Self / 05.02.2015

Feeling down at work? It’s #TimeToTalk

By Roisin Dervish-O'Kane
Here's how to battle the office blues like a pro and keep well on the 9 to 5

Dreading the day ahead from the moment your alarm clock buzzes, feeling so on-edge you can’t concentrate or making a routine trip for a little weep in the loos? You’re not alone


The number of mental health problems in the workplace have doubled since 2009, according to new data from the Absence Management Survey by the CIPD (the professional body for HR and people development).

‘It’s now estimated that a massive one in four of us will experience a mental health issue during our working lives,’ says Dr Jill Miller, research adviser at the CIPD. ‘We talk about physical health quite freely, so why can’t we talk about mental health in the workplace?’

Quite right. That’s why we’re supporting Time to Talk day. The premise is simple enough: on 5 February, take one minute to break the awkward silence around mental health. The doing it – especially at work – is more challenging.

That’s why we quizzed Dr Miller to devise a five-point POA for opening up, moving forward and making your working life a whole lot happier.

Step one: Don’t beat yourself up

‘If we look back at what’s happened in the economy over the past five years, it’s perhaps not surprising that we’re seeing more mental health issues. People have been under increased pressure at work with widespread redundancies and pay freezes. In our personal lives we’ve been dealing with rising food and energy bills, while the additional responsibilities we face at home and the major life events we experience also put us under strain.’

Step two: Get to the core of the issue

‘Sometimes the cause of anxiety and depression is obvious, but it can be a combination of different factors, some work-related and some linked to our home lives, which take their toll on people. Whatever the issue, if you feel you’re struggling, it’s best to book an appointment with your GP to talk about the support you can access.’

Step three: Talk about it

Yes, really. ‘Do you feel you can talk to your line manager? Or someone in the HR department? Just like you’d prepare for a meeting, think through what you’d like to say. Are you able to identify specific concerns at work, for example unrealistic deadlines, an ineffective relationship or workload which needs addressing?’ And if you don’t have that relationship with your line manager? ‘Take a look at the resources and support offered by organisations, such as Mind.’

Step four: Get out (more)

‘There are lots you can do to build up your personal resilience to deal with life’s challenges. Try to spot when things are starting to get too much and take action. Make sure you take all of your holiday allowance, as it’s important to be able to recharge your batteries. And consider the balance between your work and home life. I know some people who make sure they leave work on time at least two days a week.’

Step five: Do your own thing

‘Do your research and make the most of any subsidised gym memberships or flexible working options available. But don’t just wait for changes to happen from the top down. Be proactive in boosting the wellbeing of your office.’ We love the Swedes’ legally sanctioned ‘Fika’ break: 15 minutes where you and your team can stop, enjoy a proper coffee and some baked goods together. To get more Scandi-inspired happiness tips, pick up the February issue of healthy in Holland & Barrett

Will you take five to talk about mental health today? Pledge it on Twitter @TimeToChange using #TimeToTalk.

If you’re feeling down at work – or at home – and want more information, check out the Time to Change and Mind websites.

Feeling down at work? It's #TimeToTalk
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Feeling down at work? It's #TimeToTalk
1 in 4 of us with endure a mental health problem in our working lives. If you're feeling down at work, move things forward with our expert POA
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