Let’s all be Wally’s!

wally

As you can imagine I have had countless meetings and discussions with people about mental health challenges in the workplace since ‘opening up’, and I always end up quoting something from the first Crocodile Dundee movie. I must add it always gets a laugh then an instant ‘penny drop’ realisation moment!

It’s obvious now why this quote resonated and has stuck with me but it carries with it some tremendous learning. Stay with me people I am being serious!!!

Here is the transcript from the movie after the subject of Shrinks came up at a party Sue and Mick were at:

Sue Charlton: People go to a psychiatrist to talk about their problems. She just needed to unload them. You know, bring them out in the open.

Michael J. “Crocodile” Dundee: Hasn’t she got any mates?

Sue Charlton: You’re right. I guess we could all use more mates. I suppose you don’t have any shrinks at Walkabout Creek.

Michael J. “Crocodile” Dundee: No back there if you got a problem you tell Wally. And he tells everyone in town, brings it out in the open, no more problem.

The penny drops as soon as I finish the last line.  “Yes”, people say and naturally realise that if more people talk ‘openly’ about mental health, it will become less of an issue to talk about mental health. Simple but effective.

It’s so obvious but you can understand why it’s harder to ‘open up’.

Firstly, it’s still a big taboo subject and many people that have experienced, or are currently experiencing, mental health challenges fear the potential recriminations of telling their story, or asking for support.

In addition, mental health challenges are classified as a hidden disability. Underline the word ‘hidden’. Many people keep their challenges hidden and they are not generally visible to the naked eye, unlike most other diversity areas, so the result is naturally a propensity to focus on the more overt subjects.

So let’s all be Wally’s. Let’s all start talking about mental health. I’m not suggesting everyone ‘opens up’, because it is a big decision to do so and not something that should be rushed into (believe me), although the more that do, the more visible the conversation will be!

So let’s talk about our knowledge of mental health, how our businesses embrace and harness difference, the positives that exists as a consequence of mental health illnesses, yes positives including; alternative ways of thinking, critical risk identification and advanced problem solving, and let’s just be more open about how we feel and how things that happen in daily life make us feel.

Let’s all be Wally’s and bring stuff out in the open and make them ‘no more problem’!

All the best.

Colin.

p.s. If you need a starting point, why not join the Mental Health in Business LinkedIn Networking Group!

p.p.s If you want to talk about performing a diagnostic on your business I’m on +44 (0)7887 480142 and colin.minto@bigideatalent.com

 

 

How Mental Health Ready Are You?

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Following on from my article ‘I Need a Hero‘, many people have contacted me to understand more about the four pillars; Homely, Enjoyable, Relaxed and Open.

So I have taken the opportunity to build the detail into a model (above), that you are more than welcome to use with creative license, to benchmark your organisation’s mental health readiness.

I would be delighted to share my knowledge, experience and interpretation of the pillars with you, and / or, perform the HERO mental health readiness diagnostic, an intensive five day investigative, benchmarking and evolutionary thinking programme.

Contact me on +44 (0)7887 480142, or at colin.minto@bigideatalent.com, if you would like to chat and establish if you are indeed a HERO!

Oh and don’t forget to join the Mental Health in Business LinkedIn Group to join the ongoing conversation.

All the best.

Colin.

“Nervous, proper nervous, stressed”!

school-classroom

I finished a run on Tuesday and watched the BBC news whilst eating breakfast. There was a report about the current Grammar School debate in the UK.

I was stunned with one of the comments from an 11 year old who’s parents had invested in a private tutor for him to give him the best chance of passing the entry exam to get into the local grammar school!

He said he felt “nervous, proper nervous, stressed”! What! An 11 year old being made to feel nervous and stressed at such a relatively young age! There were other comments in the report along the same lines, plus admissions from all parents featured that they didn’t agree with the grammar school initiative, but wanted the best start for their kids. They felt stressed too and were compelled to invest to secure a place for them.

As a parent of a ten and seven year old I get that parents want the best for their children. Of course we all do. But at what point do we need to temper that and consider the effect our aspirations for them may have on their mental well-being?

On Question Time last night, again on the BBC (other TV stations are available and equally valuable), the debate continued. A lady in the audience highlighted that kids were being tutored, in fact trained, to pass the entrance exam, then under-performing once in because they were geared up to pass a three hour test, not equipped for the next five years of advanced teaching and learning! Increasing stress all round in her, the panel’s and my opinion!

It got me thinking about other things that are semi related. My wife and I are actively managing what we call device time, which includes iPod’s, tablets, PC, TV and X-Box with our kids. Managing this against ensuring they both have outdoors time for their physical and mental well-being and enjoyment. But the draw, and sometimes pressure, on kids to be online is relentless, plus it appears our two much prefer device time until we get them out in the great outdoors then the momentum swings. Convenience maybe? Stressful for kids and parents? Maybe!

Loosely related was a discussion on Facebook yesterday with friends about schools not being able to apply bite cream, in this instance, to pupils because of the strict health and safety laws governing the use of medication in schools. I say loosely connected but the outcome was most definitely an element of stress on the parents, children, teachers and support staff!

So I’ll get to the point. Are we stressing our children and ourselves out unnecessarily these days due what many will describe as progress, ambition, competition, over zealous health and safety legislation or just life in general?

Are we exposing our children to stress much earlier in life and is this going to manifest itself in increased mental health challenges in schools, colleges and the workplace. I’ll actually stick my neck out on this one and say yes, because another report last night (South Today on the BBC, sorry at it again!!!!) showcased an app for sixth form students to monitor and manage their stress / mental health! Solutions are only created when a problem needs to be addressed!

So I’m not going to throw in loads of solutions because that’s not the point of this post. My point is to understand how well schools, the health profession/service and ultimately employers are prepared and geared up to manage this apparent increase and earlier stage onset of, and exposure to, stress? Are they keeping up with the knowledge, learning, support requirements and solutions required for the increase of those that will experience mental health challenges earlier or more intensely.

I think we all know the answer to this and it’s maybe why there is a considerable additional focus and profile on mental health in all walks of life and business at present. This will naturally drag us forward initially, then manifest itself in adequate and proactive approaches, initiatives and solutions to meet the recognised and expanding demand. I hope!

Until then however, and to all employers out there; in my personal experience stress related mental health challenges increase as you get older and life gets more stressful. Add to this the effect that earlier exposure to stress is having and you could argue that personal mental health challenges are more likely to present themselves or intensify on your watch!

So how equipped are you, your managers and your employees to deal with this? What does good look like and where do you go to understand best practice and tap into existing resources? I think the answer is that this is all very much work in progress as we all lift the lid on the final workplace taboo subject and speak more openly about it.

So feel free to share your views and knowledge of the strategies, resources and solutions available currently, or in the pipeline. From my perspective you are naturally all welcome to join the Mental Health in Business LinkedIn Group and get in touch with me personally to discuss the people, conferences, resources and initiatives I am getting involved with/in, and supporting, as I journey into an area I am deeply passionate about and hoping to make a difference in – colin.minto@bigideatalent.com

All the best.

Colin.