May was mental heath awareness month and I attended an excellent webinar hosted by the equally excellent Alice Lyons from Dark Coffee. https://www.linkedin.com/in/alicelyons/
The topic of discussion was around how do we move from awareness to action around mental health challenges. In a breakout room I mentioned a couple of things that were well received so I thought I’d share them here.
Thank you to https://www.linkedin.com/in/brionygunson/ for you observations too.
Although this forum was based around mental health in a general capacity, I’m sharing these thoughts in a business leadership capacity. Too many business leaders fail to realise when they’re experiencing mental health challenges and put it down as just something that goes with running a business.
My first observation was that we were an “A” light in the process from awareness to action. I felt no meaningful action can take place without an “acceptance” step between awareness and action.
Once we become aware of a mental health challenge whether personally or within our organisation, we need to accept it’s real before we can move into any appropriate action. This acceptance step is vital as there are a couple of challenges that arise when talking about acceptance.
Firstly, if we’re talking about ourselves then it’s important we are honest about how we are dealing with the current challenges we have. Checking in on how we are feeling and the results we are delivering currently compared to our usual level is a great way to look at our performance. Checking in with our colleagues, friends and family also helps us be in tune with what is going on in our World. Then by listening to ourselves and our self-talk along with the thoughts of our close circle can help us accept if we have challenges around our current state of mental health.
If we feel we recognise a change in a colleague, then acceptance is so importance here too. It’s vital we handle any concerns appropriately and professionally. The first step is usually to ask how someone is with a simple “how are you doing” type start to a conversation. If you get a standard “I’m fine” reply, then don’t be afraid to ask the question a second time. This is obviously only appropriate depending on the level of relationship you have with the person. That second question would be something like “Can I just check, is that how you’re really feeling?
This question can often lead to a more truthful and honest answer and lead to a level of acceptance that some support is needed. Only when we accept our own current state of mental health or that of our colleagues can we move to appropriate action.
This acceptance is vital as we as a society move forward to a better understanding of mental health challenges and how we can create a healthier relationship with ourselves as an individual and then in turn as a collective.