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UNDERSTANDING MENTAL HEALTH
WHAT IS MENTAL HEALTH?
Our mental health directly influences how we think, feel and act: it also affects our physical health. Work, in fact, is actually one of
the best things for protecting our mental health, but it can also adversely affect it.
Good mental health and well-being is not an on-off A person's mental health moves back and forth along this range during
experience. We can all have days, weeks or months their lifetime, in response to different stressors and circumstances. At
where we feel resilient, strong and optimistic, the green end of the continuum, people are well; showing resilience
regardless of events or situations. Often that can and high levels of wellbeing. Moving into the yellow area, people
be mixed with or shift to a very different set of may start to have difficulty coping. In the orange area, people have
thoughts, feelings and behaviours; or not feeling more difficulty coping and symptoms may increase in severity and
resilient and optimistic in just one or two areas of frequency. At the red end of the continuum, people are likely to be
our life. For about twenty-five per cent of us, that experiencing severe symptoms and may be at risk of self-harm or
may shift to having a significant impact on how suicide.
we think, feel and act in many parts of our lives,
including relationships, experiences at work, sense
of connection to peer groups and our personal sense
of worth, physical health and motivation. This could
lead to us developing a mental health condition such
as anxiety, depression, substance misuse.
Mental health is a positive concept related to the
social and emotional wellbeing of people and Positive, healthy Severe impact on everyday
communities. functioning functioning
The concept relates to the enjoyment of life, ability
to cope with stress and sadness, the fulfilment of Risk factors and protective factors influence mental health and can
goals and potential, and a sense of connection to nudge people back and forth along the continuum. They can be
others. Mental health is about wellness rather than individual or related to family, work or other life circumstances.
illness and is not merely the absence of a mental
health condition. Risk factors may increase the strain on our mental health, while
protective factors can counteract these by helping us to stay or
Like physical health, mental health is not fixed. become well. With much of people's time each day spent at work, the
Mental health exists on a continuum, or range: workplace is a very influential environment when it comes to mental
from positive, healthy functioning at one end health and wellbeing. A positive and supportive workplace can mean
through to severe symptoms of mental health the difference between being `in the green' or `in the orange'.
conditions at the other. (Source Beyondblue).
COMMON MENTAL HEALTH CONDITIONS
The purpose of this information is to give you greater understanding Visit these videos on:
of these issues. If you are concerned about yourself or a colleague,
professional assistance is recommended. ANXIETY
Remember, it is not your job to diagnose yourself SUBSTANCE MISUSE
or someone else.
REACTIONS TO CRITICAL INCIDENTS AND TRAUMA
THE LANGUAGE WE USE
? can include or exclude someone and says a lot about our own approach to and inclusion of mental illness.
? What words and phrases have you heard?
? What words and phrases have you used?
? Please take a few moments to write them down and then read the table below to learn about the impact of words and how to use
different words to be more inclusive.
? What will you use next time you speak about mental health conditions?
ISSUE PROBLEMATIC PREFERRED
Certain language sensationalises Terms such as `mental patient', A person is `living with' or `has a
mental ill-health and reinforces `nutter', `lunatic', `psycho', `schizo', diagnosis of' a mental illness
stigma `deranged', `mad'
Terminology that suggests a lack of Referring to someone with a mental A person is `being treated for' or
quality of life for people with mental illness as a `victim', `suffering from' or `someone with' a mental illness
ill-health `afflicted with' a mental illness
Labelling a person by their mental A person is a 'schizophrenic', 'an A person `has a diagnosis of' or `is
illness anorexic' being treated for' schizophrenia.
Descriptions of behaviour that imply Using words such as `crazed', The person's behaviour was unusual
existence of mental ill-health or are `deranged', `mad', `psychotic' or erratic
ISSUE PROBLEMATIC PREFERRED
Colloquialisms about treatment can Using words such as `happy pills', Accurate terminology for treatments
undermine people's willingness to `shrinks', `mental institution' e.g. antidepressants, psychiatrists or
seek help psychologists, mental health hospital
Terminology used out of context adds Terms like `psychotic dog', using Reword any sentence that uses
to misunderstanding and trivialises `schizophrenic' to denote duality such psychiatric or medical terminology
mental ill-health as `schizophrenic economy' incorrectly or out of context
For more information:
WORKPLACE MENTAL HEALTH AND WELL-BEING STRATEGY
Why does physical exercise improve mental health? There are several reasons why physical activity can be good for psychological well-being : Exercise decreases stress hormones. Exercise decreases stress hormones like cortisol. ... Physical activity distracts you from negative thoughts and emotions. ... Exercise promotes confidence. ... Exercise can be a good source of social support. ... Better physical health may mean better mental health. ... Exercise provides a buffer against stress. ...
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