While self-help can go a long way, for more serious difficulties it’s important to get help from a professional. For all mental health issues, your GP will be the first port of call for accessing help through the NHS including medication, counselling and other therapies.
All members of staff can access counselling for both work-related issues and non-work-related issues. Information on how to access these confidential services can be found on Staying Safe and Well.
Other therapies that can be helpful include:
Life coaches provide clients with the tools to confidently face difficult situations, push past emotional barriers and eventually view life with fresh, hopeful and enlightened eyes. The life coach will work with you to help you move forward with your life. Life coaching is often seen as a partnership between you and your life coach, who will gently encourage you to explore how to make positive changes in your life. A life coach should also offer support and feedback to help you to stay focused on your goals.
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT)
CBT is a talking therapy that focuses on how you think about the things going on in your life and how this affects the way you deal with emotional problems. It looks at how you can change any negative patterns of thinking or behaviour that may be causing you difficulties. In turn, this can change the way you feel.
CBT theory suggests that it isn't events themselves that upset you, but the meanings you give to them. In CBT, you will learn to recognise how you think, behave and feel. You will then be encouraged to explore other ways of thinking and behaving that may be more useful.
CBT can be a helpful therapy for anxiety, depression, panic attacks, OCD, and other common mental health problems.
Making Sense of CBT explains more about who and what CBT is for, what happens during therapy sessions, and how to find a therapist.
Mindfulness is a way of paying attention to the present moment, using techniques like meditation, breathing and yoga. It helps us become more aware of our thoughts, feelings, and emotions, so that instead of being overwhelmed by them, we’re better able to manage them. Mindfulness can help with stress, anxiety, depression and addictive behaviours, and can even have a positive effect on physical problems like hypertension, heart disease and chronic pain.
Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR) can help people learn how to manage their stress levels and improve their physical and mental health through techniques such as meditation, gentle yoga and mind-body exercises.
Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) is designed to help people who are prone to recurring depression. It combines mindfulness techniques with elements from cognitive therapy to help break the negative thought patterns that are characteristic of recurrent depression.
Recovery from mental health problems
Recovery in a mental health context is different from the clinical recovery (cure) from physical illnesses. It means slightly different things to different people, but for most people with mental health difficulties, it involves being able to live a life that the person finds satisfying and meaningful, whether or not they continue to have symptoms. It is more that the person feels they have found a way to ‘recover their life’, rather than having ‘recovered from’ the illness as such.
This gives the person an opportunity to rebuild their life taking account of their illness and any continuing symptoms or difficulties. It includes regaining hope for the future and a sense of control over their own life, and may involve incorporating their experiences into a new sense of personal identity.
Support in the workplace
An important aid to recovery is the person being able to function as a full member of society, including continuing to have a role in the workplace that satisfies their abilities and plays to their strengths. Appropriate support from the line manager and colleagues is invaluable in the person being able to function fully in their role and in maintaining their sense of worth.
Non-judgemental listening is a much under-rated skill, but is highly valued by a person who needs to be heard. People with mental health difficulties are often reluctant to speak about their situation because of worrying that they will be misunderstood or judged.
Many people feel that they lack the skills to support colleagues and students with mental health difficulties. The Mental Health First Aid course organised by Staff Development is a two-day introductory course for all staff who wish to increase their knowledge, confidence and skills in discussing mental health and supporting colleagues and students with mental health difficulties.
The Mental Health Awareness wiki page provides an overview of common mental health issues that may be encountered.
To tell or not to tell?
If you feel that it might be beneficial to disclose your mental health condition, the following web page may help you decide how and when to talk to your line manager:
If your mental health condition has a substantial adverse and long-term effect on your life, you are likely to be covered by the Equality Act and your department must make reasonable adjustments to enable you to perform your role. It may be necessary to have an Occupational Health assessment to advise on suitable adjustments.
http://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/legal-rights/disability-discrimination/ includes some useful general information.
You may also wish to explore the University Equalities and Diversity web pages: http://www.bath.ac.uk/equalities/
A note on Perfectionism
When having high standards crosses the line into perfectionism it can lead to difficulties and eventually seriously affect one's mental health. Working too long hours, trying to get everything nailed down to the nth degree, over-running deadlines because you can't quite finish a perfect job. How to overcome perfectionism indicates the symptoms of perfectionism and provides some tips and tools to overcome it.
The MIND web site has a gateway into a wide range of supportive information pages.
Free fact-sheets on a wide range of mental health-related issues from Rethink.
1. McManus S., et al. (2009) Adult psychiatric morbidity in England, 2007: Results of a household survey. Leeds: NHS Information Centre for Health and Social Care.