Background to Mental Health issues

Background to Mental Health issues

In this article we will take a look at mental health and provide an overview of the subject.

We will briefly explain how to identify different mental health issues and highlight the changing attitudes to mental health issues.

The growing cost to UK employers relating to mental health issues will also be explored as well as the benefits to businesses who invest in the wellbeing of their employees.

The work being done by Chesterfield FC Community Trust to help people experiencing mental health issues will also be covered.

How to identify mental health issues

Given the fact that mental health issues affect, on average, one in four people any given year, it is a subject that will have an impact on most of us. Even if you don’t experience a mental health issue, there may be someone close to you who does.

To provide a greater understanding of this highly important subject, we will take a look at how the various mental health issues can be identified and categorised.

Mind, the mental health charity, summarise the range of mental health issues by stating: “They range from common problems, such as depression and anxiety, to rarer problems such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.”

The definition of depression is “feelings of severe despondency and dejection”. It is more than simply feeling unhappy or fed up for a few days.

There are various different ways that depression can affect someone. Physical symptoms can include constantly feeling tired, having difficulty sleeping and suffering aches and pains.

Anxiety is described as a feeling of unease, such as worry or fear, that can be mild or severe. Everyone will experience anxiety during their life, whether it is feeling anxious about taking an exam or facing a job interview etc.

An anxious feeling can be considered normal in such circumstances, but some people struggle to control their worries and this can have an impact on their daily lives.

Schizophrenia is a mental illness characterised by relapsing episodes of psychosis, with common symptoms including hallucinations, delusions and disordered thinking. 

Hallucinations usually involve ‘hearing’ voices while delusions are false beliefs.

People with schizophrenia might hear, see, smell, or feel things no one else does. 

Bipolar disorder, which affects 1% of the global population, causes periods of depression and abnormally elevated moods. During periods of depression, there may be crying and a negative outlook on life while displaying poor eye contact with others.

Those affected by the condition often make poorly thought out decisions, paying little regard to the consequences.

Changing attitudes to mental health issues

Much work has been done in recent years to remove the stigma attached to mental health issues.

With suicide being the most common cause of death for males under the age of 45, various initiatives have been devised to try and combat the problem.

Time to Talk Day, for example, is an annual date in the diary, encouraging everyone to be more open about mental health. Time to Talk Day 2020, organised by Time to Change social movement, is on Thursday, February 6.

People are now being actively encouraged to talk about their problems rather than hide away and face their fears alone. It is clear, however, that there is still plenty of work to be done in this area to educate people about mental health matters.

Violet, in a blog written for the Mind website, described her experiences at work. She wrote: “Some people told me that they didn’t believe in mental health problems, as if mental health problems are a myth that they could choose not to believe in.

“Even when presented with evidence and facts regarding mental health they refused to accept that I was ill.

“They thought I (and presumably everyone else with the same conditions) were lying. There have been many occasions when I’ve been told that I was lazy and selfish.

“Some people were of the opinion that I should easily be able to pull myself together and shrug off my problems.”

Brian Dow from Rethink Mental Illness stresses that although attitudes to mental illness have improved – in part thanks to the organisation’s Time to Change anti-stigma campaign – certain issues such as schizophrenia remain misunderstood.

“We found that 50% of people mistakenly think schizophrenia means you have a ‘split’ personality,” he said.

Growing cost to UK employers

Mental health issues affecting employees is a growing problem for UK firms.

New research conducted by consultancy firm Deloitte suggests that poor mental health cost UK bosses more than £43bn in 2018, which is an increase of 16% since the last estimate of £37bn in 2016.

A range of factors are blamed for the reported increase in cost, including employees spending unproductive hours at work when ill, rather than taking time off.

“Burnout” is also experienced by some workers, with technology making it easier to put in extra time and check emails outside designated working hours.

Statistician Robert Cuffe warns that the cost to businesses could be even more than the figure quoted. He said: “The wages people are paid when they’re on sick leave is one way to estimate the cost, but people often don’t disclose that sick leave is for mental health problems, so the true costs could be higher.”

Benefits to employers investing in staff wellbeing

Reacting to the report, Paul Farmer, chief executive of Mind, pointed out the benefits to companies who place an emphasis on the importance of promoting good mental health among their workforce.

He said: “Smart, forward-thinking employers are investing in staff wellbeing, and those who do tend to save money in the long run.

“This report shows the link between prioritising staff wellbeing and improved loyalty and productivity; and decreased sickness absence and resignations.

“However, it also shows a rise in ‘presenteeism’ – unwell staff spending unproductive hours at work rather than taking time off. As presenteeism costs three times more than sick leave, we need to look at supporting employers to change the culture, so their staff feel able to take time off when they are unwell.

“The Government must also play their part by improving the definition of disability under the Equality Act, so more people with mental health problems can benefit from its rights and protections, as well as increasing the amount of Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) staff receive when they’re off sick.

“Employers can access resources to help prevent poor mental health and promote wellbeing through the Mental Health at Work Commitment.”

Community Trust’s mental health projects

Chesterfield FC Community Trust does much work with people who suffer from mental health issues, helping them to lead a happier and healthier life by offering recovery in a non-clinical environment.

The ‘A Spire Right’ programme, for example, assists those who are recovering from substance misuse. This has received national recognition after being named as the Best Intervention Programme at the National League Awards in 2019.

The Trust’s ‘Football for Life’ initiative involves those who experience mental health issues taking part in weekly football training sessions and getting involved in matches.

There is also a nine-week programme offered by the Trust called ‘Active for Life’, which is for people with severe mental health issues, involving sessions dealing with anxiety management, confidence building and other associated subjects.

Social prescribing – addressing people’s needs in a holistic way – is on the increase and the Trust is playing a part in this, helping to support individuals as they take greater control of their own health. This includes encouraging people from the local community to get involved in volunteering and providing volunteers with a support network.

To find out more about the mental health projects being delivered by the Community Trust, please click on the ‘Health and Wellbeing’ tab on the menu.