Understanding the Importance of Mental Health in the Engineering Community
It’s important to know that your mental health should be just as important to yourself as it is to the people around you. So why do lots of men still not want to talk about their mental well-being? There is a huge stigma surrounding male mental health and the less it’s addressed, the less people are going to want to openly stand and talk about their problems. By suppressing the issue, we are allowing people to become victimised and pushed aside in society, don’t you think it’s about time that we started helping these people again?
How can mental illness affect your job search?
Your job is a huge part of your life and you should be able to reach your goals without employers misjudging you. Job seekers suffering from mental illness may think the job-hunting process can be very difficult, more difficult than it already is. There are many illnesses that can affect the way you search for jobs. Illnesses like anxiety and depression can cause you to feel so exhausted all the time. You may often feel like an underachiever because you don’t feel motivated enough to get up and look and that is far from being your fault. There are so many different mental illnesses that affect so many people. We may not be aware of all the details happening in someone’s life, so always act with caution.
Symptoms of depression can include:
- Tiredness and loss of energy
- Sadness that doesn’t go away and you have no control over
- Loss of self confidence
- Difficulty concentrating
- Avoiding other people
- Loss of appetite
Symptoms of Anxiety may include:
- Irregular heart beat
- Feeling light headed or dizzy
- Feeling restless and unable to complete tasks
- Churning feeling in your stomach
- Problems sleeping
It is very obvious to see how these few symptoms can drastically affect your current job or your job-seeking journey. However, it is not limited to just these two illnesses and symptoms may differ between people. If you are someone that suffers from any form of mental illness, it’s very easy to be submerged by the feelings that come with the illness. Sometimes it may feel almost impossible to handle your day to day life, let alone the pressures of a job, so this can be an extremely difficult part of your life. It’s important to take breaks and give yourself time whenever you fell you may need it. It is sometimes easier said than done but try and talk to someone about your job search. See if they can help you out or if they may know anyone that may be of interest. Talking to someone about your journey can potentially help you find a job right for you and take your mind of other things. It can be good to focus on something positive, like a single goal. Trying to surround yourself with positive people, like your friends and family, this can have amazing effects on your mood. It may even be possible to get connections through your friends and family and networking this way, may make you feel more comfortable. Make sure not to push yourself too hard, just like any other job-seeker, if the job is for you, it’ll happen. Try not to let small bumps affect your whole outlook on the situation.
As stated above, many symptoms of depression and anxiety, as well as other illnesses, can also cause physical problems to your health, although not all symptoms may be visible. This is something a lot of people over look and which is why people that don’t suffer from mental illness, may underestimate the kind of power it can have over an individual. Causing physical illness, like vomiting and sleep deprivation are just a couple of examples showing how damaging an illness like this can affect your personal life and job life. Your career has always stereotypically been a way to measure your success, but it may be better not to think of it this way. Symptoms like this can seriously hinder your job search and employers should learn to be more involved in their employee’s recovery. Mental illness is something everyone should be more vocal about, it’s the only way more people can learn. Sometimes Engineering can be a lonely industry to work in, so when you feel alone, try and keep personal and job life at an equally healthy balance. If it’s needed, take the time to step back. Your career is important, but your health should be prioritised.
“With anything in life, mental health plays an intricate part in the dealing and effectiveness of success; no are more affected by this than job-seekers. For men, the effects that mental health can have can be extremely profound, numerous and ultimately detrimental. We see the average stresses that job seekers go through mentally every day in our current economic climate through social media, the news etc. – but for men the dynamic of that stress is different. For instance, men with mental health problems are less than likely to ask for help; a form of weakness society has intricately reinforced throughout modern history. When looking for work or being unemployed it can be daunting to be alone, but with mental health problems that is magnified and through technology, the negative effects it can have are increased tenfold.” – Anonymous
Male Mental Health
There has always been a very clear image of the ‘man’ and we cannot deny that we have grown up and been presented with a particular male stereotype. Men are supposedly meant to be a father figure, someone to look up to, a protector. With this glorified image, it is suggested that men should always show strength and power and when they fail to do this, they fail as a man. This is wrong. We need to understand that not everyone is the same, no one should ever feel like they have to live up to expectations. Sometimes attempting to reach an extremely high standard stereotype can do more harm than good. People need to stop expecting perfection from people, we’re all only human. Instead of imprinting an inaccurate image in their minds, let them know that it is okay to be different. Everyone can have vulnerable moments and in order to break the stigma surrounding male mental health, we need to give them the chance to speak without judgement. No one is perfect, not men and not women. We need to get rid of over-used phrases like “Man-up”. You’d think with all the advances we have made over the years, we’d understand that people are okay to feel, no matter their gender. In order to break the stigma, we need to talk about it.
