On mental health in the workplace

It's about more than having a policy in place.

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Some days, I wake up and I just feel more introverted than others. On these days, I don’t really want to speak to anyone or look anyone in the eye, in case they ask me questions. Questions, actually talking in general, is not fun on these days.

Coffee helps. Hence the first thing I do when I get to work is have a coffee. For years I thought people had to have their morning coffee because it genuinely helps them perk up, but for me, it gives me a few extra quiet moments, to focus myself and get used to being around people. Gently does it.

The workplace is not the most understanding place for someone with any kind of mental health issue. These days a company saying they have a mental health plan in place, is like saying you had a CSR plan back in the late 1990s. It doesn’t mean an awful lot in real life.

It’s not like I can realistically take a duvet day or start work late because I’m not entirely sure how to face the world that day. There is still the intrinsic attitude of just getting on with it. Just get shit done. You can sleep when you’re dead. Seize the day! Just do it! Oh god.

“We do not go to psychiatrists.” (Emily Gilmore from Gilmore Girls). This was very much the attitude of my grandma’s generation (although that said, my maternal grandfather was a psychiatrist – but for the brief time I knew him, he was an alcoholic, so sadly I didn’t get any free therapy sessions.)

I think however that this is still very much the attitude of many people in society, and whilst everyone agrees suicide is terrible and must be prevented, the quieter, less shocking aspect of generalised anxiety is probably doing much more damage to productivity in the workplace and the economy, and yet is almost entirely overlooked.

Overcoming anxiety is the key. This is what stops brilliant people becoming amazing. For the majority of us, this won’t happen without a radical shift in how we work together.

Originally published at

Photo by Remy_Loz on Unsplash

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