment.

The Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance have created a very useful pros and cons document for whether or not you should disclose any mental health issues to employers; I know that it is deeply personal, and something you can only decide when you weigh up your own personal circumstances.

No matter what those circumstances are, the more of us who speak openly, honestly and powerfully about our experiences, the challenges we face and any mental health issues which have impacted our lives, the easier it becomes to do so. This means we benefit ourselves, able to relieve some of the pressure, and gain support from those around us. It also means we help others who may be struggling alone to see that it is more common than they thought, and that they can access and deserve help and support too.

That help and support comes in many forms – and your employer can, and should, help you to access some of them, whether through their own internal support or by allowing you to work more flexibly so that you can access support more readily.

If you are seeking one-to-one support, and you are looking for a Counsellor who can help you to work through the challenges you’re currently facing, or moving beyond past trauma or mental health concerns which are limiting your life today, please reach out to me; I can help you to leave that weight behind, and step into your best future with confidence.

You can contact me through this website, through FacebookLinkedIn or email on amandaburbidge-counselling@outlook.com, or call me on 07849 037095 – you can also message or call via WhatsApp on the same number, and I offer video sessions for those who are still unable to meet in person.

 

May Mental Health Awareness: ideas and resources

Mental health awareness is something you know I’m passionate about – and I work in this area because I know that finding the right support and being able to speak about and move through, and past, our traumatic and life altering experiences is absolutely vital if we are to have any chance of recovering and being the happiest, most successful we can be.

May is a time when people are raising awareness and funds for various mental health causes – and you’ll see a lot of activity on your social media channels and in the news, on TV shows and in your community, focussing on various mental health conversations.

If you’re at a bit of a loss for ideas, but want to do your bit to raise awareness, share your own story, or support others with the challenges they face, I have brought some ideas and references together here to help you get off on the right foot.

May Action for Happiness

I share the action for happiness calendar every month, and as always May’s is full of lovely small, mindful ways to bring smiles – to your own face and to those of the people around you.

Mental health Foundation:

Lots of ideas for community, workplace and school activities are collated here – they have packs and downloadable content, so you can pull together your own activities, whether it’s a charity walk, a bake sale, a community outreach or something small scale with your family and friends.

https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/campaigns/mental-health-awareness-week/get-involved/ideas

Their take action, get active campaign is one I think is going to be particularly popular – I know the weather has been a little hit and miss in the past few days, but you know what they say: there’s no such thing as the wrong weather – just the wrong clothes! Rain or shine, kit yourself out and get active – it won’t just help the cause, it will benefit you enormously getting some endorphins and fresh air, and you’ll feel far better for moving your body, especially if it’s the last thing you want to do!

https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/events/take-action-get-active

Mind have mapped out May 10th to 16th as their Mental Health Awareness Week, and you can donate, raise funds, share your own story and bring attention to their work – again, they’ve got downloadable content and packs to get you started:

https://www.mind.org.uk/get-involved/mental-health-awareness-week/

Perhaps things this public and organised aren’t your style – it might be more your thing to stay home, spend some time pondering your experiences; maybe put some energy into creating some art or craft work which you find relaxing and soothing. Use art as therapy, and get some bigger feelings out on canvas. Write some poetry or a story; not necessarily of your own life, but that can help hugely when you’re processing things. Journaling and scrapbooking are brilliant ways of remembering the things you have been enjoying and are looking forward to, and of keeping a record of your days.

If you aren’t sure where to start with that, sometimes I find prompts are a good beginning point: here are some suggestions you can use to journal, to create art, just to think about:

https://bulletjournalideas.com/bullet-journal-ideas-for-mental-health/

If you just want to keep track of your progress through a challenging time and focus on your mental health here are some smaller suggestions you can use to do so more quietly:

https://www.buzzfeed.com/annaborges/mental-health-trackers

I wrote an article about mental health awareness and the worrying growth of ‘toxic positivity’ – particularly on social media – which you can read here

Remember: your mental health is your experience – and sharing it, or choosing not to, is entirely a personal choice – but if you are struggling please remember that you don’t have to do that alone.

