Work can be stressful. There’s nothing wrong with a bit of pressure to push us to do our best. There are going to be tight deadlines, busy periods and the occasional hiccup. But there’s a big difference between a little bit of stress and an overwhelming amount.
One in eight Australian men will experience depression and one in five will experience anxiety in their lifetime. Men are at least three times more likely to die by suicide than women. And overall, men are less likely to seek help for mental health conditions than women.
Like our physical health it’s important to look after our mental health too. Whether it’s our own mental health or looking out for signs of poor mental health in our workmates, friends or family, we all play a role in looking out for each other.
Tips to help look after your mental health
The signs and symptoms
Everyone has ups and downs, but if you’re feeling stressed or worried for no particular reason or notice changes in your mood, thoughts or behaviour for more than a few weeks then it might indicate that you could do with some extra support.
Other signs and symptoms of mental health issues include:
- feeling sad, empty, down or miserable,
- feeling tired all the time,
- changes in your weight (more or less),
- feeling angry, aggressive or irritable,
- loss of interest in, or avoiding activities you used to enjoy,
- feeling panicked, restless, tense or on edge,
- excessive worry or fears,
- ongoing headaches, digestive issues or pain,
- using alcohol or other drugs.
Dealing with stress at work
Work stress can be short term and relatively easy to deal with, like meeting an important deadline, but long-term stress can impact mental health. Excessive job stress accounts for 13 per cent of depression in working men.
Stress is common in the workplace, but it can be managed by keeping a good work-life balance; leave on time, plan holidays, catch up with a mate, or catch a concert or blockbuster movie to wind down at the end of a stressful week.
Don’t be afraid to discuss workload issues with your boss; it’s okay to admit you’ve got too much on your plate. Learn how to be diplomatic and say ‘no’ to things. If there’s an issue that’s causing stress, find a workmate with a similar role and chat about it.
Many organisations also provide access to an employee assistance program, which are just a phone call or email away.