What a week it’s been!

Kicking off Monday working with a great homeless organisation that supports homeless people no matter the issue – addiction, mental ill health, unemployment or supporting them on their palliative journey by delivering I-act’s accredited positive mental health and wellbeing course which teaches critical self awareness and self care.

These two traits are critical in making sure we are ‘top of our game’. No one can thrive without making self-care non-negotiable and built into their daily routines. Several timed wellbeing windows throughout the day even just a few minutes each – delivers resilience to deal with everything.

Next followed a pilot of two courses for a leading University with for some of their pharmacology graduates just before setting off to start their careers – including one delegate joining from overseas. Following the I-act training, this time Understanding and Promoting Positive Mental Health and Well being the are now equipped with the tools to practice self-care to build their resilience and support those around them.

Final course of the week was I-act’s Managing and Promoting Positive Mental Health and Wellbeing for the academic and campus staff of a leading Uni. Seeing the growth in their belief of how self-care was for them to thrive is inspiring:

In between running these courses, I’ve networked and developed the employers to be involved in the next Growing Talent – Employers’ Speed Dating on 17 June. Knowing that anyone they select will undergo an intense orientation and holistic week, before joining them on their sites, which includes the I-act Managing and Promoting Positive Mental Health and Wellbeing, so will be self aware of the critical need to practice self-care and know the tools to use in supporting those around them as well as the emotional intelligence to manage conflict and behaviours in the workplace.

Shining a light on our new Growing Talent Associates….

Last week was the 28th Orientation and Holistic element of Growing Talent! We covered a lot including:

  • Communication
  • Emotional intelligence and behavioural impact
  • Conflict styles and management
  • The power of body language
  • Nutrition on a budget – the perils to avoid
  • Wellbeing windows and non-negotiables
  • Basic finance tips and tricks
  • Workplace ettiquette
  • Case studies – what would you do in these real situations?
  • Facing fear and overcoming procrastination to move forward
  • Fake it until you become it
  • Automatic habits
  • Challenging thoughts
  • Schedule in self-care

Working from etc venues in Fenchurch Place, London Monday – Thursday last week, we enjoyed an energising breakfast, mid-morning break, full on lunch with hot and cold options, desserts and cheeses. Smoothies, vegetable shots and tea, coffee (in many different compilations) as well as water!

On Thursday Paul, Ella and Suaad’s prospective employer was able to join us for a networking lunch along with Anna and Mick from DWP. Ella, Florence and Suaad shared some of their experiences over the week and questioned Paul, Anna and Mick on how they had dealt with a range of things from Covid to conflict both at work and in their personal lives. I sat and listened with pride at how their confidence had grown over that few days. Our guests were very generous in sharing past and present experiences. Mick’s previous life in the Met Police gave a lot of insight that maybe we don’t always think about. It was a powerful reminder that everyone has a back story we usually know nothing about.

After the ‘grilling’, We had a sumptuous lunch together before departing for the week.

The feature photo above shows Ella, Suaad and Florence completing their @I-act Managing and Promoting Positive Mental Health and Wellbeing ready to use some of the tools and learning to empower their resilience in the workplace as well as support those around them where they feel safe to do so.

So what did Ella, Florence and Suaad think of they journey so far?

“I enjoyed all of the workshops and found them very informative- I didn’t necessarily have the most open mind (I generally don’t about lots of ‘work training’ things) in advance of attending but Jane’s attitude and openness made me want to attend. What I enjoyed the most (besides the food which was phenomenal) was being able to openly share my background, hopes and fears, experiences with others in such a safe and encouraging environment. So much about looking for work requires us to be constantly positive in attempts to oversell ourselves. What Jane does so well, and what I enjoyed the most, was being able to be a whole person- with room for improvement but a clear pathway to that improvement. It was such a boost to my self-esteem and made me feel that there were practical steps to moving forward that didn’t involve berating myself for not having achieved them yet.”

“I found the ‘five second rule’ very practical- I could definitely recognise that in myself and the way my brain talks me out of doing things I am worried about. I also found the discussions around confrontation and interpersonal workplace relationships (and outside) really helpful. Also the continual emphasis on maintaining good channels of communication is definitely something I am trying to keep permanently in mind until it becomes second nature.”

“Personal well-being and learning how to structure your work day to make sure your mood is optimal and you’re making the most of your day. If you take a proactive stance and not react to what life throws at you, you can be in control and change the quality of your day to day experiences.”

