Loughborough University London supports WHO’s World Mental Health Day
As part of the University’s communications about World Mental Health Day (10 October), colleagues based at Loughborough University London produced an informative blog post about mental health in the workplace, its links to ongoing equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) work at the University, as well as guidance on how to support your own mental health. The authors of this piece are members of the London campus EDI committee, and this piece was originally published on the Loughborough University London blog.
Did you know 10 October, is World Mental Health Day? Loughborough University London joins the World Health Organization and its stakeholders in raising awareness of mental health and mobilising efforts in support around the world.
This year, our objective is to raise awareness of staff mental health within Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) dialogue in day-to-day life and in the workplace.
We all have times when we feel down, stressed, anxious or frightened, have ups and downs at work, home life or both. Many of us may ask the question, what is mental health? Do I have a mental health problem? Do I need to seek help? How can I seek help? Why is there such a stigma or fear of disclosing and talking about mental health? Will family, friends, and colleagues at work understand and support me? Is poor mental health a disability, a disorder, a health condition, a problem, part of wellbeing or neurodiversity?
We cannot answer all of these questions in one go. However, as members of the Loughborough University London Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Committee, we believe all our staff and students deserve to feel that mental health is not a problem but that it is part of life and whatever their experience, they will be supported. We recognise that currently, that may not always feel the case and that more can be done. We aim to mobilise our efforts not just to increase awareness, understanding and support for mental health, but to listen to staff and student needs, and believe that as a School we can achieve that together.
About mental health
MIND (2021) states that ‘Good mental health means being generally able to think, feel and react in the ways that you need and want to live your life’. During a period of poor mental health, thoughts, feelings, and reacting to situations around you can feel more difficult, or even impossible to live with. Types of poor mental health can range from commonly known conditions such as depression and anxiety to rarer health conditions such as bipolar disorder and eating disorders.
The Mental Health Foundation reports nearly half of adults believe that they have had a diagnosable mental health condition, yet only one-third receive a diagnosis. Forty per cent are uncomfortable having a conversation with someone about their mental health; 56% of people worry they might embarrass the other person and 58% feel they might offend them. Different groups, communities and cultures have different experiences which may impact their identity, experience of mental health and type of support they may seek. There is a higher prevalence of reported poor mental health amongst BAME, LGBT+, carers, women and people with physical disabilities. The Mental health Foundation also found that a wide range of experiences during the COVID pandemic related to being a key worker, bereavement, loneliness, caring for others, working from home and returning to work continues to have a significantly negative impact on mental health.
Within the workplace, MIND research found that more than one in five people experiencing stress had called in sick to avoid work; 14% had resigned; 42% had thought about resigning, and 30% of staff disagreed with the statement ‘I would feel able to talk openly with my line manager if I was feeling stressed’.
Increasingly a healthy work-life balance is recognised as being essential to reduce poor mental health. A Mental Health Foundation survey found that more than 40% of employees are neglecting other aspects of their life because of work which may increase vulnerability to mental health issues. When working long hours more than a quarter feel depressed, one-third anxious and over half more irritable. Nearly two-thirds of employees reported a negative impact on their personal life, including personal development, physical and mental health, poor relationships and home life. Concerns about returning to work after lockdown was also high.
Across the London campus, we have been increasing awareness of resources and support for mental health available across the University and in the community. We have MIND information leaflets, shared information on resources and training across the University, and let’s not forget our University Mental Health Day celebrations! More recently, People and Organisational Development have revised the mandatory Welcome to Loughborough Induction to include mental health awareness.
Supporting your mental health
Going forward, the Loughborough London EDI Committee is committed to the development of an open, equal and inclusive environment for mental health. We want to create an environment where all staff and students feel that it is okay to talk about mental health, seek information or seek support for themselves or to help someone else if they choose to do so, and we are committed to helping staff and students access such resources.
In parallel to increasing awareness, educating and challenging stigma, the EDI Committee will soon be arranging a wide variety of activities to meet the needs of students and staff, such as drop-in forums, opportunities to email your ideas for activities, resources to access mental health information, and more. Our aim is to find ways in which people can talk about mental health confidentially if they choose to do so. We know finding the time, let alone the energy can be tough, especially if you are working from home, so all of your input is more than welcome.
- Dr Andrea Geurin – Loughborough University London EDI Chair
- Dr Debbie Eagle – Loughborough University London EDI Mental Health Lead
- Jenny Wong – Loughborough University London EDI Disability Lead
- Miranda Bioh – Loughborough University London EDI HR Lead
Equality, Diversity and Inclusion
Reflections, comments, discussion and opinion on EDI topics from Loughborough University staff and students