Mental Health is often overlooked, not discussed openly or handled in helpful and supportive ways in many places of work and although often well intentioned, companies are not well equipped with the experience on how to provide the best support for those that need it.
On Tuesday we hosted our first MobFit panel discussion for Mental Health Awareness Week with Jo Hooper, founder of Mad and Sad Club and Jonny Say, founder of The Mindfulness Circle to discuss how a human approach to mental health in the workplace can provide the best foundation to supporting those suffering. Whether looking at this from a company perspective, an HR team, a manager, or you personally as a work pal, we wanted to have a conversation to discuss and provide tangible and actionable steps that can be taken to improve how mental health is dealt with in the workplace.
Firstly, Jo Hooper Founder of Mad and Sad Club who built her company, born out of lived experience, to help organisations to understand, talk about and take action on mental health in the workplace, shared her own story of anxiety and breakdown related to work. She discussed how this manifested itself with physical symptoms too, these are widely unknown and are signs that people suffering may not initially connect to their mental health. We have listed some of the common symptoms below:
Moving on to tools and techniques that can be implemented in the workplace Jo advised to “use established channels you currently have in place, such as intranets or newsletters to talk about mental health, this can begin to support a change in attitudes and work culture. A way to really have an impact is to feature human stories on these channels and encourage people to talk about their own experience - I did that in my last workplace and it opened the floodgates, in a good way, to people opening up about their experiences”.
By using these channels to speak openly, Jo was able to de-stigmatise mental health in her workplace, members of staff, in particular her direct team spoke regularly and openly about how they were feeling which directly and positively impacted morale and company culture.
Jonny, Founder of The Mindfulness Circle, has been practicing Mindfulness and meditation for over 20 years, started using the practice as a tool following stressful and difficult periods at work. Jonny discussed how mindfulness, although not a panacea and cure of everything, can be a very useful tool if those initial signs of suffering begin to creep in - “I’ve worked with people that were on the edge of a breakdown and burnout, but through changing work practice, becoming more self compassionate and balancing out their stress response they were able to avoid and stave more serious things off.”
The evening concluded with Jonny guiding us all through a mindfulness practice, as this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week focuses on body image, Jonny chose self compassion as the focus. If you’re interested in trying this out for yourself, a guided practice is available on Dr Kristin Neff’s website.
A huge thank you to all that supported the event and joined in the conversation, either in person or through submitting questions via LinkedIn, all in aid of the amazing charity, Mind.