The Impact Of Manual Labour On Mental Health

The Impact Of Manual Labour On Mental Health

Although it might not seem like it, mental health can have a massive impact on work, especially for those engaged in manual labour - and this is not discussed enough.

Mental health plays an important role in all aspects of work, from the way you engage with customers and clients, to colleagues, and even the way work is performed. If you find yourself irritable, angry, or just upset a lot, it could be a sign that there's something else lying under the surface that needs to be considered. 

A taboo subject

For decades, mental health has been one of those topics that gets shoved under the rug, never to be discussed. Male-dominated fields in particular, such as manual labour, have borne the brunt of the taboo. The need to keep up appearances, to avoid problems and not show weakness has long been a staple in society, and therefore diminished the role that mental health has on work. And with the physical demands that manual labour often takes, it becomes easier and easier to push mental health to the side, even if it is impacting work and the way a business is being run.

The connection between work and mental health

The truth is, you spend the majority of your life at work. Whether you're running a business or working under someone, a great deal of time is spent actually working, so keeping an eye on your mental health during this time is incredibly important. Because sometimes, negative thoughts and feelings may come without you even really realising it or paying attention, but it's easier to pinpoint when you know the signs.

Think about your work right now. Are you happy? Do you have the drive to push your business, to keep it growing and meet the demands of manual labour in its different forms? If you often find yourself feeling listless and tired, lethargic and unable to focus, it might be a sign that you need to tend to your mental health. Often, you'll find yourself easily distracted, jittery and nervous...or on the opposite end, you may feel like it's difficult to run things the way they are, to keep going. 

If you are not sure what to look for, Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists has put together some guidelines to help you identify the signs. While not an exhaustive list of symptoms and signs, it can give you a starting point when thinking about mental health.

  • low mood
  • little pleasure doing activities
  • fatigue
  • excessive guilt
  • feelings of hopelessness and helplessness

The common belief has always been that men don't talk about their feelings, and there's almost a weird kind of pressure to internalize negative thoughts rather than dealing with it. But mental health can impact across different spheres of life such as work very dramatically, and so it is important to move away from that belief. Male-dominated fields like manual labour tend to see this a lot, so it's doubly important to recognize, identify, and take steps towards improving your mental health when faced with this kind of thought.

What resources are available?

Luckily, no one is completely alone. There are a lot of resources available to identify and address mental health issues. Some of these include: 

  • Beyond Blue provides a lot of services around mental health, including helping find professionals, finding immediate support, as well as hosting online communities and forums for peer support.
  • Head to Health is an Australian government initiative that works to connect people to digital mental health resources, including crisis support phone lines and chat.
  • Mental Health Australia has put together links to different sources that can provide mental health assistance ranging from general to more specific sources.
  • The Australian Department of Health has also put together resources and directories for mental health services and providers so that people can find the care they need.

Ultimately, mental health is one of the most important things to tend to because it can impact so much of your life. Manual labour can often feel tough and isolating, but it does not have to be that way. As more people bring up the impact of mental health, the more its taboo nature sheds. Continuing that conversation and reaching out to others that may need help is incredibly important. These are some of the resources that are available to provide that service and to help people navigate through these issues while balancing work and family life.