LinkedIn is known as the ‘Facebook” of business where we can share interests, projects, make meaningful connections and join some great networking groups to learn and develop. That sounds a great resource.

Usually, if I’m hoping to do business with someone – I’ll check out what their social media profile is like and that of their company. After all, in business time is precious and a costly resource if wasted chasing the wrong potential contacts.

I must admit, I check out people on LinkedIn all the time. Pre-pandemic, before any event I went to – its a great resource to discover common goals and potential mutually beneficial business collaboration opportunities. Makes networking conversations much more interesting!

From the approaches I’ve had to connect in recent weeks, I’m starting to question am I alone in doing this research?

I understand the need for all businesses to secure new clients to grow their business once the pandemic restrictions are lifted but I almost feel LinkedIn is a sales platform not a collaboration platform for business.

I’ve been contacted by individuals from organisations wanting to sell their excellent products to me, clearly without doing any research first to see if I have staff, premises – which I don’t so why would I need cleaning, roofing or similar services?. 

There seems to be little thought in sending something like this that would definitely gain my interest – ‘I’ve seen your profile. I believe we have some common goals that could lead to mutually beneficial, collaborative business. Are you interested in a discussion?’

Instead I get approaches like ‘my cleaning company will deliver an excellent service to you at a competitive rate’

In other instances, I’ve had the creative approaches including “how meeting-up when restrictions are lifted to discuss what you are doing?” I’m all for being unique but this made me think what a @@@@@@

So in asking you if there is a better way to do business via LinkedIn, I have my own thoughts that I share with you now:

  1. Do your research for example with Companies House – find out if there could be an opportunity to do business – not just one way sales for you.
  2. Think of the words and tone you use – remember these can completely change the meaning of what you intended
  3. What’s in it for the individual/business you are reaching out to?

I’d be interested in your thoughts ……

MHFA or I-act – what’s better and good value for money?

That’s a question I’ve been asked many times.  My answer is always the same.  Both are excellent tools in their respective areas.  To decide which one best meets your needs consider what your goal is.  If you don’t do this you could end up wasting valuable resources.

The global pandemic has highlighted the mental wellbeing and resilience levels of us all. The spotlight is now on growing positive mental health, wellbeing and resilience to ensure we all flourish going forward.

With the pathway to the planned June 21st lifting of all restrictions in England, astute employers are considering how best to empower their staff with the right tools to look after themselves and ensure a positive workplace.

I’ve delivered both MHFA and i-act courses.  Below are the key highlights of each for me.

MHFA – an excellent tool for a deeper dive into mental ill health conditions, legislation, how to start a conversation, investigating the risk of suicide etc.  The manual accompanying the MHFA Adult First Aider course is double the thickness of the i-act manual and accordingly robust in the detail it contains.   Devised in Australia around 2000 by Betty Kitchener and Professor Anthony Jorm to be a first aid programme for mental ill health, it is now in over 25 countries. Instructors can only deliver in the country they trained in.   Three courses for adults include the full first aider 2 day course, 1 day champion course and half day awareness course.  MHFAEngland also has bespoke courses for those working with the Armed Forces community and young people.  All completing delegates receive a certificate of attendance.  Core components of the First Aider course are:

Why the need for Mental Health First Aid – action plan, what is mental health? impact of mental health issue, stigma and discrimination

What is depression – signs/symptoms, first aid for depression and suicidal crisis, self-care

Anxiety, eating disorders and self-harm

Psychosis, recovery and mental health action planning

i-act – wellbeing, resilience and positive mental health tool written specifically for the workplace.  The manual contains over 50 tools to support self-care.  These can easily be used when supporting someone else to evidence their mood and wellbeing. Evidence based, courses carry CPD points for onward formal learning and delegates receive a certificate accredited by Royal College of Psychiatrists.  

Post completion, delegates can access news, tools, templates from i-act’s website. Its unique design means Instructors can deliver the programme internationally regardless of where they are based.  I-act delivers specialist mental health and well-being training to executives, senior and line managers as well as a general awareness course for employees/front-line workers.  

The first part of i-act covers core areas of generic mental health programmes in an inclusive, easy to understand manner.  

These include chapters on:

Mental Health Wellbeing and Resilience

Understanding Low Mood and Depression

Understanding Stress, Anxiety and Anxiety Disorders

Understanding Psychosis

Understanding Personality Disorders and Dissociative Disorders

Issues which may affect someone’s Mental Health and Wellbeing

Other signs of distress

Before concentrating on its unique pillars:

I – Improve Wellbeing

A –Advocate & Access Further Help & Support

C – Connect & Communicate with People

T – Take Tools & Advice

E – Evaluate & Monitor Any Interventions

D – Development Tools and Skills

Conclusion

Both products can be delivered virtually or classroom based.

