Mental Health Support Strategies
With it being Mental Health Awareness Week, we decided to share our ideas about mental health support strategies. Mental Health is a taboo subject and there are no rules for talking about it.
There are different types of support that a person can draw on to help with Mental Health issues: Personal, Social and Organisational.
Personal control is the perceived control which a person believes they have. Perceived personal control has been associated with lower levels of psychological strain and higher well-being. Research suggests, that individuals who perceive a level of control are more likely to experience positive benefits to their well-being. It has been found that efforts to increase levels of personal control are likely to provide greater resilience and resistance to stress. For example, when an individual is struggling with work-life conflict allowing the individual to have personal control over their work time could help to reduce work-family conflict, work stress and enhance work-life balance which could help to improve their overall well-being. Research suggests that perceived personal control positively relates to good quality of life in patients with severe mental illness. This suggests allowing individuals with mental health illnesses to have specific control over aspects of their lives in order to have a good level of well-being. Another coping strategy used within personal control is goal setting, this allows the individual to set small achievable goals which can help to increase positivity and self-esteem. It is important to note that personal control on its own may not be beneficial to all those with mental health illnesses.
Social support is any support we receive from people within our social environment, such as friends, colleagues or family. Those who have access and use their social support are less likely to experience strain and have greater well-being. The way in which social support can help an individual is based on the need and desire of the individual which means that the individual needs to approach the support network with what they need. The role of social support has been shown to lessen the negative impact of stressors on personal well-being. Practical help or direct assistance may be needed to deal with potential stressful situations or situations that can cause onsets of mental health symptoms. Informational support or advice may serve to reduce ambiguity or uncertainty for an individual.
There are different levels of social support, one of these could be emotional support. High levels of comforting and sympathy can help to reduce the strain some people feel but may not work for all individuals. Emotional support has an impact when it is in line with the individuals needs and desires. The buffering hypothesis suggests that those who access social support compared to those who do not, will experience higher wellbeing. The mediation hypothesis suggests that it is important to discuss what you need with your social support to ensure you gain the support that is in line with your mental health needs and desires.
Organisational support is the support we can receive from the organisation we work for or specific organisations designed to support individuals, such as our GP. Some organisations often create policies and strategies intended to help employee’s well-being, for example, conducting occupational health screenings for mental health when an employee has disclosed mental health concerns. The perception of organisational support has been shown to increase job satisfaction, increased general satisfaction, organisational commitment, reduce work-family conflict, lower turnover and reduced feelings of conflict.
Support directly from supervisors has been related to less work-life conflict and higher well-being in the workplace than those who have not discussed or received support from their supervisor. Research has found that a lack of managerial support has been linked to job dissatisfaction, strain and higher levels of turnover and managerial support can include having a conversation with the employee to offering the employee direct help from occupational health.
There is no one-size-fits all in what support is best for individuals with mental health concerns. Every single individual is unique so their needed and desired support may be unique.
For our top tips on supporting employees and colleagues around their mental health, please refer back to our blog from the 10th May by Rebecca Wones, a Chartered Psychologist, called Supporting Employees with Mental Health Difficulties:
By Yvette Gibson, Assistant Psychologist at Lexxic