I wrote todays post after reading the following article that a friend had brought to my attention.
Although it was posted in support of International Women’s Day it did remind me of the battle I am having with certain people who seem to be making a big deal about a change in direction for my business and this article instantly reminded me not to let anyone influence your decisions and to do what makes you happy.
So, as this article struck a chord I felt compelled to write that I will not apologise for being myself, where I take my business or bringing my own Mental Health story out in the open.
When I first decided to set up Mente it was on the back of contract work I was doing via my consultancy and my own personal experience and understanding of mental health in the workplace. I didn’t plan to be involved with so many people suffering from mental health in the UK, Europe and Asia but it just happened and so offering guidance became second nature over the years.
I knew when I decided to get more involved in this area that I would be met not only by the haters who think we should follow the sheep into the matrix rather than do anything different, by the doubters who might be uncomfortable with my subject and openness, I mean why on earth would I put my personal life out in the open… and then those who knew me and remember the ghastly time I had and their concern for me in digging up my past.
The reality is if we do not talk about it openly then we do not end the stigma and if I can help one person with their battle than I am extremely proud to be labelled an oversharer.
Last week the IOD met to discuss Mental Health in the work place and reiterated that “Stress is the health epidemic of the 21st century”. Yet there are still many who are willing to discuss intimate matters of what’s going on with their body but will not talk about what’s going on in the brain, the most complex organ causing half of the problems our body has!
The stigma is still very much a problem no matter how much press coverage we give it.
Most of my associates are aware of my background but for those who missed the show at 32 years old and a mother of one, after a significant life change and a spell of workplace bullying I suffered a very public Mental Breakdown.
If we think there is stigma in 2017 you have no idea what I had to endure in 2006.
After eventually seeking help I was eventually diagnosed with Generalised Anxiety and Anorexia Nervosa a truly awful time for me and my family, Support was never given by my company who for the most part contributed to my attacks with only one manager ever apologising and admitting to bullying before he was made redundant and left in a scrapheap (karma).
I was incredibly lucky to overcome my eating battle after many years of therapy; however, my anxiety was never to leave and like a diabetic who needs insulin I accepted many years ago, that I am programmed for it and must manage it which for the most part is easy enough.
I started talking openly about my battle about 5 years back because it was important people understood my behaviour as many would dismiss my anxiety attacks as drama queen moments to avoid spoiling the ambience of booze and banter, the reality is anxiety can be far worse than that.
However, Mente didn’t come about due to my own illness, it came about because I was living it and breathing it through other people who turned to me for help of which I was more than happy to offer support.
While working with two organisations over the course of nine months I had to intervene on several incidents which included witnessing the owners and others cause mental distress to their staff and work colleagues. At the time, I just remember instantly jumping in to help and trying to ease the pain of those suffering and explain to those causing it how unacceptable it was.
Months later while involved as an advocate in a breach of health and safety and the cause of this person’s mental wellbeing I began looking at mental health for my own understanding of those suffering.
What started as morbid fascination of understanding became studying, sitting exams and working with people on how they view it. I started to do work with local and national mental health charities sharing my own experiences and then trained to deliver workshops to the workplace which would be incorporated into the training I offered with my own business.
And so, that is why my business changed direction because not only do I know about this illness personally I am passionate about helping others to understand it.
So, before anyone dismisses mental health as a problem and thinks it won’t ever affect them I would suggest you read the latest stats and even if you are never unfortunate to suffer just remember that one in four people will, and that person might just be a partner, child, family member or colleague so please do educate yourself on the matter.
A national survey undertaken with research partner YouGov in October 2016 heard from nearly 20,000 people in work across the UK. The findings showed
• 77% of employees have experienced poor mental health – 33% in the that month alone
• 62% of employees have experienced poor mental health where work was a contributing factor
• Managers underequipped and unsupported to respond to mental health in work
• Bosses are disconnected from reality of employees’ experiences of mental health
Mind.Org recently released:
• More than one in five (21 per cent) agreed that they had called in sick to avoid work when asked how workplace stress had affected them
• 14 per cent agreed that they had resigned and 42 per cent had considered resigning when asked how workplace stress had affected them
• 30 per cent of staff disagreed with the statement ‘I would feel able to talk openly with my line manager if I was feeling stressed’
• 56 per cent of employers said they would like to do more to improve staff wellbeing
Mental Health is a growing epidemic and ignoring it won’t make it go away.
As Prof Neena Modi said “take the stones that are thrown at you and use them to build great successes”