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Do Organisations Really understand Mental Health Issues?


May 5, 2017

There is a momentum building within the business sector to address issues such as absenteeism and presenteesim (a new word for an old problem) that are due to stress, anxiety and depression.

Even as recently as 20 years ago, mental health issues were as feared and misunderstood as they were in Victorian times. Within the last few years forward thinking organisations have either created or adopted wellbeing practices. These include Well Being weeks, head and neck massages, mindfulness teaching, or mental health first aiders.

However, is this enough?   In an ideal world, the traditional medical first aiders on site should rarely be needed to bandage up a deep cut or twisted ankle because health and safety protocols are in place to ameliorate their occurrence.

There are no such comprehensive preventative mental health training or protocols in organisations at the moment. The above well being practices skim the surface only There’s a difference between pressure and stress. It’s impossible to avoid pressure in today’s world. There will always be deadlines, never ending workloads, stressed bosses, office politics, conflict, personal problems and a struggle for work life balance.

If the work force understood the psychological and behavioural reasons for turning pressure into stress, anxiety or depression then the majority of mental health “injuries” could be avoided.

Sian Barnard of Peaceful Minds Academy Ltd does just that. Sian, a CBT psychotherapist, recently relocated back to her native Bedlington from London. From her practice in Harley Street, Sian  treated executives and admin staff alike for “ burnout” .  This usually encompasses acute anxiety, low self-esteem, irritability, isolating tendencies, weepiness and depression. Physical symptoms such as headaches, insomnia, aching or tingling joints, panic attacks, digestive issues, pains in the chest and acid reflux.

The first thing Sian does is psycho-educate. This involves teaching clients how they have turned their pressures into stress. This gives a deep understanding of how their thinking has contributed to their symptoms and acts as a prevention for further stress. It’s this that is pivotal in the prevention of stress in the work place. Rather than just treat the symptoms Sian believes that everyone should become their own psychotherapist.

“ It’s not rocket science “ says Sian. “I teach stressed  12 year olds the same principles and they then have the tools for life “

Sian provides tailored workshops to large and small organizations. The main focus being on understanding how we tick. This is an invaluable tool throughout the management hierarchy.

“I’m now working with organizations that are now wanting to go to the next level of understanding and preventing mental health issues and not just massaging the symptoms”

By Emily