“Jane has been wonderful over the week. The way the programme was delivered over the week shows this is something Jane deeply cares about and enabling participants with the right information and boost of confidence/morale is just as important as securing a job. After facing unemployment you have to mentally prepare yourself before starting a job, you may feel out of the loop or in a low mood. By completing a holistic short course beforehand, it allows you to evaluate how you are doing on a scale and gives you insight to what to work on going forward.”

“The I-Act course is a great source to keep around and use as a reference, it provides a great summary of different types of mental health issues and illnesses. Once again, it is a tool you can use to see how you’re doing on scale and can be used to advocate for yourself and others. Courses such as this are needed to destigmatize the issue of mental health, a simple heartfelt conversation may change the trajectory of someone’s health and even their life.”

“I am very grateful and happy to be given this opportunity, it is a unique and lovely programme that would not be possible if curated by someone who didn’t understand how to genuinely help people (to help themselves!). It’s clear this is a labour of love and it really shows in the quality of the programme and the impact it has on me over just one week. Bravo, thank you!”

“Jane made us feel very comfortable and secure enough to share our personal stories as to what led us to Growing Talent.  I also enjoyed the company of the other people on the journey with me. There was nothing that I didn’t enjoy.  I looked forward to each day!”

“The whole concept of having a “Holistic Employment Programme” is such a great idea and perfect in my situation.  It provides a level playing field for everyone.  Thank you!”

If you are unemployed, live in London and interested in a different route to employment – check us out and or speak with your work coach at JobCentre Plus.

If you are an employer with permanent jobs in London which you are willing to train in, why not consider Growing Talent? Like Ella, Florence and Suaad you will have empowered, resilient, enthused, empathetic new talent before you formerly hire them with qualities you wouldn’t usually see in traditional recruitment – and it’s free. Get in touch to discuss.

Workplace in a post pandemic era – scary?

Its essential employers do everything possible to ensure their workplaces – physical and virtual – are operating at peak wellness and wellbeing especially with the nearing post covid era we are entering – emotions can be in turmoil.

Delivering training on how our behaviours impact those around us (Emotional Intelligence), how to communicate and collaborate effectively, how to build a resilient, productive environment where individuals at all levels learn skills and tools to look after themselves – and those around them – is critical in these constantly changing and uncertain times.

Where to start? We can overthink and procrastinate for ever trying to identify the ‘perfect’ solution but end up not actually doing anything.

Working during Covid has been a unique experience for everyone depending on their own particular situation. Not everyone has worked from a safe home with its own garden, financially secure with a solid network of support.

Coupled with this is everyone’s unique level of resilience. This is a key area for employers to look at as it directly impacts their business, brand reputation and bottom line. How to give some tools to ensure their people know their level of resilience, how to increase it and thereby be more able to deal with the curve balls life throws.

Having delivered many accredited courses and my own bespoke workshops in this critical area over many years, i-act is the most effective, robust commercial product for staff and their businesses on the market in my view. Why?

  • Quick deliver – 4 hours – delivered virtually making it accessible for hybrid workers across the globe
  • Robust, easy to access 168 colour co-ordinated manual, containing over 50 tools for self-care and 95 referral organisations. Digital version also available.
  • Accredited by the Royal College of Psychiatrists and carries 3 CPD points -for delegates
  • Accreditation lasts three years with access to I-act’s website for news, updates and downloads
  • Designed specifically for the workplace
  • Proactive – not reactive. Focus is on early intervention, building resilience
  • How to set and maintain personal protective barriers
  • So much more!

Collaboration and learning together is the best way to grow. Some of the key findings delegates shared on recent courses from diverse industries and levels of seniority include:

“A complex topic nicely categorised by the book and the ‘I-acted’ approach – so ordered, accessible and useable”.

” The self-care and wellbeing advice and activities was a key takeaway for me. It has given me more concrete ideas of where I can improve, particularly as someone who has a diagnosed mental illness.”

“Learning the simple scale tool to start a conversation was my standout. I will definitely use this going forward.”

“From some of the past support I’ve given my team, having the opportunity to understand more about some of the classifications of mental ill health was really helpful.”

“Learning how to ask the suicide question really helped me, It’s a difficult subject”

It seems to me the title ‘First Aider’ gives the impression delegates are ‘qualified’ to deliver first line intervention. This isn’t always the case. The emotional intelligence to speak to others at the time of emotional vulnerability whilst looking after yourself is critical and not something everyone can do naturally.

