Supporting Mental Health Awareness Week 2019
Each year, HM supports this campaign run by the Mental Health Foundation (MHF) to show our commitment to talking openly and taking action to encourage a positive working culture.
This year’s theme is Body Image, and throughout the week we had a number of activities chosen to promote well being.
According to the MHF and NHS:
- One in four adults and one in 10 children experience mental illness.
- In 2017/8 mental health problems accounted for 15.4 million sick leave days in the UK.
- 30% of all adults have felt so stressed by body image and appearance that they felt overwhelmed or unable to cope, almost 1 in every 3 people.
- 50% of mental health problems are established before the age of 14 and 75% by around age 24.
For more information, check out the MHF website.
How does body image affect mental health?
Having body image concerns is a relatively common experience and is not a mental health problem in and of itself: however, it can be a risk factor for mental health problems. Research has found that higher body dissatisfaction is associated with a poorer quality of life, psychological distress and the risk of unhealthy eating behaviours and eating disorders.
What causes body image concerns?
The way in which our experiences and environment affect our body image will be different for everyone. Research suggests that body image can be influenced by:
- Relationships with our family and friends.
- How our family and peers feel and speak about bodies and appearance.
- Exposure to images of idealised or unrealistic bodies through media or social media.
- Pressure to look a certain way or to match an ‘ideal’ body type.
A BBC report ‘ The complicated truth about social media and body image’ suggests that using social media does appear to be correlated with body image concerns. The impact of social media on not only our body image but our mental health is becoming an ever increasing conversation.
Visit Its time to log off – the self styled ‘home of digital well being’which includes information to assess your screen usage:
The 5:2 Digital Diet offers great tips on reducing screen time.
If you want to reduce or review your smartphone usage, there’s an app for that! including the Quality Time app.
Here’s a snapshot of HM’s activity for Mental Health Awareness Week 2019
Fruit Baskets #BeBodyKind
Food and hydration can affect our mood, and to kick-start the week the ever-popular fruit baskets were available across the offices. Find out what an ideal ‘Mind Meal’ looks like.
Fast Fact: Your brain weighs around 3lbs and uses up about 20% of your daily calorie intake? Eating a varied and healthy diet, and drinking (around 2 litres per day is recommended) will help your memory, concentration levels and general mood.
Wellness Walks #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek
Walking (and exercise in general) is good for general well being by reducing anxiety and depression. A short walk ensures we take a break from our desk to enjoy sunshine and green spaces which helps with clearer thinking. These short walks are also a great way to catch up with colleagues in a social environment.
Fast Fact: The World Health Organisation recommends that we should do between 75 and 150 minutes of exercise a week). Exercise can:
- Release endorphins, the feel-good chemicals.
- Help process thoughts.
- Reduce the risk of depression by almost 20% (by increasing activity from nothing to at least 3 times a week).
A 2018 report from Business in the Community stated that only 16% of employees felt able to disclose a mental health issue to their manager and mental health charity, Mind found that 93% of workers who have taken stress-related leave have lied to their boss about the real reason behind their absence.
Throughout the week we shared information and tips to encourage people to talk openly about well being and take action to make positive improvements, see the Wellness Walk photo taken by colleagues in Liverpool.
Self help strategies for managing stress and building resilience
Managing stress can depend on personal preferences, and the severity of stress and anxiety at any given time. Try what you think will work for you – starting with small changes. Encourage long-lasting support in the work place. For example, HM has introduced Mental First Aiders and invited Dr Angela Armstrong to host resilience awareness sessions).
Mental well being
- Try an interactive site such as Mood Gym, which teaches skills to prevent anxiety.
- Mindfulness and guided relaxation – try out an app or listen to a headspace podcast.
- Try reducing stress through breathing exercises.
- Start a conversation – talking to a trusted person may help.
Physical well being
- Stay hydrated – 2 litres of water a day for women and 2.5 litres per day for men is recommended.
- Limit caffeine intake – around 300mg per day (around 3 strong cups of coffee or 4 cups of tea).
- Lifestyle – take regular exercise and eat healthily.
- Downtime – try to get 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep every night.
Work-based well being
- Step away from your desk or usual work station and take your lunch break every day.
- Avoid checking your emails in the evening and first thing in the morning.
- Suggest regular activities to your peers and team mates that promote well being such as walks.
- Take all your holidays you are entitled to and try to spread them throughout the year.
Promoting positive mental health in the legal profession
LawCare supports and promotes good mental health and well being. It noted a 5% increase in calls to their helpline in 2018. The most common reason for calling was stress (26%), followed by depression (19%) and anxiety (11%). Contact details:
Extra information and support
If you or someone you know needs urgent assistance, contact your GP or get in touch with:
- Shout – Text 85258 (24/7 365 days a year)
- NHS 111 – Call 111 (24/7 365 days a year)
- Samaritans – Call 116 123 (24/7 365 days a year)
- Mind – Call 0300 123 3393 (Monday – Friday, 9am-6pm
Further reading to promote positive mental health
- Mental Health First Aid England understanding mental health in young people quiz #HandsUpForHealthyMinds #HU4HM