How many of you realised that Mental Health Awareness Week has just passed? How many leaders in our organisations think about their own mental health and, by extension, that of their teams?
There’s been a lot written in industry magazines and the press around this topic and I know we should all ‘do something’ - but do we?
When I talk to leaders and organisations there’s still incredible levels of stress around. People are exhausted and ‘burn out’ is a regular phrase used. Employees are leaving seeking jobs with less pressure or just becoming unemployed, not seeking work. How has it come to this?
Clearly there’s global issues that have affected all of us over the last couple of years. First Brexit (which continues still), Covid (which continues still), the war in Ukraine (which continues still), the rising cost of living (which continues still). Funny – there seems to be a pattern here.
We’re living in a high adrenaline state and have been for a long time so it’s not surprising that mental health issues are increasing. We’re in an ever decreasing circle of despondency and it takes very strong leadership to show the way out of this.
One of the first things we could do as leaders is to stop thinking about how we can reduce stress. That’s putting a negative state at the top of our to do list. How about instead, think about asking, “How do we create ease?”
Ease is one of the ten components of a Thinking Environment and one that I emphasis in the training that I run for Time to Think facilitators. I do that because I have found over the years as a practitioner that engaging with the Thinking Environment reduces stress levels and it does that because we are in an environment where we can be at ease.
Of course that’s enhanced by paying full attention to each other, to show that each person matters and by not interrupting them. By knowing you’re not going to be interrupted it reduces the adrenaline rush because you know you can take your thinking to where it needs to go. You know that your thoughts will be valued, along with everyone else’s thoughts. And because all thoughts are equal, there is no internal or external competition to see who’s got the best thought.
Let’s then deal with this from an Appreciative Enquiry approach. What happens within your organisation, your leadership, that creates ease? Is it down to an individual’s approach at one end of the spectrum, or the culture in your organisation at the other end of the spectrum. Is it something that’s generated spontaneously or planned? Does it occur sporadically or frequently and if so, what is it that sparks that ease?
Once we start thinking positively about what we can do to increase the ease within ourselves and our workforce, then we can build our resilience and strength to tackle the multitude of mental health issues that surround us.
Laura Murphy blogs about things that interest her. They might not interest you but read them anyway. It might even change your mind.