Importance of mental well beingKSG-admin
By Governor Musili and Eric Mulama
Mental health is an integral and essential component of health. It is fundamental to our collective and individual ability as humans to think, emote, interact , earn a living and enjoy life.
The World Health Organization constitution describes mental health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. Mental health is therefore more than just the absence of mental disorders or disabilities.
Individuals should realize their own abilities, cope with normal stresses of life, work productively and contribute to their community to qualify to be in a desirable mental health state. On this basis, the promotion, protection and restoration of mental health is a vital global concern.
How to identify a suicidal case
It is the Kenya School of Government desire to help staff in their darkest hour. Yet knowing how to even detect that an individual is contemplating suicide is challenging enough. However, as a guide, we will share some of the expert indicated symptoms and red flags one can look out for, assuming there is no recorded history of previous suicide attempts, mental health conditions or family history of suicide. They include incidents where a staff member is not as productive as usual or exhibits unmotivated behavior, is talking about being tired often and being noticeably fatigued, and acting more aggressively or more stressed out than usual.
Similarly, you may need to probe an individual further when they constantly comment about being a burden to others, and skipping office often or being absent for periods of time. Other traits that need to be watched include irritability or frustration, hopelessness and pessimism, depressed behavioural traits including exhibiting low self-esteem, and sadness or feeling ‘empty’.
Colleagues who have suffered life changing personal injuries are more susceptible to suicidal thoughts and should be looked out for. Other conditions that can be linked to a higher risk of suicidal ideation include social anxiety disorders as well as risk factors like sleep deprivation, being constantly under the influence of drugs and alcohol, and a tendency to reckless or impulsive behaviours. Sudden absenteeism, or change in work patterns are also pointers for the need to probe individuals concerned especially when one, who was usually on time and finished work much before deadlines, is suddenly struggling to cope with office timings or work schedules.
Stress assessment strategies
Once one identifies a colleague who seems suicidal the next course of action is to offer the best support. This will connect the person with support systems. If you think the person is genuinely feeling suicidal, inquire if
you can contact someone who could help or connect them with support groups. If it seems serious, help the individual to reach out to a mental health professional. You can even accompany them if need be. If that does not work, contact a suicide prevention centre like www.befrienderskenya.org on the person’s behalf and let professionals step in. If this fails engage the institution’s human resource and counselling professionals.
How to bring up a suicide issue
This requires tact so that the individual does not withdraw even further. The easier way would be to ask if the person is thinking of suicide. Several support groups concur that asking the question does not increase the person’s risk or put the idea of suicide in their head but will help you understand how they are feeling, and it helps reduce the risk.
If the person appears definitely suicidal, do not leave them alone or keep it a secret. It calls for continued support. This is the case if a one has recently experienced a personal tragedy, even if the person is on the path of recovery and the immediate crisis has settled, it is important to stay in touch and follow up. Do not wait for the person to reach out. Keep calling and dropping in periodically.
Work life balance
Maintaining a desirable work-life balance requires separation of personal and professional lives without allowing one to encroach upon the other. Both are important, hence neither should be neglected. Achieve a good work life balance is important as it increases an individuals productivity while helping maintain physical and mental well being.
It is prescribed that to achieve work life balance, employees should accept that there is no ‘perfect’ work-life balance, find a job that they love,n prioritize their health and do not feel afraid to unplug.
It is also important to tap into technology to ease work like using Skype or Google Meet if unable to physically get to work, manage the mind especially when one has stress and is anxious or take a vacation.
Employees are advised to always create time for themselves and their loved ones, set boundaries and work hours and set goals and priorities and stick to them.