Make sure you Talk.
Ask Someone if you think something is bothering them.
Be there to Listen when they open up to you.
Encourage them to go that little further and get some help.
Don’t leave it at that, Check In on them, make sure they are getting better.
According to Mentalhealth.org, there has been 50% more suicide cases with men than women and it is the main cause of death for men between the ages of 20-49, those are shocking numbers. With numbers that shocking, we need to embrace our emotions, be courageous, even though it is easier said than done, and stand up for men, it is worth the fight. Mind have stated that one in eight men, have struggled alone with a mental illness. Communities can be doing so much more to help people in need and show some support. Families, friends and employers need to know what to do if they notice any changes. It is sadly not always preventable but letting them in and giving them a chance to talk can have extremely positive benefits. We need to understand the affects this has had on men for a number of years, yes, they need to talk, but we need to listen. We cannot dismiss their words as “man-flu” or “mansplaining” anymore. What we cannot do is eagerly get people to express what they’ve been feeling and then find another excuse. It’s enough of excuses and time for action.
Is it okay for employers to ask about mental health status before a job offer has been made?
The answer to this is no. It is not okay for employers to ask about any medical history you may have before they have formally offered you a place at the company. This can cause unintentional discrimination against the interviewee. Whether the interviewer had good intentions or not, it is illegal to ask any question like this at the beginning stages of an interview. There is not only the legal side of things, but personal questions may make candidates feel uncomfortable and can affect their confidence. This is not okay, and any discrimination being made should be taken seriously.
The employer can ask whether you may need any reasonable adjustments for the interview process, whether you think you will be able to complete the job or if you have anything you may need help with. These are general questions and can be accepted as being fair and polite. Make sure you are not put in an uncomfortable position just because they have no knowledge on the subject, know your worth.
If you are currently employed – What should your employer be doing for you?
It may seem hard to find a job when you are having personal problems but holding onto your current job can be extremely difficult as well. You can sometimes expect too much of yourself and un-needed pressure can only worsen the situation. So, if you have a long-lasting employment or you’ve succeeded in securing your next opportunity, there are a lot of things your employer should take into consideration.
- They should be there to support you
- The company should value knowledge on mental illness and have someone in the workplace to help people with their situation
- There should be designated employees to ensure people are aware of any problems that may not be visible – Not all illnesses can be seen
- Try and make an effort with their employees – Your employer should take the time to talk to you and give you an opportunity to talk. (Not a problem if you don’t want to share, just knowing someone cares can be enough)
- You have the right to a safe working environment
Knowing that you have certain rights in the job place can make you feel much more at ease. Employers need to make you feel your worth and never make you feel worse about a bad situation.
When it comes to your mental state, there’s not much advice I can give you. All symptoms and troubles a person may have are completely unique to that individual. Your job search can make you feel inadequate to other candidates and I have only noted very few of the symptoms and mental illnesses. It’s highly important that you take the time you need in your job search and go about it in your own way, that’s the only way you will succeed. Everyone can need a bit of encouragement now and then and it’s important to know that there are people you can talk to. Your job search is about you. Treat it as one big goal broken up into smaller goals. You can be drastically affected by so many things that other people may not understand and as long as you are doing this for you, you will succeed.
We acknowledge that there is still a gender disparity in engineering, it’s very important to remember that mental health can affect anyone, no matter their gender, age or any other factor. You should be able to have access to help no matter what your situation, this article is based around male mental health due to the seriousness of the issue.
If you need further information and help on this topic, there are some numbers you can call and websites you can visit to further help your job search.