We all need to regularly check ourselves for physical signs of dis-ease, don’t we? You know the sort of thing, Body Mass Index, lumps and bumps in various places, moles and marks on our skin. What do we do when we discover any of the above? The best practice is to take a trip to the GP. Why? To chat it through, to find out if there is anything to worry about. Then, if further investigation is needed we are referred for more support. If we discover that our BMI is too high we may be encouraged to join a gym and look at what food and drink we consume. The worse practice is to ignore it until it’s too late. How many people do you know who have done just that and barely survived to tell the tale?
But what about our mental health? How do you keep an eye on that?
In the recent days, mental health has been highlighted by their Royal Highnesses William and Harry, as they discussed the death of their mother Princess Diana, and their subsequent need to deal with their own mental health.
Why would they start to open up what could be a can of worms in the public eye? I believe they discovered that there is a need to face the often assumed, shame connected with issues around mental health, in order to reframe it and thus prove that we rediscover strength when we speak out pain and find a voice. They discovered that in order to function mentally well as the men they are, they had to face their loss to restore themselves fully.
So, what about you, are you having a bad day, or even a run of them?
Does this ring a bell?
- Every day you wake up tired.
- Every day you dread going into the office.
- You go to work, and manage, just, to get through that important meeting.
- Every day finds you taking deep breaths in the toilets to get a grip on yourself.
- Your marriage is struggling.
- Your relationships are strained
- Sleep is difficult to come by.
- Thoughts roam in free-will fashion around your head.
- You need that drink at the end of the day.
- And there is no peace.
As you scan the above list you may think that this is for someone else, not you. It can’t be because, you are in charge and cannot show any weakness. You are the person everyone relies on. You are the one on whom others pour their troubles. You have an image to maintain. Sharp suit, sharp mind. Everyone is looking at you expecting you to come up with the goods as usual, and you do.
But, inside you are cracking up, inside you are struggling to get out your words. Inside you know you are imploding, really you know somewhere deep inside, that you must let out the pressure or risk everything.
So, what’s to be done?
Firstly, we must take a sober look at the state of affairs.
- London loves business states that pulling a sickie is costing the UK economy £900million. It states that 1:7 SME workers fake an illness and take 3 days off a year! It also states that they don’t take their full holiday quota and that they are frequently contacted when they are on holiday too!
- 20 per cent of 18-34-year-olds respond to work emails when off sick due to guilt, more than any other age range
- One in five (19 per cent) pulled a sickie to avoid a situation at work, such as a stressful meeting – with more men than women likely to revert to a sickie (22 per cent vs 15 per cent)
- One in three managers have contacted staff while on holiday (36 per cent)
For business to truly thrive, good practice must be modelled from the top down. Boundaries must be maintained to ensure the well-being of staff and thus maintain the bottom line.
If your staff suffer with anything on the above list you can ensure they don’t believe they are listened to, and most likely they are not. If you are the boss who contacts his or her staff when they are not in the office, you can be pretty sure that you are not balanced in how you live your life.
What can be done?
- Firstly, understand stress. As we no longer have to chase the odd woolly mammoth for lunch, we have no way of burning off the excess stress hormones. So, we must exercise, or meditate, deliberately and on purpose, spending time looking at ourselves with clear eyes. It’s about mindfulness. This in turn will go some way to support our sleep patterns, and even our weight gain or loss.
- Next, if you are in a position of authority be curious about mental health and well-being.
- Seek professional support to help you to understand the signs of ill health.
- Have an atmosphere of open dialogue and thus start to remove the stigma of shame.
- Be more balanced and make sure that your staff know you are.
- Put in place guidelines regarding good working practice.
- Talk to people face to face.
- Turn in your chair and listen.
Mental resilience will only improve if we start to acknowledge that shame in regard to mental health must be obliterated. Shine a light and bring it out of the shadows so that it can be extinguished. We are body, mind and spirit after all, and all parts need care.
The bottom line is this, your staff are your bottom line.