Mental Health at Work

As a member of the CIPD Northamptonshire Committee, I organised an event for our Branch on Mental Health at work and the role of Occupational health. Anna Harrington was our guest speaker, she has 24 years in occupational health. She is a Registered Public Health Nurse Specialist in occupational health and most interestingly for me has additional training in positive psychology, cognitive behavioural therapy, acceptance commitment therapy, mindfulness meditation, prosocial, and workplace mediation. 

For me as a business owner, without a team my takeaways may have been different from the majority but here is some of what I learnt.

Mental Health is a positive

When we describe mental health we often shoot straight to the mental health problems (the wonders of our negativity bias). But actually, Mental Health when strong is about helping individuals to thrive, to move beyond just OK. In work that’s about getting work satisfaction, really driving behaviour and enabling employees to drive that satisfaction. It made me reflect on when supporting and enabling Mental Health, employers are supporting their people and in addition, where their values and purpose are aligned to that of the organisation they are also driving their organisations forward, achieving their goals and those precious results and objectives.

All stress isn’t bad

Another point we touched on was stress, often perceived as negative but we discussed how short-term stress can be positive. Boosting brain power, increasing short-term immunity, making you more resilient and increasing motivation! Interesting to reflect on when we are stretching ourselves at work and feel some stress that will be helping us develop and grow.

Signs of mental ill health

Anna talked us through some signs that our team members may be experiencing mental ill health, some of which included self-doubt, being hesitant, and either being explosive or withdrawn. This led me to reflect on how important it is to know and understand our team members and what normal looks like for them, without that knowledge how will you see the change?

Looking after your Mental Health

Anna was asked how she looks after her Mental Health, she mentioned professionally it was about quarterly peer support and working on her own self-awareness (noticing her own triggers). Techniques she mentioned supporting her were breathing techniques and focusing on her physical fitness to support her Mental Health. Of course with the extra benefit of the social side that comes with her cycling and swimming.

It was really interesting to hear how the focus on Mental Health is growing for HR professionals and also leadership teams. Despite how it can feel for some operations teams great Occupational Health support like Anna’s that considers the Biopsychosocial approach and their complex interactions are there to support and aid line managers not hinder. For leaders, the number of hats and the areas needed for support are growing. Supporting them in supporting their teams has never been more crucial. 

If you’d like to find out more about how Personal Strengths Coaching can support your line managers, I’d love to talk – Get in Touch.

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