It’s amazing to think it was 21 years ago the Mental Health Foundation introduced the idea of an annual week putting the spotlight on raising awareness of mental health.
Here we are 21 years later with many people still:
living in silence
hesitating to start a conversation when they’ve spotted a change in someone
not practising non-negotiable, regular windows of wellbeing everyday
learning proactive tools to maintain their wellbeing and increase their resilience
not seeing how critical self-care is not only in preventing mind ill health and also in recovery plans
In recognition of Day One of this important week, I share one of my favourite wellbeing windows for self-care that I teach.
When brushing your teeth, set the timer on your mobile to 2 minutes, play your favourite dance tune and cut some moves in the privacy of your bathroom. It gets your blood pumping, clears your mind AND IT’S FUN!
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.
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?
Yesterday saw the final delivery of @I-act Managing and Promoting Positive Mental Health & Wellbeing of the year!
Now the team of managers have tools and knowledge to enable them to increase their own self-care and those around them in the workplace – ‘I can and I will’ is the new mantra!
Designed specifically for the workplace, I-act Managing & Promoting Positive Mental Health and Wellbeing is proactive and accredited by the Royal College of Psychiatrists. It teaches over 50 tools for self-care that can be used in supporting those around them as well. Proactive – early intervention leads to a quicker recovering. Learning when to start a conversation, how to prepare for it, techniques to ensure the individual feels validated and supported to identify their own solution, setting personal boundaries, assessing levels of interventions including suicide builds confidence in the workplace leading to a much more positive workplace.
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?
In the UK we are experiencing a lot of news traffic about the lack of HGV drivers and the knock on impact of petrol shortages, Christmas goods not making the shelves etc. We can look at the blame game or we can focus on what we can learn to do differently to really move forward.
For so long there has been adulation for ‘celebrity’. With the growth of social media, there has been a new career title ‘influencer’.
The global pandemic has shone the spotlight on the careers we really need, should value and respect all of the time, yet many don’t – HGV drivers, social care workers, delivery drivers, auxiliary specialists in NHS – the list goes on.
There is an old saying which seems apt here “keep doing what you’ve been doing, keep getting the same results”.
I just wonder if now is the time to do things differently. Instead of trapping people in the hamster wheel of benefits and state support, why not invest in specific training to give unemployed people real skills to move into careers where they can support themselves, their families and pay taxes to support those vulnerable people coming after them?
If we take HGV training. It costs over £4K to train as a Heavy Good Vehicle driver – and rightly so. HGVs are weapons of mass destruction in the wrong circumstances so drivers must be robustly trained. This initial cost will be repaid several times other by each individual leaving benefits for good – not to mention their mind health will increase.
Of course, training is one part of the issue. Wages need to reflect the responsibility essential services like this carry which means either lower profits for shareholders or higher costs for consumers.
The same applies to social care. One thing seems to be forgotten in the talk about pay and conditions in this highly under rated sector. That is despite the growth of AI in many sectors, it won’t replace the need for humans to be trained well and WANT to work in social care looking after the most vulnerable of our society. Many seem to forget those of us luckily enough to have a healthy adulthood will likely need social care of some sort in our twilight years.
What kind of care would you want? Someone exhausted holding down multiple jobs to make ends meet or someone who has a passion to work in social care? If it’s the latter, don’t they deserve a wage commensurate with the nurture they give?
There seems to be a shadow over humanity at the moment where the wrong ‘careers’ are feted and respected. Is now the time to look at our priorities?
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?
Monday – communication – 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
Social media – good, bad and ugly
Thursday – Money talks! Sharing basic financial tips together. 3 little bottles – waste and recycling, why is it so important. Moving on. Encompassing…..
How to increase savings
Ways to increase income
Considering credit cards, debit cards and cash
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?
Of course ‘Mental Health’ isn’t such the taboo subject it was but there is still a huge social and self stigma fog to break down.
Back in 2017, the then Prime Minister, Theresa May, commissioned Lord Stevenson and Paul Farmer (CEO of Mind) to investigate and report on mental health at work. This resulted in “Thriving at Work” published in October 2017.
Some of the key findings of this report were disturbing:
300,000 lose their jobs each year due to mental ill health – far higher than the incidence of physical health
Around 15% of people at work have symptoms
Key recommendations from this report:
Produce, implement and communicate positive mental health in the workplace
Develop mental health awareness among staff
Encourage open conversations about mental health
Provide employees with work/life balance options
Routinely monitor employee wellbeing
More ambitious ‘enhanced’ standards from this report include:
Increase transparency and accountability through internal and external reporting
Improve the disclosure process
Ensure provision of tailored inhouse mental health support and signposting to clinical help
At the time of this report only 11% of employees discussed a recent mental health problem with their line manager – meaning 89% did not feel able to disclose. In addition at the time of this report in 2017 only 11% of the Top 100 companies disclose their initiatives in their annual reports.
Only 24% of managers in 2017 received some form of training in mental health at work.
4 years later – has anything changed?
That’s what I keep asking myself. On the surface, businesses seem to feel they’ve done all that they can. They’ve usually rolled out MHFA training, assigned some people who’ve done MHFA training as ‘First Aiders’ to their peers who might be struggling. Is that effective? Is it enough?
I don’t think so. Businesses need to think about what their business and staff need to really thrive not just do a tick in the box training exercise with a proven reactive programme like MHFA just because it’s the most well known.
MHFA is an excellent programme for those interested in the subject area. It teaches in-depth information on mental health conditions, legislation and how to support, listen and signpost someone once they have experienced an issue. Devised by Betty Kitchener, a mental health nurse in Australia, and her partner Professor Anthony Jorm. With a global reach, it has become the go to product for businesses to deliver mental health training – but it was not designed for the workplace!
Selecting a unique, accredited programme like I-act, specifically written for the workplace and accredited by the Royal College of Psychiatrists with over 50 self care tools, guidance on how to build a mentally positive and healthy workplace as well as evaluation and development tools for those doing the training to support others – makes more sense. Cost effective and efficient.
Maybe if more employers choose to build a select menu of options for resilience, wellbeing, and positive mental health for their business and staff – the stats will be much better in another four years.
Or will we continue to kick the can down the road? Businesses are not the same. Why select the same training as your competitors when your business is different? Isn’t it better to lead than follow?
At Jane James’s Consultancy Ltd, we deliver the I-act training for managers and non-managers along with devising bespoke bolt ons to meet staff and business needs. Financial awareness, self-employment, team empowerment, financial awareness, know your purpose, what’s your journey – and many more. Financial awareness for staff is a key point in the new international guidelines ISO45003.
If you want to ensure your business and staff are thriving, why not get in touch to discuss options?