If your goal is to give a deep understanding of mental ill-health issues or want a mental health equivalent of your physical first aiders, MHFA would be a great tool to consider. I feel the robustness of the manual also gives a solid foundation for those interested in the field of mental health possibly considering a career as a therapist/counsellor.

However, if you are looking for easy to use tools any employee can use to build resilience and a mentally healthy workplace with an easy to use colour co-ordinated manual, i-act would be the product I would recommend.

As with anything, know your goal first to make the right choice.  This will ensure you spend your limited resources well and attain your desired goal. 

Empowering Women

Recently, Labour MP Jess Phillips won special dispensation from the Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons to b real time limits and read out a list of over 100 women killed by male violence over the past year.

The list of names was supplied by Karen Ingala Smith from the Counting Dead Women Project.

A few things struck me:

  1. First, how sad it is that there is a need for Counting Dead Women Project.

2. A number of the women on the list read out by Jess would have likely experienced months/years of anxiety, depression, feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness or being abused in their own homes as well as on the streets

3. Why aren’t we more shocked about the violence experienced by our mothers, sisters, daughters?

It is a huge problem with no easy, one size fix solution. For me, in situations of domestic violence, empowerment and self belief is key. No one can move forward when they believe the negativity drip fed to them over time by their abuser(s).

I have delivered empowerment components to all participants of the employment programmes I’ve compiled from the Real Apprentice to Growing Talent. Throughout lockdown, I’ve delivered various workshops voluntarily including empowerment to clients of JobCentre Plus.

In these workshops we discussed:

  • Definition of empowerment
  • What stops us moving forward
  • Dealing with procrastination
  • Personal roadmap
  • Identifying your purpose
  • Selfcare toolkit

Feedback on the workshops included:

“This workshop helped me change and adapt a more positive mindset to navigate the hard times in life” Chui Yen

“I learned that we should not be afraid to take risks, face our fears no matter the circumstances and to not hold back.” Elizabeth P.

“The atmosphere was relaxed and hearing the facilitators experiences put things in perspective. The session was very clear and stuck to the point.” Karen

“I loved the session. In 2 hours a huge amount of thought provoking points.” Magda

” I have learnt new techniques to empower myself” Malie

“I will definitely be adopting the tools shared – affirmations, 5 second brain hack etc” Samantha

“The workshop was a good confidence boost and gave me alternative ways of looking at things. I gained more knowledge than I expected to” Trish

Out of these energising, interactive workshops, a request to form an on-going Womens’ Empowerment Network Group was requested. The inaugural one takes place tomorrow.

For me, building women’s self-confidence and self-worth is key to their empowerment to leave toxic relationships. Big journeys start with one single brave step.

Of course women’s empowerment is just one tool to improve society’s safety.

Thriving together.

Want to be a published author?

I know many people harbour a desire to write and publish for many years. Some never write their book(s) – let alone publish.

On the face of it, publishing book seems so difficult to do, when actually there is a lot of supportive websites the give step-by-step guidance.

For me, I just wanted to be able to say I’ve written a book and anyone can buy it – not necessarily make lots of money and/or get a best seller. It was just a personal goal I set myself about three years ago and took a look at every now and then adding extra bits here and there.

Lockdown in March 2020 was a period of reflection and determining some goals to achieve in the coming years.

One of these was to get a book published by the end of lockdown – although, I never expected this would be over a years later!

From my work over the last twenty years, my own personal experiences coupled with the pressure of lockdown on many people from diverse backgrounds, I realised what I had to say could be really helpful to some others who, like me years ago, want to change their lives but don’t know how or where to start.

I finished my book in early 2021 and asked some people who I knew had been through challenging times to read it. Both said it was inspirational and gave real steps and ideas people can utilise.

Thankfully, Kindle Direct Publishing, owned by Amazon, made it really easy from designing a cover to formatting the manuscript into hardbook, paperback or kindle versions. You can easily link the different formats which is so important to be inclusive to all pockets.

Of course, I really wanted a printed version to keep for myself. I selected the print quality, colours, size etc ad will make 79p for every paperback sold! Whilst it’s not as tactile as a paperback, the Kindle version is a great option for many.

It’s said everyone has a book in them. If, like me, you harbour an idea to publish, set yourself a challenge to do so. Believe me, it’s such a great feeling when you see it on the screen for others to buy if they want to.

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