Guest blog by Andrew Tamplin, Canna Consulting
“I’m having a meltdown” – when it’s more than a metaphor
Those of us who’ve worked in the corporate world are used to hearing terms related to mental health being thrown around – usually to describe nothing more than a bad day at the office.
How many of us have used terms like … “I’m having a meltdown”, “I’m going nuts here”, “My head is going to burst”, “It’s mentally draining”? There are many more, I know – because I used them once. I lived in the corporate world of believed stress, of perceived ‘breakdowns’ and ‘meltdowns’ and terminology that the world as it stands today is coming to an end.
The trouble is … for some, the world as they know it DOES come to an end.
For some of your colleagues today in the workplace that ‘meltdown’ will happen for real. For them it won’t be a throw-away phrase used to mean a bad day. Their mental illness will change their lives, and those around them for a very long time, if not forever. The question is how will your company deal with it?
Let’s look at some stats:
- 98% of people suffering depression are too scared to discuss it in work in case it impacts on their job
- 3/4 of us will suffer some kind of mental illness and most likely it will be during our working lives.
- Less than 50% of employees believe that their employer provides adequate support for their mental health.
- Almost a third say that they do not know how well their employer supports them, indicating that if there is any help to be had, they are not being made aware of how to seek it. (CIPD)
Corporate stigma about Mental Health issues is very real. There is a critical misunderstanding of mental wellbeing in the workplace and a deep nervousness, worry, and ignorance of how to deal with it. This must change quickly. As the world around us develops the knowledge of our leaders must develop quickly to deal with it.
What happens when an organisation gets ‘sick’?
I look back with horror and a little humor at some of the comments, ideas, words and phrases used to try and help me cope during my mental breakdown in my corporate bubble … stigma absolutely! I know, I’ve been there I’ve bought the t-shirt. Thankfully, my breakdown was a new beginning and I now make my living helping employers get healthy – and no, I don’t mean ’employees’. In my opinion, when an organisation doesn’t support their teams, leaders, managers, and people on mental wellbeing – it’s the organisation that needs help – and fast.
There is of course a need for individuals to get support in the workplace if they are suffering from a mental illness – but the focus then is on helping the employee after they ‘become sick’. By becoming a wellbeing-focused employer instead, situations don’t escalate, staff are supported and the company regains control. Organisations see multiple benefits … in terms of people, performance, and profits.
The strategies that work
So how do sick employers get better? Here’s just some of the strategies I’ve seen work in practice:
- Investing in line manager training for mental health and wellbeing. This helps employees to have confidence that their manager understands and can empathise with their situation, making them more likely to open up about mental illness at work, and admit when they really need help.
- Prevention is better than cure, providing resilience training and coaching for your senior leaders, managers and teams will not only give them better coping skills, but will also give them confidence to speak up when they have a problem.
- Taking time to review your HR policies, making sure they are wellbeing friendly, means getting them tested and audited.
- Most importantly, encourage wellbeing and mental health to be a topic for discussion at meetings, forums.
An external professional who specialises in this area will be able to offer help with all of the above.
Investing ahead of a critical event like the one I experienced will save employers time, performance and cost later. More importantly, it shows you are a responsible, caring employer, who understands the link between mental wellbeing, responsible employment and the bottom line.
For further information on how Canna Consulting can support you, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow us on twitter @andrewcanna or visit our website www.cannaconsultingcardiff.co.uk