Yet, many employers don’t assess their employees before putting them on these kind of courses. Are they in the right headspace to do this kind of course? Do they have the communication skills to support someone else? Do they have the insight to know when to get involved and when they need to pass it on to protect themselves? Do they make their self-care a priority? It seems to be more a ‘tick in the box’ exercise. How much damage could that potentially do to both parties – not to mention brand reputation of the business?

I’m often asked what I would do if I wanted to make sure my staff and workplace thrived – not just survived. I would use a journey of steps – ensuring collaboration with staff at every step:

Step one – discover what the emotional temperature of my workplace and people is? To know and not just assume where the pressure points are I would run an Emotional Culture Survey. A quick survey which takes just a few minutes to complete online and examines 10 key areas of pressures across all departments and levels of staff giving results in minutes.

Step two – workshop to understand the impact our behaviours have on those around us which we may be completely unaware of but this impact can last years. Not an issue if that impact is positive – but what if it isn’t?

Step three – run the developmental, global Genos Emotional Intelligence assessments across all levels of staff for them to see any gaps between the level of importance of six core competencies and the level of demonstration raters see followed by coaching sessions to enable them to see insights, actions and benefits leading to stronger 360 connections and increased personal development.

A global programme delivering specialist workplace and leadership critical tools.

Step four – deliver I-act – Managing and Promoting Positive Mental Health and Wellbeing – for line managers and Understanding and Promoting Positive Mental Health and Wellbeing for non-managers. Both deliver the key tools noted above.

Step five – run continuous workshops, discussions, fun events during which work is not discussed. Instead focussing on empowering staff to break the stigma and fear our emotions can have by talking without fear about emotions. In addition have fun getting to know each other as humans working together who have lives outside of work not just colleagues doing a job.

Now, we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. The Government has announced the end of restrictions in England next week.

Is now the time to start preparing your teams and workplace to thrive?

Control what you can – ignore what you can’t!

What a roller coaster the past couple of years have been.

It seemed we’d turned a corner with the Government lifting restrictions, more and more people leaving their hybrid workplace and returning to their offices – even booking holidays, events and Christmas family gatherings! Life getting ‘back to normal’?

Then, earlier this week came the news of yet another variant. Omnicron had arrived!  A vortex of fear, dread, overthinking fell on some intensified by the re-introduction of some restrictions by the UK Government.

Scientists in South Africa alerted the world to this new variant. We know by the time a new variant has been announced, it’s already out there in the world’s population. They couldn’t control the reaction of countries closing their borders. Had they known, would they have shared their discovery?

Borders are starting to close.  Restrictions are being re-introduced.  It can feel like news channels are on repeat cycles of doom without any context or balance.  There is no evidence of which way this new variant will go. The UK Government’s consistent guidance of ‘we have to live with this’, seems to have now been reversed.

It’s no wonder anxiety, fear and overthinking is rising in many of us.  So, what can we do? 

Control what we can – ignore what we can’t.

Accept some things we cannot control.  Governments and scientists will make their decisions. But, here’s the thing.  When we accept these things are out of our control, we can stop focussing on them and look at what we can control.  The fear, anxiety and negative thinking starts to dissipate.  We start to grow stronger and move forward.

Change your thoughts – start by questioning them.  What evidence do you have to think that way? Often, we think negatively because our minds are designed to keep us safe and so they over amplify negative thoughts. Merely by questioning our negative thoughts, their power starts to dwindle.

Control – what areas of your life can you focus on, control and inject positivity into? Building in some self-care windows to everyday routines, learning new skills these are some of the building blocks to growing self-esteem, empowerment and resilience. Doing something for somewhere else makes us feel better and them. Start with a simple smile. Watch – it’s infectious!

For employers, what additional things can be considered? 

Emotional Intelligence behavioural assessments – our emotions impact our thoughts.  Our thoughts impact our behaviours.  Our behaviours impact our actions which impact everything and everyone around us.  Thing is how we see our behaviours can be very different to how those around us experience them.

i-act’s Managing and Promoting Positive Mental Health and Wellbeing delivers all the tools to proactively build a resilient workplace. The 50+ tools taught in i-act are life-long skills that enable us to deal with all life events. Accredited by the Royal College of Psychiatrists, designed specifically for the workplace and global.

