Mindful-based interventions and mental health awareness training are important offerings to integrate into organisational wellbeing strategies to help mitigate against the 'always on' culture of now. It was reported recently by the Office of National Statistics that Depression has doubled during lockdown and the risk of burn out is real for many individuals, inevitably impacting performance. Having a culture at work where interventions such as mindfulness and mental health first aiders are part of a wider wellbeing strategy, where employees feel supported and empowered in a space to thrive not just survive will see much happier and healthier teams achieve their peak performance at work. With mental health costing businesses around £45bn every year, maybe it is time for mental health and wellbeing to become a measurable KPI and a Boardroom issue? The good news is Deloitte report well thought out wellbeing strategies that include things such as mental health first aiders and mindful-based interventions could see a return of £5 for every £1 spent. (Deloitte)
Mindfulness in the workplace
“I believe productivity is a result of focus, and the ability to recover focus from distractions – whether while working on a task or in an important discussion. A regular meditation practice of any form, helps train the brain to maintain and recover focus better.” Author of The Business Casual Yogi, Vish Chatterji
Even though mindfulness is generally considered a good thing to do, it is still shackled by the 'touchy feely hippy dippy' mis-conception. Perceptions about meditation and lack of awareness of the scientific evidence of its benefits can lead to mindfulness being quickly dismissed and a missed opportunity for growth. My approach to delivering mindfulness-based coaching is very much steeped in the empirical evidence that practising mindfulness can bring about changes in the brain leading to greater awareness of self, higher emotional intelligence, meta-cognition and resilience. Mindfulness is very much about being switched on in the present moment but in a calm and focussed, not frantic and discombobulated way. It is a very simple, accessible yet powerful tool that everyone could benefit from having in their wellbeing toolkit to boost daily productivity and overall performance at work and home.
Try this short F.O.F.B.O.C mindfulness practice that simply stands for Feet on Floor Body on Chair to help you find calm and refocus the mind throughout the day.
Findings of Hülsheger et al’s (2013) research suggests that mindfulness promotes job satisfaction in emotionally draining work roles and that it can also help to prevent burnout caused by emotional exhaustion.
Mental Health Awareness in the Workplace
It is completely acceptable that a physical illness or ailment might impair performance at work. By contrast, mental health is unseen, the lack of awareness of it and stigma attached to it, there is a huge disparity in the way poor mental health and poor physical health is viewed. However, when you consider the facts:
1 in 6 working-age adults have a diagnosable mental health condition
95% of people calling in sick with stress give a different reason
You are more likely to meet someone having suicidal thoughts rather than someone having a heart attack (MHFAEngland.org)
The prevalence of poor mental health in the workplace is significant and urgently needs to be addressed.
The W.H.O (World Health Organisation) define mental health as:
"Mental health is a state of well-being in which an individual realises his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and is able to make a contribution to his or her community." (W.H.O World Health Organisation)
When the brain is stressed, creativity and the ability to think in an agile way is impaired. The person will become less resilient to adversity and the risk of poor mental health will rise. Motivation and performance at work will go down and absenteesim will rise. Mental health training can help mitigate some of those risks by:
Raising awareness of mental health and empowering individuals to understand and be pro-active about their own mental health.
Recognising the signs that someone else might be experiencing poor mental health and giving them the confidence to have a conversation about it.
Just like a physical first aider, mental health first aiders provide frontline support until professional help is sought. Early intervention is crucial to prevent the condition from worsening and can even save a life.
De-stigmatising and reducing discrimination in the workplace so that people feel able to speak up and seek the help they need leading to less absenteeism and presenteeism.
Although MHFA training or mindfulness isn't a panacea to all problems I regularly hear feedback from many people within organisations I support, about how they have been able to take a different perspective about things, how they have used simple breathing techniques to ride through stress, or have finally addressed their mental health and have been able to support their colleagues, friends and loved ones too. It's that feedback that keeps me going, that keeps reminding me why I use the tools I teach and why I do the work that I do.
At The Mind Hub, we deliver a range of evidence-based mental health training to suit all levels from the top down. You can read about them in more detail here.
"Mental health training is vital for creativity and innovation. It helps people thrive and be the best they can be.” Ed Smyth, Learning and Talent Manager at Channel 4
Happier, healthier and thriving environments in which people feel supported and able to bring their whole selves to work, are great foundations for thriving productivity too. Does this sound like your organisation?