Mental health topics have taken a big step forward over the last decade, but there is still a lot of work to be done, to have a better understanding of how to support yourself, and when and how to support others, especially in our work cultures, where stress can be an everyday factor.
The tasks of NGO Peaasjad (eng Head Matters) include the promotion of young people’s mental health, the prevention of problems, early intervention, and the reduction of stigmatisation in our society.
I recently completed the Mental health first aid course organised by NGO Peaasjad which was supported by the Ministry of Social Affairs. NGO Peaasjad has made it their mission to get 1% of Estonians trained on mental health first aid. That would mean that 13,000 people in Estonia would have to pass the course. Currently, the number stands at 4,528, I am now one of them.
Where should the mental health conversation start?
As with most things in the company, it should start from the top, not only is it a great influence and creates a better work environment and understanding. But looking at the statistics, that’s where mental health tools might be needed the most. As a founder, you are 50% more susceptible to having a mental health issue and twice as likely to suffer from depression. To those lucky ones who don’t develop major mental health issues, there’s still a chance of high stress and that developing into burnout. The numbers are staggering, but it is all preventable, with everyday actions and choices.
Do you know what are the signs that your mental health balance is not great? Is it bad sleep, being more closed off, and unmotivated, or do your eating habits change? For all of us, the signs can be different, that is why knowing yourself and taking action is so important.
Different sides to stress
All of this is not to say that we should never experience stress and should always be positive and smiling. That is not the case. Stress has gotten a bad name, but actually, as with many things, there are two sides to the coin. Stress helps you meet your daily challenges and motivates you to reach your goals, ultimately making you a smarter, happier, and healthier person. That’s right. Good stress is vital for a healthy life. You may think any type of stress is bad, but that isn’t the case. Good stress is short-term, stress becomes a problem when it’s in our lives for the long term. That’s where it can develop into burnout.
Burnout is an unbiased epidemic, inflicting young and old, experienced and first-timers, rich and poor alike — it doesn’t care about your background, your skillset, or how successful you’ve been. The pressure can get to anyone and those of us who lack the tools to manage it can find ourselves in a dark place quickly. – Joe Procopio CPO @Get Spiffy
Stages of stress and burnout:
- Normal stress: you feel pressure on a specific moment/deadline but only for a few minutes and the body recovers
- Hyper stress: you experience very intense periods of stress associated with severe symptoms
- Burnout: once you reach this zone, the recovery is a long and hard process
Work culture and mental health
It is legally necessary for a workplace to have a trained first aider at work, depending on the size of the company. That is to make sure that if someone physically hurts themselves there is immediate help. So why not have a mental health first aider? Someone who can be there for help if anyone needs it and asks for it. But also someone who knows what to notice and knows when to ask and when to have a conversation. End of the day you would want your employees in the best health possible, but that should also include mental health and emotional wellbeing.
Introducing mental health first aider at work helps raise awareness and create a healthy work environment, where talking about mental health is not stigmatised. And although mental health should not be about business, then a happy, healthy employee or founder is a lot more productive and innovative than an unhealthy one. The statistics from the UK is showing us that the number one cause of sickness absence is mental health. In conclusion, there are plenty of reasons to get on board.
Mental health first aid course
The course is 3-days either in person or over Zoom, and it involves a lot of great discussions with the other participants. Mental health and emotional well-being is something that is a very important topic for me personally but also as the Mental health ambassador and now the mental health first aider at Ecartic. Going through that course gave me great tools to use in everyday life and at work. I think it is important to be able to have conversations about mental health, especially after the experience of the last couple of years with the pandemic and the state of Europe now. The main takeaway for me was that anyone can make themselves feel better. It is only a matter of finding the right tools for the job!
So are you ready to become part of the 1%?
The course is available in Estonian, English, and Russian, so if it has sparked your interest, be sure to contact them. There’s also an option to invite them to your office to give a seminar or talk on different mental health topics to your team.
NGO Peaasjad (Head Matters, in English) was established in 2009 by mental health specialists working for the Psychiatry Clinic of North Estonia Medical Centre and the team now consists of qualified mental health specialists, youth workers, ICT specialists, etc.