WHAT do you think about when you hear the words ‘mental health’? Is mental health something that you consider as part of you?
When you hear the words ‘mental health’, do you assume that this equates to mental illness? If you do, then you are not alone.
As a clinical psychologist working in mental health services, I am very aware of the impact that mental illness has on individuals and families, and how beliefs about mental health can compound stigma. According to the World Health Organisation, many people have misconceptions about mental health problems. These include a belief that personal deficiencies lead to mental health problems, that mental health problems cannot be treated, and that people diagnosed with mental health disorders are unable to make decisions about their own lives.
In reality, we all have levels of mental health in the same way that we all have levels of physical health. The question is where on the mental health continuum we are at any point in time. This continuum ranges from poor mental health and illness to positive mental health and can vary from day-to-day and is affected by our lived experiences.
Research suggests that one in four of us will experience mental health difficulties at some point in our lives and the severity of these difficulties will be very much compounded or alleviated by the support systems that surround us. Our families, friends, broader community network and place of work all impact on our mental wellbeing.
For many adults employment takes up a third of their day and can positively or negatively affect their mental health. All relationships personal, social and occupational are reciprocal. Therefore how we are impacts on others, and how they are impacts on us.
That is why Cork Healthy Cities recently launched PSYCHED, a new workplace award scheme aimed at encouraging mental health promotion initiatives which offer benefits to both employers and their employees.
By definition PSYCHED means to be mentally prepared, to be excited and emotional. We want people to be excited about mental health and wellbeing. PSYCHED as our scheme’s name is also an acronym, with each of the letters prompting us to engage with the Positive Support You Can Have Every Day in the places where you work. PSYCHED is about stimulating a conversation that promotes a better understanding of mental health and wellbeing in Cork based workplaces.
When people are encouraged to talk about mental health, that will promote wellbeing and reduce stigma. PSYCHED aims to encourage employers to engage with staff to promote and foster mental health in the workplace.
We are celebrating commitment, good practice and innovation in mental health promotion in the workplace by awarding the PSYCHED Certificate of recognition. Already we have some workplaces on board, and we want to encourage others to get involved.
The Award Scheme celebrates any efforts, no matter how small, being made in workplaces across Cork to support the mental well-being of staff. Examples of efforts can range from very simple activities such as making time for group tea/coffee breaks to promote social interaction or lunch time walks for physical and mental health, to large-scale employee engagement and wellness support programmes.
Our aim is to advance Cork as Ireland’s first mental health promoting city. Cork is a WHO Healthy City and, as a mental health service provider, I am PSYCHED to work in partnership with Cork Healthy Cities to grow and develop this community-wide initiative.
All participating workplaces will be invited to a celebration in City Hall in March, hosted by Lord Mayor Cllr Tony Fitzgerald, when the 2018 PSYCHED Certificate of Recognition will be awarded.
Application is open to every type of workplace: Sole Trader, Emerging Business, Small- Medium Enterprise, Multinational, Not for Profit, Public Service.
Just call 086 603 5552 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org for an application form. The closing date for applications is March 9. For more information go to www.CorkHealthyCities.com/PSYCHED
Daniel M. Flynn is Principal Psychology Manager, Cork Mental Health Service, Cork Kerry Community Healthcare, HSE.