Mental Health Week 2023 - 'Anxiety'

Today is the start of Mental Health Awareness Week with the theme this year on anxiety.

It’s something so important for us all to talk about as we all experience anxiety in some way as human beings - it’s built into us and enables us to survive. As with most things, it’s when what’s considered a normal level of anxiety changes and when feeling anxious starts to interfere with our normal daily lives that we may need to seek some help and support.

I’ve heard the term ‘permacrisis’ over the last few months in social media and during some wellbeing events I’ve attended. I’m not going to join the debate about the term and whether it’s right, wrong, true or false. I think this generation and those in the past could all argue what we are facing now or what was faced in the past is harder, worse or unrelenting but the simple fact is we need to accept there is and there always will be something to generate anxiety in all of us as human beings. This is why it’s important we all take steps to recognise what causes us anxiety and what we do to alleviate it. For some people this comes naturally, without maybe even realising they have built coping mechanisms to deal with or even prevent them from feeling anxious. They may also be lucky enough to have a lifestyle, support and things around them that can help them successfully deal with any anxieties in their lives.

However, for many that’s not the case and why it’s so important we talk about it so we raise awareness and ensure people know anxiety is common and affects us all. If someone talks to you about their anxiety, it can be really hard to know what to say. Firstly, you are not a health professional and therefore not expected to always say the right things. What’s important is to listen, don’t judge and just be human. Instead of offering advice straight away, ask what can you do to help. Being there for someone and letting them know they’re not alone is important. You might also want to ask if they want to do something to help take their mind off things. I would love to hear what people are doing this week on this topic, their thoughts and what resources are interesting or people found helpful.

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Thank you for sharing your very powerful post, @ajwilson.

For those reading this, there’s a playlist of mental health-related talks. They are open to all:

Plus this helpful thread:

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This week I have been involved in several discussions that are really interesting and useful but also intense and involve disagreements. I’ve been finding it stressful but to help manage it I’ve (politely) turned away some people coming to me with other things to think about, and sought out relatively relaxed activities (like MoT!) inbetween meetings

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What a fabulous idea! You never know also what you might need if travelling for a conference etc. Great shout.

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Thank you for this post. :heart:

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Had no idea that this calendar week event was a thing :slight_smile: Nice.

The concept of us going into a mental health epidemic really started in 2020, and never ended. We gave up ground to so many things, we gave up our face-to-face colleague time, and many other things. Today we are madly reclaiming some, but not all of that. So no surprises here. I have gotten a lot of personal feedback about my own mental state lately. A year or 2 ago I was super grumpy (basically grumpier than usual) I was actually happy in my grumpiness, and I decided to change that last year. It was pushing people away from me. Being comfortable in my self-created solitude had however been a problem too. I have done a few mechanical online things over a year to beat my grumpiness back, and it has made a noticeable difference, even if it has been experimental in nature.

And so I want to just shout out to people who are watching all the ADHD diagnosis or miss-diagnosis news hitting the media right now. Pay attention, this is probably part of your make-up, do take a look. I sat down for a beer last weekend with a mate who I trust. I was complaining about work and how people hate change. I am always trying to be the change in a meeting, by suggesting new things, but my ideas never land well at all. And he said, are I might just be a bit autistic, and are struggling with RSD (Rejection Sensitivity Disphoria. And wow, that has gotten me thinking all over again. I know I am hyper as well, although lately I am pretty bad hyper due to other pressures. And I’m too old for a test and diagnosis, but you might not be, and you will definitely be able to benefit from learning the coping techniques. Anyway, last week I started running through training materials on better communication, and I really hope that more folk can be encouraged to take time out to understand how to manage their own emotional state. I know you all do go spare a bit. Be kind to yourself.

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This is my opinion only and I’m most certainly not a mental health professional, but I get the feeling that we’re just a bit too eager to slap a label on it and call it “done” when it comes to mental health issues. And I have properly diagnosed mental health issues which are caused by neurological issues (which are not the same beastie).

This is the important bit. Unless/until the emotional/mental health issues are too severe to be managed by monitoring yourself and actively acting to mitigate them, one of the best things anyone can do for their mental health is to learn to understand their mental state and how to manage it.

It’s possible to avert many potential mental health crises this way - if someone can catch their issues becoming more active, they can use a variety of techniques to settle things back to something approximating normal.

In the same vein, if you see someone who looks like they could use a bit of a kind word or some help, don’t be afraid to offer. There are times when that bit of unlooked-for kindness can be the difference between giving up and finding a bit of strength to hang on for a little longer.

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Thanks Kate, good to know I am on a page that matters. I have always looked at other people struggling with imposter syndrome continuously as just being “unstable” or scary. I have worked with a few odd ones, and generally found that being the ‘bull in a china shop’ that I am, around people who need more consideration just too tiring a job emotionally. We just don’t get much help from HR often on how to deal with and play nice with others. I’m terrible at reading people, a fact I have been aware of for decades, but for me that never ever chimed with me possibly being on the spectrum. So this last year or two has been a gentle discovery journey in many ways. I really hope I can now be a slightly more constructive team member.

I can recommend to everyone who works with people they feel uncomfortable around to just reach out to their HR team and to also get some reading and training materials off their own bat too.

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To help with my Mental Health I try to make 1 short video a week on the topic.
Not complicated, not to much and not to litte, just enough to make me smile, to make my day, to help me going all the way.

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Oh, so am I. Everything I know about reading people has been consciously learned, so I get that it’s challenging if you’re not one of those fortunate souls who naturally understands other people.

The balance between telling it like it is - which can be too blunt for a lot of people - and being so gentle the point gets lost is a delicate one. The best advice I can offer there is to focus on the issue and not the person. Sometimes, especially when you’re around people who are more sensitive to the atmosphere around them or more emotionally needy, the best you can do is express sympathy for whatever is causing them trouble and add a bunch of nods, “uh-huh”, and “that must be hard for you” type comments.

I second the recommendation to reach out to the HR team. The nature of software development has for years been the kind of environment where raging introverts with difficulty passing for normal could thrive (speaking as one of said raging introverts with difficulty passing for normal). Learning how to interact with regular folks is hard. HR tends to attract people who know how to deal with other people.

It is possible to learn how to interact reasonably well with other people, and there are courses out there that help. HR teams can often point you to these courses if you ask them.

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I quite like the “be brave enough to be bad at something new” image

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um this is an entire playlist! blooming hey do you use an AI to build these?

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Good topic to be aware of it.
Anxiety is my permanent condition now - some days are better, and others are worse.
I used to live with it.

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Nope. No AI. I use an online tool and edit text, music and duration.

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