Why does World Mental Health Day matter to contractors?

The reality is that raising awareness of mental health issues should matter to all of us. It is one of those issues which has been a taboo subject for far too long and only in recent years is it starting to become ‘OK’ to talk about it. The statistics around just how many people are affected by mental health are astonishing and frightening in equal measure. But what can be done?

What reassures me is that the growing encouragement to speak out about personal issues, like these, means more people are able to get the support and help they need. That is why days like World Mental Health Day, on 10th October, are so important – because the more we talk about our stories, the closer we get to our happier endings.

Top tips for contractors

The term ‘mental health’ covers a wide spectrum of situations and challenges. I am no expert on the subject, but what I do know is that contractors have to deal with unique working conditions and scenarios that people with ‘proper jobs’ might not always understand. I also know that the pressures associated with contractor work can be far greater than even their friends and family can understand: and all too often that can be the catalyst for slipping into dark places…

One of the biggest issues affecting contractors today is simply the fact that they often work alone.

People choose a contractor career for a number of reasons. For some it is the idea of self-governance, for others the chance to maximise remuneration, a few might have been forced there by redundancy and many simply like working alone. But even among those who prefer sole-working, everyone needs a little bit of like-minded company from time-to-time. Here are a few tips on good ways to mingle with people who ‘do’ understand:

  1. Meet other contractors or freelancers for lunch: There are hundreds out there and if you don’t know any we might be able to make a few introductions. If anyone could possibly know what life is like for you as a contractor; surely it is other contractors. Meeting people during the day also has the added benefit of breaking up your day – nothing eases the mind like a distraction.
  2. Join networking groups: There is a dual benefit here too, because networking might even be the place where you find your next contract. But, for many contractors, the biggest benefit of being part of a networking group is that it can become a kind of support system. It is a great place to meet mentors, advisors, fellow contractors and other service providers.
  3. Work in public places: Sometimes you don’t even need to find people to talk to: for some sole-workers, simply being around other people is enough. As human beings, we are social creatures, and even for those of us who don’t do ‘people’ just being near them can help. If you are near Watford, why not drop in to the Meades Café for a coffee and a chat? You will find full details in our next newsletter.

My final piece of advice, if you (or anybody you know) is suffering from mental health issues, is to take the lead suggested by the World Mental Health Day organisers – and that is to speak up and get support. Even if you just feel that the pressure of contractor work is getting a bit too much – there would be no harm in finding out what help is available.

And, of course, if any of the team here at Meades can help – we have great listening ears.