Home » Men’s health week – What is Mental Health?

Remember, it’s okay not to be okay. Reaching out for support is a crucial step toward improving your mental health.

This week is Men’s Health Week, a critical time to emphasize the importance of mental health awareness among men. Despite increased awareness, many men still hesitate to talk about their mental health struggles. At the Electrical Industries Charity, we strive to illuminate the various factors that affect mental well-being, both positively and negatively. To start, we will explore what mental health and well-being truly mean.

What is Mental Health?

According to the World Health Organisation, “Mental health is a state of mental well-being that enables people to cope with the stresses of life, realise their abilities, learn well and work well, and contribute to their community. It is an integral component of health and well-being that underpins our individual and collective abilities to make decisions, build relationships and shape the world we live in. Mental health is a basic human right. And it is crucial to personal, community and socio-economic development.

“Mental health is more than the absence of mental disorders. It exists on a complex continuum, which is experienced differently from one person to the next, with varying degrees of difficulty and distress and potentially very different social and clinical outcomes.”

Understanding Stress

Before discussing ways to improve mental wellbeing, it’s crucial to understand how stress impacts our lives and what resilience means.

What is Stress?

Stress is our reaction to perceived danger. It manifests in two forms:

  1. Chronic stress, which builds up over time from regular stressors like a heavy workload or noisy environment.
  2. Acute stress, resulting from sudden or unexpected events like a car accident or bereavement.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) identifies six management standards related to work-related stress:

  • Demands: Your workload and its challenges.
  • Control: How much control you have over your work.
  • Support: The help and training provided to do your job.
  • Role: Whether the job is suitable, desirable, and within your capability.
  • Relationships: How well you get along with colleagues and managers.
  • Change: How much notice you receive about changes and your agreement with them.

If these stressors resonate with you, consider discussing them with somebody. This could be your supervisor or manager at work, a friend or the electrical industries charity.

Recognising Excessive Stress

Excessive stress over prolonged periods can lead to fatigue, feeling overwhelmed and burnout, which negatively impact health. The threshold for excessive stress varies from person to person, so it’s vital to develop skills to manage and reduce stress.

What is Resilience?

Resilience is the ability to adapt and recover from stress. It involves alternating between stress (‘fight or flight’) and relaxation. Without adequate relaxation, we become mentally and physically exhausted.

Spotting Signs of Stress

Recognising stress in ourselves and others is the first step toward addressing it. Early recognition helps prevent the descent into severe mental health issues.

Optimising Mental Health

  1. Sleep

Nearly half of people report that poor sleep negatively impacts their mental health. Tips for better sleep include:

  • Establishing a pre-sleep routine without blue light exposure.
  • Maintaining a consistent sleep schedule.
  • Creating a conducive sleep environment.
  • Practicing mindfulness techniques if you struggle to fall asleep.
  1. Nutrition

Diet significantly affects mental health. Tips for better nutrition include:

  • Avoiding sugary and caffeinated drinks.
  • Eating a healthy breakfast with protein.
  • Replacing unhealthy snacks with nutritious options.
  • Taking proper meal breaks and eating balanced meals.
  1. Physical Activity

Exercise boosts mental health and mood. Tips for staying active include:

  • Incorporating regular exercise, like gym workouts or yoga.
  • Moving around throughout the day, especially if you have a sedentary job.
  • Taking mental breaks to improve mood and reduce eye strain.
  1. Work/Life Balance

Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is crucial. Tips include:

  • Unplugging from work outside work hours.
  • Engaging in social activities and exercise.
  • Organising tasks by priority to manage workload effectively.
  • Discussing work-life balance concerns with your employer or HR.
  1. Financial Health

Financial stress significantly impacts mental health. Tips for managing finances include:

  • Creating and adhering to a budget.
  • Identifying areas to save money.
  • Managing debt through repayment plans.
  • Building a savings fund for unexpected expenses.
  1. Relaxation

Relaxation techniques help reduce stress and build resilience. These include:

  • Deep breathing exercises.
  • Grounding practices.
  • Positive thinking and visualisation.
  • Meditation and massage.
  • Laughter and trying new activities.
  • Setting achievable goals and connecting with others.
  • Taking breaks and asking for help when needed.

Seeking Support

From time to time, we need external support to maintain or improve our mental health. It’s okay to seek help, and the following organisations can provide support: