11 May Mental Health Awareness Week, how employers can help …
As Mental Health Week draws to a close, I wanted to share with you some of the things I have learnt as a Volunteer with the Prince’s Trust.
As a recent addition to the ranks, I thought it would be interesting to attend the East of England Volunteer Conference, meet other Volunteers and gain some insight into what else is going on in the Prince’s Trust. What I came to realise very quickly is that I’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg in what the Prince’s Trust does, how it approaches fundraising and works with other organisations to facilitate both. From the “Get Into” programmes through to the “Million Makers” fundraising challenge.
However, what made this session even more inspiring was the talk given by Chris Harris, UK Mental Health Advisor for the Prince’s Trust. He highlighted the concerns of young people, that the stigma they feel exists around mental health issues could hold them back in life. That there is a crisis in confidence, not in themselves, but in those around them.
So we all have a duty to make good mental health our business, as parents, carers, employers and as members of society in general. We must make good mental health part of our culture by:
- Improving our ability to recognise mental health difficulties as well as knowing how to access mental health information;
- Knowing when specialist help is necessary and streamlining the referral to services;
- Adopting attitudes and behaviours that reduce stigma.
Chris highlighted that relationships are our primary survival mechanism – we are designed to work together and feeling valued is essential for survival. And that if someone is feeling stressed or sad, the most important thing is to acknowledge and accept those feelings.
However, our language is key: suggesting to someone that they have a problem or need help reduces the likelihood of seeking help. Why? Because this suggests a potential weakness or defect in the person which goes against our hard wiring. It can actually elicit feelings of worthlessness and shame.
So, we must change our language:
- FROM: You see a psychologist [therapist, counsellor] because you have a problem, or you need help. Connotation = there is something wrong with you!
- TO: You see a psychologist [therapist, counsellor] to develop and build on your strengths so you can be the person you want to be (at work, in your relationships, as a sister, as a person). Connotation = develop your strengths.
So when someone is walking the tightrope, we can all be part of the safety net: