Ireland has one of the highest rates of mental health illness in Europe, a recent OECD report finds. Mental health problems cost the Irish economy over €8.2 billion a year. Ireland came joint third out of the 36 countries surveyed in the 2018 annual OECD Health at a Glance report.*
18.5% of the Irish population was recorded as having a mental health disorder, such as anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, depression, or alcohol or drug use, in 2016. Anxiety disorders and depression are now the most common mental health problem affecting the population. They account for a similar level of stress and disability within society as cancer or heart disease.٢
The triggers for anxiety are very personal or subjective. A break-up, exam or work stress, or an argument with a friend can make you feel anxious, worried or scared. Anxiety is a common, everyday feeling, but it can become a problem when there is no obvious reason for it. Or when those anxious feelings persist for a protracted period.
Individuals experiencing some or all of the symptoms of – dry mouth, poor concentration, muscle tension, rapid heart rate, sweats, nightmares, diarrhoea or loss of libido are likely to be suffering from anxiety. Other observations are irritability or mood swings, questioning and controlling everything, perfection and pessimism.
What can we do about it?
- Start to journal times and causes when anxiety kicks in. Notice the situations or things cause feelings of anxiety and what settings or environments create relaxation.
- Create healthier food and exercise habits.
- Discover ways to relax – pilates, yoga, meditation and mindfulness are all very relaxing.
- Switching off devices and just going outside and getting fresh air may work for you.
- Meet good friends and spend time hanging out with them and catching up.
- Observe the way you talk to yourself in your mind, if you find you are speaking harshly or critically to yourself, pause, and ask yourself would you treat a friend that way.
- If your anxiety symptoms persist, CBT can help. Find a trusted and accredited professional for support.
With mental health statistics like these, an Employee Assistance Program is longer just a nice to have as a talent attraction and retention tool. Employers fully realise that employee well-being is integral to the mission and make-up of the whole organisation from the ground up.
Some employees may be feeling the fallout of the recession, much needed improvements to city infrastructure and transport methods have been reduced and new housing builds are not yet back at pre-recession levels. Thus our growing population is faced with greater demands on their energy levels, their time and their financial resources.
Suspicions and resentment may remain among long-term staff in companies that survived the recession. Furthermore, those who remained, may be still feeling the after-shocks of colleague redundancy and organisation restructure.
Companies and HR departments seeking out ways and plans to take care of their employee populations may also be met with some degree of fatigue and cynicism. Staff may consider any efforts to gain their buy in as yet another box-ticking exercise. Therefore, it’s a worthwhile exercise for HR Departments to train and engage Mental Health & Wellness Champions at local levels within departments so that local engagement with wellness initiatives is optimised. These Champions may at times be a little closer to the root of staff issues on the ground than HR Departments who may feel a little removed local realities or housed within other buildings or centres.
Things are moving in the right direction in Ireland and wellness is on everyone’s lips, but we do still have a little way to go in terms of viewing mental health as a constituent part of the holistic health and fuller well-being of the individual/employee. Thanks to the initiatives of great organisations such as Movember, Shine, A Lust for Life, Spunout and so many others, prejudices are falling away and mental health continues to stay top of the agenda in the work-world and in radio, print and online media.
Yogapal offers wellness events and programs direct to your business door at the click of a button. We care about your employees and are passionate about everything we do.
We do the hard work so you don’t have to.
Let’s build on this momentum and keep moving things in the right direction.
Sources – *Irish Times, ٢ HSE.ie