Mental Health & Hearing Loss

Today is World Mental Health Day and the MIND charity reminds us that “mental health problems can affect anyone, any day of the year”. This year’s World Mental Health Day is focusing on workplace wellbeing and taking care of your mental health at work.

A lot of hearing loss charities this year have also focused campaigns on the workplace and it’s not hard to see why. The average individual spends 5 days, 36 hours a week in the workplace, that adds up to approximately 252 working days (excluding individual annual leave but including 8 days bank holiday) a year. We spend the majority of our lives at work so of course we should ensure that our workplace is a healthy, happy and supportive environment.

Living with mental health can impact on every part of your daily life and affect your relationships with family, friends, colleagues and most importantly, yourself.

Individuals who suffer from hearing loss are more likely to experience some form of mental and emotional issues. Past studies have shown that hearing loss left untreated can have a profound effect on your mental health with individuals more likely to suffer from anger issues, depression and anxiety which can all stem from feelings of isolation and inadequacy.

A recent study by the National Council on Aging[1] studied 2,300 individuals living with some form of hearing loss and found that they were 50% more likely to experience depression.  A further study in the Journal of American Medicine Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery conducted in 2014 also connected hearing loss with an increased risk of depression; the increased risk was found to be more common in women than men.

I’ve blogged before about the feeling of isolation hearing impaired individuals feel; unfortunately, social isolation is a common problem, whether self-inflicted or not and this can be a contributing factor in cognitive decline and also dementia, as reduced hearing leads to less brain stimulation.

It is important to seek medical advice if you think your hearing has declined and quickly – it is believed that the average person doesn’t seek support for hearing loss for an estimated seven years! This isn’t helped by societies view of the hearing impaired and the social stigma attached to the disability – often deafened individuals are thought to be ‘stupid’ or ‘ignorant’.

Mental health problems are ever increasing in our society and it is important that you look after your mental state, just as you would look after your physical health by going to the gym.

Here are some tips from MIND on how to look after your mental health at work;

Talk about your feelings – “Talking about your feelings isn’t a sign of weakness; it’s part of taking charge of your wellbeing and doing what you can to stay healthy.”

Keep active – “Regular exercise can boost your self-esteem and can help you concentrate, sleep, and look and feel better.”

Eat well – “What we eat can affect how we feel both immediately and in the longer term. A diet that is good for your physical health is also good for your mental health.”

Drink sensibly – “We often drink alcohol to change our mood. Some people drink to deal with fear or loneliness, but the effect is only temporary.”

Keep in touch – “Relationships are key to our mental health. Working in a supportive team is hugely important for our mental health at work.”

Ask for help – “one of us are superhuman. We all sometimes get tired or overwhelmed by how we feel or when things don’t go to plan.”

Take a break – “A change of scene or a change of pace is good for your mental health.”

Do something you’re good at – “What do you love doing? What activities can you lose yourself in? What did you love doing in the past? Enjoying yourself can help beat stress. Doing an activity you enjoy probably means you’re good at it, and achieving something boosts your self-esteem.”

Accept who you are – “We’re all different. It’s much healthier to accept that you’re unique than to wish you were more like someone else.”

Care for others – “Caring for others is often an important part of keeping up relationships with people close to you.”

[1] https://www.healthyhearing.com/report/52532-How-hearing-loss-can-impact-mental-health

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