“Mental health is a matter of concern for everyone, and not just for those affected by a mental disorder.” WHO, 2004
If we think about our state of health, if we find ourselves suffering some kind of physical pain or if we have difficulty performing a certain specific physical activity, we would surely evaluate how we feel physically. However, we may be losing sight of our emotional and mental state, and as the WHO tells us, mental health “… is not only the absence of an illness or disease” (2004).
Although mental health is as important as our physical health, it can sometimes be difficult for us to rate it when we evaluate ourselves. We could even be threatening our mental health with our day-to-day habits without realizing it. In this article we will talk about the importance of mental health in our lives and share some tips on how to support this important aspect of our well-being.
Well-being: an essential aspect of our people strategy
The World Health Organization defines mental health as follows:
“A state of well-being in which the individual realizes his own abilities, can cope with the normal pressures of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to the community.” (2004)
Just as if we were suffering from a physical illness, a mental health condition can make it difficult or even impossible for us to lead normal lives. It can impact our productivity and performance at work, our relationships with others and our own sense of self.
Recognizing the importance of mental health in our lives, on October 10th we celebrated World Mental Health Day. This day, which is supported by the United Nations, aims to raise awareness about the mental health conditions that people face around the world; and mobilize efforts to support this important aspect of our well-being. Additionally, it seeks to eliminate the taboo associated with people who suffer from depression, anxiety or other challenges to their mental well-being, as well as encourage speaking more openly about these common situations.
The importance of healthy habits and boundaries
Like the physical body, the mind requires maintenance and care. Just as we would take care of our physical health, if we do not feel well emotionally or mentally, we must pause and evaluate our emotional state and our habits. We ought to even consider going to see a specialist when necessary.
That said, we can start with the basics; mental health is deeply related to taking care of our physical health, which is why I invite you to practice these self-care strategies and behaviors:
- Get enough sleep.
- Exercise regularly
- Eat healthy.
- Learn to delegate and prioritize. This will sometimes involve knowing how to say “no”.
- Optimize time as best as possible.
- Establish healthy boundaries around work hours.
- Practice a form of meditation, yoga, or mindfulness.
- Keep in touch with friends and family.
- Contact the Employee Assistance Program or another specialized resource if necessary.
Personally, I highly value mindfulness rituals, as they are a way of recognizing how I feel and taking action to support my well-being. In the workplace, practicing simple actions such as a “check-in” (as we call it at Schneider Electric), which consists of starting a call asking “How are you feeling today?” helps us establish a human connection from the beginning, nurturing our interpersonal relationships and putting self-awareness behaviors into practice.
To really be able to have a positive impact and be of benefit to others, we must start from a position of well-being and happiness of your own. Our happiness and mental well-being are a great gift we can offer ourselves and those around us. It is what will allow us to feel fulfilled as human beings.
The importance of mental health in organizations
At Schneider Electric, well-being is an integral part of our people strategy. World Mental Health Day reinforces the importance of the actions carried out to promote employee mental well-being. For example, in Schneider Electric Mexico offers the Orienta PAE Employee Assistance Program, which has a wide variety of services and psychological, medical, legal, nutritional and even veterinary support.
Additionally, Schneider Electric offers benefits especially focused on promoting mental well-being, such as Flex Days (the optional possibility of purchasing additional vacation days) and the Recharge Break Program, which allows employees to take between 6 and 12 weeks away from work to rest and relax. After this period, they would resume their responsibilities in their current role.
The focus on mental health allows us to continue promoting our flexibility at work policies and the New Ways of Working organizational transformation, which are adapted to the new normal and allow us to be more agile, efficient, collaborative and above all, they seek to maintain healthy work schedules and boundaries while fostering high performance.
World Mental Health Day is an invitation and a reminder
World Mental Health Day, which we celebrate at Schneider Electric Mexico and Central America throughout the month of October, invites us to reflect and identify what more we need to do to continue creating an environment where we all feel empowered to manage our unique life and work, making the most of our energy.
There is still much work to be done. Stress and the possibility of burnout continue to be a reality for many of us, both leaders and employees. That is why when we talk about mental health we focus on the importance of understanding, recognizing and acting. This fundamentally implies establishing a dialogue of trust, supporting each other, maintaining healthy habits, and knowing how to identify the signs that indicate the need for extra care to ensure our mental well-being.
About the Author
Mariana C. González joined Schneider Electric in 2011. Since December 2020, she is the Social Responsibility Delegate for Mexico and Central America, whose duties include planning and executing Schneider Electric’s Social Responsibility actions in that region, as well as providing internal and external visibility of Schneider Electric programs involving Well-Being, community engagement, and sustainability, among others. Previously, she worked in the areas of Mobility, Communication and Change Management. Mariana firmly believes that, at Schneider Electric, we have a responsibility to be agents of positive change in the communities where we operate. She is passionate about human development and contributing to the creation of a more inclusive, fair and sustainable world. Personally, Mariana has been vegan since 2013 for animal ethics and environmental reasons.
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