Therefore, I’m going to control what I can and ignore what I can’t – how about you?

Roller Coasters come in all shapes….

19 July saw the start of the first Growing Talent hybrid for ten fantastically talented, currently unemployed people keen to work.

Selected by one of the ‘Big 4’ organisations for permanent roles in their growing virtual business support teams, they commenced step one – the orientation and holistic week – virtual of course!

So what did we cover over this week?

Mondaycommunication – a vital area to get right in all areas of our lives – no matter what our social status is nor our seniority in the workplace. But how much time do we put into making sure we get this right? Have you considered the following?

  • Speaking – what is the aim of the conversation? what content will you cover? where and how are you going to hold this conversation? what are the possible outcomes of this conversation? have you considered your tone, clarity, volume and pace?
  • Listening – do you automatically listen without judgement? do you ensure there will be no interruptions nor distractions? Do you listen with empathy or sympathy – do you know the difference?
  • Reflect back – paraphrasing is essential to ensure you have understood what you have heard – get the evidence, don’t just assume.
  • Body Language – did you know non verbal cues make up the biggest part of communication?
  • What method is appropriate for the conversation you are going to have?
  • What types of conflict might you encounter?
  • What’s your conflict style? accommodating, avoidance, collaboration, competitive, compromise
  • You statements – also known as the communication destroyer. Do you know why?

There is more to communication than most think!

Tuesday – invest in yourself. Critical – not selfish. Airline safety talks ‘state put the oxygen mask on you BEFORE helping others’ That makes sense, so why not scheduling in some self care windows throughout the day? This section covered:

  • Stop avoiding fear
  • Mantra and personal values
  • Overcoming negative thoughts
  • Control your brain – stop letting it control you
  • Self care toolkit
  • Dealing with imposter syndrome
  • Nurture your soul

Wednesday – nurturing your body – a car only runs on the right fuel. So does your body. Fuel it mindfully!

  • Food fads – the power of marketing vs facts
  • Superfoods – really
  • Understanding sugar – in all it’s forms
  • Exercise
  • Social media – good, bad and ugly

ThursdayMoney talks! Sharing basic financial tips together. 3 little bottles – waste and recycling, why is it so important. Moving on. Encompassing…..

  • Managing debt
  • How to increase savings
  • Ways to increase income
  • Considering credit cards, debit cards and cash
  • Money mantras
  • How to apply for new roles uniquely

Friday – I-act – Managing and Promoting Positive Mental Health and Wellbeing

How to look after yourself and those around you. This accredited course delivers a solid understanding of what mental health and wellbeing is, over 50 tools for self care and evaluation, robust evidence reporting – amongst a whole lot more.

So what did the fabulous 10 participants feel about the week? Below are some of the feedback – anonymous in line with GDPR:

“The content was exciting and engaging – which surprised me. I was expecting it to be a bit boring because it’s delivered by Zoom”

“The journey book which accompanied the week was clear and helped me understand the course. I can refer to it ongoing.”

“This week was so worthwhile – it’s taught me how to be more professional”

“I’ve been implementing things I learned in my personal life such as delaying my response in conversations until I understand what’s been said. It’s easy to misunderstand people if you jump in too soon.”

“The contents of the week were fantastic, very informative and engaging with loads of tools to assist me going forward”

The accompanying book was significantly relevant”

“I found everything insightful and enlightening. There were a lot of topics. I especially liked mental health and how to engage with someone who might be struggling. I feel I can now demonstrate a lot more empathy. I also really enjoyed finance considering how much I wasn’t taught much about the topic at school.”

“I’m glad to have the accompanying book as I can go back and refresh my knowledge anytime.

“This is probably the best training course I have every attended. T/he contents cover life inside and outside work”

“The book will be extremely useful going forward. On the course it enabled everyone to read at their own pace.”

What were the thoughts on the trainer?

“I loved how Jane had everyone engaged and included in all of the topic areas. She allowed us to digress within reason, which helped explore the topic further but she was also able to control anything that was not relevant to our learning.”

“Jane’s style was inclusive, warm and welcoming. Everything was clear.”

“Jane is very interactive and gives off a very positive vibe. I really felt like my opinion was relevant when she asked questions and she’s always very impartial so we didn’t feel like we were being judged. It was a pleasure doing my training with her”

“Jane’s compassionate and a very good listener”

“”Jane’s style was nice and precise, she knows what she is talking about and is a confident lady who taught us in a respectful professional manner.”

