What is ‘mental health’?

stress

By Ann McCracken,Ann-McCraken-100x100px

We have recently been asked to provide a course on Mental Health Awareness and I have discovered that like the word “stress” there is confusion about the meaning of “mental health”.

WHO defines Mental Health it as:
A person’s overall emotional and psychological condition

The Equality Act (2010) defines it as:
“A state of emotional and psychological well-being, in which an individual is able to use their cognitive and emotional capabilities, function in society, and meet the ordinary demands of everyday life”

MIND has a similar definition but calls it Mental Wellbeing.
This sounds very positive and great to achieve.

The opposite of Mental Wellbeing would be Mental Ill Health, encompassing the wide variety of conditions from anxiety to bipolar disorder as well as other negative symptoms and feelings. I have started this discussion as I recently noted a ruling by the Employment Appeal Tribunal which affects all employers’ responsibility when it comes to responding to the health needs of their workforce.

The outcome of the Appeal was that employees suffering from depression caused by work-related stress could now ask their employers to pay for psychiatric counselling.  This case emanated from an SME management, overloading demands on their Finance/Reception manager, over a significant period of time as the company expanded.

Small organisations often do not have rigorous policies and procedures in place and even although they are small, communication and level of emotional intelligence is not always as good as it could be.

Most large organisations have support arrangements in place for their staff but I find communication and emotional intelligence is often lacking, resulting in distress, frustration, anger and other emotions which reduce performance, commitment and morale in any organisation.

Both mental and physical wellbeing are essential for an effective workforce and can be easily measured using and Organisational Risk (Wellbeing) Assessment. I hope it is the aim of all organisations to ensure that wellbeing is on the Board agenda for action and regular measurement.

I am Chairing the Health @Work Summit 2014 in London on the 12th June. I look forward to seeing you there and hearing your opinions on this and other fascinating topics.

http://www.symposium.co.uk/shop/conferences/health-work-2014/

About Ann McCracken

Ann McCracken is a Director of AMC2 and the vice president of the International Management Association (ISMA UK) – the professional body for stress management Practitioners.

She specialises in developing a positive and resilient working culture in organisations by introducing effective strategies in performance and wellbeing at all levels. The effectiveness of such a positive working culture is measured and assessed using AMC2 Corporate Diagnostic innovative surveys which include measurement of psychosocial factors, stress and wellbeing. Having initially trained as a scientist, she carried out research with DEFRA and consultancy in the NHS.

She spent 10 years in Education before retraining as a stress management practitioner in 1996. She is the author of Stress Gremlins©, regularly writes/broadcasts and is an external lecturer at Westminster University. She is also a Key Note/Motivational speaker/Conference Chair.

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