Why mental health is critical for young professionals’ success

By The Space Between US

When you become the master of your mind, you are master of everything.”

Swami Satchidananda

Resilience, the ability to handle and bounce back from challenges, is becoming an increasingly important skill in today’s working world.  At The Space Between Us, we strongly believe that mental health is the foundation for the wellbeing and optimal functioning of every individual in their work and personal life.

Let us tackle some key questions you might have:

What is mental health?

It’s the ability to harness your mind as a tool to help you be grounded in who you are, have amazingly supportive relationships, work through life’s storms, bounce back, work productively, and live your best life. It is the also about our ability to contribute to our community and or things larger than us. Mental health speaks to how our brain is wired which then impacts how we think, feel, see the world and behave. 

Whereas mental illness refers to shifts  in our thinking, our emotions and/or behaviours that create distress and impaired functioning, in family, work and social relationships. Mental illness is often a result of chemical changes in the brain and more often than not has a family history.

We should think about mental health on a continuum. On the one hand of the continuum is the ability to thrive and manage our stressors effectively and on the far end of the spectrum is feeling totally out of control and out of touch with the reality as we move closer to  mental illness.  In reality, all of us move between these extremes in different seasons of our lives, depending on what stressors we have, what skills we have to manage them and how our relationships are holding us.  

According to the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG), 1 in 3 South Africans have a mental illness. This translates to roughly 20 million people (a third of people in our country).

Why don’t we know more about mental illness when it has such a devastating effect?

Physical illnesses like Cancer, or Diabetes, often draw major public support while mental illness tends to attract negative descriptions and stigmatisation. This type of fear of the unknown, shaming and value judgment has been key in forcing discussions on mental illness underground and its sufferers feeling isolated and blamed rather than supported. 

What tools can we use to make ourselves mentally strong and resilient?

Feel your emotions, they contain vital information. While not all emotions are pleasant it’s important to allow emotions to run their course.  Name them so they move from the shadows into a space you can start tackling them.

Learn to recognise and be prepared for situations, challenges or stresses that impact you more negatively and experiment with ways to manage them.

Connect with other people with empathy and understanding. Focus on finding trustworthy and compassionate people who know your story and validate your feelings. This will create a community and help you feel less isolated.

Consider what gives your life meaning to improve your mood and mental well-being.

Take time to look back and celebrate new skills you have learned.

Seek professional help and tools to support you in your journey.

What are the telling signs that could mean your mental health needs attention?

Mental health is about being able to cope with the normal stresses of life, to work productively and fruitfully, and to be able to contribute to our community. It includes our well-being at an emotional (how I feel anger, fear, joy, passion, love, shame and guilt), psychological (being in touch with reality, how my mind is wired to respond) and social (how I connect to people and they to me) level. 

When we are unable to do this, and when we have ruled out physical causes of not being able to connect to others, cope with life, contribute and be productive at work we may be moving towards injury  on the continuum. 

How can the Young Professionals Programme help me to be mentally strong and successful?

Prevention is better than cure.  We believe in a pre-emptive approach, by providing you with the skills to help you proactively manage your mental health, develop the mental resilience to deal with the ebbs and flow of work and home life, and prevent mental illness.

Our workshops and interventions will enable you to grow in your career by: 

●  Understanding and developing your sense of self and your belief in your own worth and ability to take control.

●  Developing insights, skills, appropriate empathy and boundaries in interactions with those around you.  

●  Understanding how identity (including race and gender identity) develops and impacts the way you relate both in the workplace and outside.

●  Developing mechanisms for protection when overwhelming experiences happen to you and being able to appropriately handle conflict situations.

●  Understanding how to integrate the various aspects of your life and prevent burnout.

Click here to read more about how our programmes support you to thrive.