For me, the week was a mutually positive experienced. When we see each other as humans, we can learn so much together. Essential for work and life – don’t you agree?

Business – time to disrupt mental health training for something new…..


“This course gives you the knowledge and courage to ask those difficult questions regarding your own and others mental health. Knowing what I know now, I am very comfortable to help not only myself but those around me”, Conor. 

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As businesses we know how important it is to have a healthy, inclusive workplace where staff can thrive. A business that makes positive mental health and wellbeing training part of their DNA will get commitment, higher productivity, increased brand reputation and increased bottom lines. But, it has to be the right training! Especially in the time of Coronavirus uncertainty.

Training costs money. It’s pointless running reactivate courses that don’t deliver the results required. Time to disrupt the norm……

I’ve worked in the Mental Health, Wellbeing and Inclusive Employment fields for many years. I still see a fear within businesses – large and small – to address positive mental health training for all staff.

Traditionally, non-accredited training – either a half day awareness level, one day champion level or two day ‘first aider’ course is selected by businesses without considering some key facts:

  1. These courses are reactive – useful only when a problem has arisen
  2. Being non-accredited by a regulatory body or a respected Institute – what real meaning do they have?
  3. One of the largest providers in this field only licences their instructors to deliver in their local area – not nationally nor internationally meaning there is no uniform of delivery for national/international businesses.

I’ve been hugely impressed by this innovative programme because of it’s standout features. Some of the key ones are:

  1. It has over 50 self care tools to ensure we look after ourselves and those around us
  2. Designed specifically for the workplace – not only is it proactive in promoting positive mental health and wellbeing, it debunks myths, gives countless tools and guidance to build a mentally healthy workplace tying in with Health and Safety Executive tools as well as legislation responsibilities – it gives real confidence to those undertaking the training to break down the wall of social and society stigma which directly impacts the workplace.
  3. Accredited by the Royal College of Psychiatrists gives it real meaning and substance.
  4. The same instructor can deliver nationally and internationally giving uniform training.

“Excellent course to do. A very relevant and important course to do in these times. The skills learnt on this course could help you to intervene and save someone’s life.” Robert

Interested in knowing more? Contact me.

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Workplace Managing Positive Mental Health & Wellbeing

Unfortunately, five planned delegates, couldn’t make the session, so we commenced with a bespoke, niche group of five managers from officers throughout the UK. It always amazes me how interactive and powerful delivering training virtually is. Experience and knowledge shared.

The course is packed with over 50 self-help tools which can be used to support others as well.

Facts, figures, signpost, tools – every possible area of wellness and resilience in the workplace is covered in this.

“I’ve learned so many tools I can use to help others”, shared Paul at the end of the session.

It’s empowering to me as an Instructor to see delegates so empowered with information, tools and confidence to use.

Does mental health, wellbeing and resilience training make a real difference to a business’s bottom line?

Absolutely.  This has been proven time and again in various research reports in delivering added value to bottom lines, brand reputations and staff retention. It’s more relevant and vital to business operations in the Coronavirus/Covid-19 era.

Of course, you have to ensure you implement the right training otherwise the impact made to your bottom line, brand reputation and staff retention could be negative!

I’ve been working in this field for over a decade now.  I’m often asked what course I would recommend.  See the table below for some key features of three training programmes I deliver.

Featurei-actFAA levels 1,2,3MHFA England
Proactive – designed to prevent mental ill healthYesNoNo
Specifically designed for the workplaceYesNoNo
Accredited course for delegatesYesYesNo
Over 50 tools for self- care/building resilienceYesNoNo
Signposting to professional helpYesYesYes
Delivered virtually or classroomYesYesYes
Instructors can deliver nationallyYesYesNo

I’ve been so impressed by i-act’s proactive standpoint of aiming to prevent mental ill health in the workplace, vast array of self-help tools as well as tools to evaluate and develop skills of those delivering first stage support, that after 12 years as a MHFA England Instructor, I will no longer be delivering their products.  

For employers who do like a formal, first aid approach to mental health, the FAA Levels 1, 2 and 3 deliver Ofqual regulated accreditation on the same three adult programmes MHFA England offers – half day awareness, one day champion and two-day first aider.

In this day and age, it’s more important than ever for employers to select the right product for their environment and team.  Having the choice between accredited/non accredited and proactive/reactive training enables them to make this choice confidently and cost effectively.