Reach out for support, and let me help you to process your challenges, to move through and past the hurt that you’re experiencing, and to build yourself into the whole, happy and content person you deserve to be, leaving your trauma and worry behind you as you work through them.

You can contact me through this website, through FacebookLinkedIn or email on amandaburbidge-counselling@outlook.com, or call me on 07849 037095 – you can also message or call via WhatsApp on the same number, and I offer video sessions for those who are still unable to meet in person.

May mental health awareness month: toxic positivity

 

You have probably noticed more conversations around mental health in the media and on social media streams this week. That’s because May is Mental Health Awareness month – and all month (particularly the week of May 10th to 16th in the UK) people are raising funds to support mental health across the UK, and raising awareness with honest, open conversations around the mental health challenges we all face.

There are times when it seems like speaking about mental health is a bit trendy, and buzzwords fly around as people remind each other to be kind, to be mindful and to focus on their positives – but I’ve noticed, especially speaking with clients, that this relentless positivity can actually become very toxic too.

Toxic positivity seems like a contradiction; how can being positive be bad?

Let’s dive into that; what do I mean by toxic positivity?

It is the belief that people should put a positive spin on all experiences, even those that are profoundly tragic. Toxic positivity can silence negative emotions, demean grief, and make people feel under pressure to pretend to be happy even when they are struggling. In some cases, it may be self-imposed.

  • Medical News Today, March 2021

Basically, in pushing people to ‘find the silver lining’ in everything, it doesn’t allow us to grieve. To process. To experience and work through pain.

In truth, the only way to truly grow and move past trauma, anxiety and negative experiences is to move through them. Not to skirt them, to bury them, to dismiss them with ‘look on the bright side’ or to cancel them out with ‘focus on the positive things in your life’ – because in reality, the one cannot and does not cancel out the other.

In a month when we are being more open and raising awareness of mental health issues it’s vitally important to recognise that we have all been facing challenges. That we have all been living with stress, worry, fear. That many have lost people – lost loved ones or colleagues or neighbours. That our lives changed shape. That, since this time last year, life is not the way it was. And that it’s ok to say that absolutely sucks. It’s crap. It’s painful, difficult, utter rubbish.

We don’t have to just accept that it is different without feeling all of our feelings about that.

Living through historical events means we have stories to tell; stories which shape us. It means that, in years to come, those who follow us will have questions and we will know the answers, because we were there.

But right now we are here – and here isn’t always that great.

So please, when someone speaks to you about that, when someone opens up to you, when someone is vulnerable and trying to voice that vulnerability, bite back the temptation to smile and tell them to look on the bright side. Don’t brush off their feelings and point them at happiness. Don’t fall into the toxic positivity trap of always looking for a reason, a solution, a positive slant or something happy to distract from the pain.

Of course it’s important not to wallow – to move through into acceptance and happiness. But it’s just as important to acknowledge the hurt you might feel, to experience it and to understand what the hurt is for, and from, and how you work with it to heal.

There are so many ways to speak about your mental health; support groups, supportive friends and family, social media where you can perhaps find others who feel the same and speak with them about your shared experiences. It isn’t something we need to face alone, isolated with our pain.

But please don’t feel guilty for seeing the dark side. Don’t berate people, or respond with “others have had it worse” because all that does is add more difficulty onto the already heavy burden some are carrying, and make someone who is vulnerable feel guilty for feeling that way.

If you are looking for somewhere to speak about that burden, and to truly work through your hurt, to understand the root cause of the challenges you’re facing and your own behaviour in response to those challenges, and you’re ready to work through your experiences, you can contact me through this website, through Facebook, LinkedIn or email on amandaburbidge-counselling@outlook.com, or call me on 07849 037095 – you can also message or call via WhatsApp on the same number, and I offer video sessions for those who are still unable to meet in person.