Being mindful of mental health by Daniel Arda
Now you may be wondering why there’s a photo of two chaps holding books.
The stylish gent to my right is Dr Martyn Newman, PhD, a clinical psychologist who taught mindfulness to the likes of Sky, Boeing and ExxonMobil. My colleague Kathy introduced me to Dr Newman while we attended his recent book launch for The Mindfulness Book. With his tongue firmly placed in cheek, the author quipped that ‘Mindfulness while blow-drying your hair’ was another title under consideration, but didn’t make the final cut.
Though Sigmund Freud is more well known, Dr Newman cites William James as his favourite psychologist. He shared an anecdote about how James ‘noticed that the ability to focus our minds by bringing our attention back into the present moment was the indispensable skill that enabled people to take control of their lives and achieve their potential.’ Insightful!
Indeed, Newman went on to regale us with more tales of teaching mindfulness and when you heard this learned man effortlessly weave verbatim quotations from literary powerhouses like Dostoyevsky, it was hard not to feel in awe of his extensive knowledge. In spite of being the star attraction, he was very attentive and humble in the way he catered to his guests’ autograph requests or when answering questions. Noticing and giving others attention is perhaps a quality we can all strive to learn from others such as Dr Newman.
Dr Newman’s work resonated with me because I organised an event at work to promote World Mental Health Day. For me, there is a sobering truth which can no longer be ignored. In the UK today, thousands of people with poor mental health are suffering in silence, unable to share their condition or illness with colleagues or managers at work. When nearly 20,000 people currently employed in the UK responded to a study carried out by Business in the Community, research revealed that 77% of employees have experienced symptoms of poor mental health at some point in their lives. And 29% of employees have been diagnosed with a mental health condition.
I’m fortunate in that it is easier to speak openly about mental health at my workplace. Yet there are things you can do to signpost people if you notice someone (it may even be you) who is struggling at work and are not quite sure what to do next! Equally, prevention is better than the cure, so these are still some useful resources to help you and others stay in tip-top form.
Please be aware that I’m not a mental health expert and am simply signposting to relevant suggestions. If the condition runs deeper then the person affected should seek support from a trained professional!
Speak to your people manager or specialist HR advisor
This will differ from company to company, yet depending on how comfortable you feel, you may wish to speak with your manager or a trained HR Advisor about your experiences.
Speak to the Mind Infoline or The Samaritans
People can benefit from speaking to someone outside of work. So, you can call the Mind Infoline on 0300 123 3393 or email them firstname.lastname@example.org. Lines are open 9am to 6pm, Monday to Friday (except for bank holidays).
Alternatively, there’s the Samaritans line on 116 123 which is open 24/7.
Elefriends online support
There are also online resources, where people facing mental health challenges can openly share their challenges anonymously and in confidence. Mind’s Elefriends group offers useful tips, resources and a supportive online community.
Daniel Arda is a Sustainability Executive at Grant Thornton; managing community and environmental projects to bring the firm’s purpose to life through great partnerships and great people. He supports the work of Mind and Urban Partners. https://www.linkedin.com/in/danielarda