Today's blog in the #BeTheRippleBlogs series is a piece from Nahla Summers entitled 'How can you help mental health in the workplace?'.
Nahla is a Cultural Change Consultant, Author and speaker. She is also the Founder of two social enterprises.
You can find her on LinkedIn: Here and on Twitter: @NahlaSummers
Over to Nahla:
How Can You Help Mental Health in the Workplace?
When I was asked to speak at Disrupt HR Bristol event, I knew straight away what I wanted to discuss in my ‘6 minute, 20 slide’ presentation.
“We are wasting our time with Mental Health First aiders”. I know, controversial right? However that is the whole point of Disrupt HR, looking at the things a little uniquely and opening up a discussion. So, if you really want to know how to make a change in mental health in the workplace then please read on.
We keep talking about Mental Health First aiders and some organisations have started to use them as the answer to their responsibility around workplace stress and anxiety. Organisations are looking at well-being in the workplace and how we can de-stress but they want the quick answers not to look at the root cause. If we focus on simply putting in Mental health First aiders we don’t focus on the bigger issue which is the cause. It’s like spraying fertiliser a mile above a tree in which is actually diseased at it’s root. You have to dig deeper to find out what is killing it, and that can seem more challenging than a light spray, so we do the light spray and hope for the best rather than do the hard work to save the tree.
Our mental health at work is affected by a number of things; poor relationships and high workloads in the main part. However even high workloads can be combated by good relationships because you feel comfortable enough to say ‘no, I can’t do anymore’ for example. So what are the underlying causes for poor relationships? Among many reasons, it can be a lack of communication, a lack of listening, a lack of gratefulness that can all be considered factors. When we look at these factors we can understand that this in its very essence is ‘unkindness'.
This unkindness is built in to the very roots of an organisation, it feeds the tree and the soil around it and is not simply fixed with a spray of fertiliser. It takes work and time to save the tree, testing different things and ensuring that everyone understands there is no single action that will fix this. Kindness is key.
How can you help mental health in the workplace? It's simple. Adopt a culture of kindness throughout your workplaces, when we do that we deal with the underlying issues of mental health in the workplace rather than triage it with a teeny tiny plaster of training a person in the art of ‘mental health first aid’.
Thank you so much to Nahla for sharing this piece. I wholeheartedly agree that more needs to be done to ensure that individuals are safeguarded in the workplace and that's the whole reason that I created the #BeTheRipple movement. Putting kindness at the very core of what we do in organisations will ensure that individuals are able to bring their whole selves to work and flourish as a result - this has far reaching benefits for individuals, teams, the organisation and for all other stakeholders.
If you are not yet a member of the #BeTheRipple community, we would love you to join us. You can find us on Twitter: @BeTheRipple2020 and/or in our LinkedIn community: Here
Thank you once again to Nahla for sharing this piece.
If you would like to submit a blog for this series, please send your work via email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can find PDFs of all blog pieces: