Safer Highways | Mental health – is it time to change the narrative?
Glen Ridgway, and independent mental health consultant talks about why he feels it is time to change the narrative around mental health.
One of the speakers at last week’s ‘Putting Words into Action” event at the House of Commons last week was Dr Nick Taylor from Unmind. He made several extremely valid points, but the one I want to focus on is (to paraphrase).
“When we say the words mental health what image do we see?
As he said, 90% of the images attached to articles about mental health look like this.
We tend to talk about mental health as a negative. But would we talk about physical health in the same way? When we talk about physical health, we see people exercising and often smiling.
The images we see are much more positive, because we know the value of positive physical health.
So why do we think of mental health differently?
We all have mental health in the same way we all have physical health. We can have poor physical health, but we know we can do things to improve and maintain our physical wellbeing and we know that is a good thing. We aspire to have good physical health and to stay that way.
The same goes for our mental health – having good mental health has many benefits:
Our relationships at home and at work improve; we are more resilient and can cope better with the challenges that life throws at us. We are more focused, more productive and more engage in life and at work. We are more relaxed, we sleep better and we are happier. Just to name a few.
We should aspire to achieve and maintain positive mental health (and we can still do this with the right support even if we have a mental illness – but that is a blog for another day).
It the world of work, there is growing evidence from across the globe that organisations which invest in the mental wellbeing of their people demonstrate increased productivity, creativity, customer satisfaction and ultimately are more profitable. These businesses gain a reputation for being a good place to work so they recruit and retain the best talent. A mentally healthy workforce is more resilient to change and more adept at meeting new challenges. A mentally health workforce offers a competitive advantage.
So let change the narrative around mental health. Lets stop seeing it as a negative and start recognising that promoting positive mental health is as important as promoting positive physical health. Let start looking at mental health in a more positive light.