The world has just marked Mental Health Day (10th of Oct). As usual, the topic of mental health has been explored in the media, progressive companies have been introducing some lectures, discussions, educational events and perhaps some novel tools. To increase the awareness of mental health and encourage people to talk about it. And take care. 24/7.
Being engaged and interested in this topic, I was also happy to see that lots of messages were stressing that it is not A day. It is about creating systems that would ensure that it becomes an organic part of our lives.
This year Mental Health Day also made me think about the role of our careers in mental health. I believe that the organizations we are working in and careers we are pursuing have a great impact on our mental health and emotional well being. In a previous blog entry I shared some thoughts on the role of the organizational culture we are in. I truly believe everyone should try to look for organization they feel a cultural fit with (or lead a cultural transformation). But even if we found one – what else should we do to ensure we take care of our career health 24/7?
- Develop the habit of reflecting on your career – how do you feel about it, what brings you the biggest joy and satisfaction, where you feel to be very strong and what are the things that you want to develop, learn, try.
- Work on career resilience – our capability to cope with stress is related to emotional resilience. Resilience is something we can improve, develop. It is the same with a career – think, how resilient your career is to possible changes and “career stresses”. What resources of resilience your current career has in terms of adaptability, competences, application possibilities, expertise, etc.
- Do not ignore and neglect issues. Mental health specialists would say that the more mental health issues are ignored and not dealt with, the more difficult situations we usually need to deal with later. It is the same with our careers – do not ignore and neglect issues you feel are problems or risks, try to build prevention plans, look for help, design “self help” mechanisms.
- Reflect and invest into diverse professional network. Mental health, especially our ability to cope, is positively related to social network we have. It is the same with career – meaningful and rich professional network is important for career health.
- Be informed about reality. According World Health Organization 1 out of 4 people in the world will be affected by mental or neurological disorder at some point in their lives. I guess even more of us will be in anxiety provoking career “cross-road” at some points of our lives. It is ok. let’s not live in illusion, that “this will never happen to me”. It is quite common. Not necessarily terrifying. We will go through this, though taking care of “career health” could help significantly.
- Nourish your energy. Mentally healthy people have energy. They have integrated experiences of their past, they have aspiration in their lives. They are creative. They do not have significant levels of energy draining because of some unresolved conflicts or problems. Same with career. What is the level of energy in your career? How can you make sure you do not feel drained?
The list could continue. Though I would like to finish on a note about diversity. Mental health is also related with being accepted as you are. I hope we can all spend some time to ensure we are accepted as “true self” professionals and can bring all ourselves to work we love. Not that it is healthy to work 24/7. Not that we will love our work 24/7. But so that we would feel taking care about ourselves and our careers 24/7.