Mental health is something we all possess. When it is good, we have a sense of purpose and direction and feel that we can cope with whatever life (and work) throws at us. But just as our physical health fluctuates, so too our mental health goes through ups and downs. Raising awareness of potential mental health issues in the workplace is part of fostering an inclusive workplace, where people feel able to bring their whole selves to work.
Evidence shows that workplaces with high levels of mental wellbeing are more productive. EEG promotes workplace wellbeing and has a business goal of being watchful of, and then improving on, the collective mental health of our global workplace environment, so that everyone feels supported and included, particularly in the more difficult times. That is why we provide Life Coaching sessions. Lorraine O’Sullivan is one of our life coaches and here she provides more insight into what she does at EEG – My name is Lorraine and I have the privilege of being one of the Life Coaches for EEG.
I was initially approached in April 2020 when Covid struck which meant that most people were working from home in isolation. EEG reached out to me as they were concerned about the potential impact of staff working alone and wanted to offer some support for those who felt they might benefit.
Initially staff who contacted were both curious and apprehensive about the coaching process. All of them expressed a feeling of being cut off and unable to talk to colleagues on a daily basis alongside a concern about being seen as having some sort of mental health crisis if they worked with me. I always reassure people that taking care of your Mental Health is like a car having an MOT, you do it to ensure that that everything continues to run smoothly and preempt any problems before they arise and become harmful. I believe it should be a normal part of life not something associated with breaking down and needing repairs.
When first meeting potential clients I also explain the fundamental difference between coaching and counselling. ‘Coaching helps people to achieve a specific aim or goal that is decided by the person whereas Counselling focuses on the problems or difficulties of life in general, where they stem from and how to overcome them’.
Since April 2020 I have worked with a number of people from EEG. I always start with an introductory session where I explain how I work, discuss the issue that someone wants to work on and agree a timescale. If people are happy to continue we start with eight weekly sessions. Some of my previous clients have successfully addressed the issue within that timeframe whilst for others it has taken a little longer. I think in all cases people are surprised at how relaxed the sessions are and how ‘normal’ it is. They actually look forward to them and have told me that they prioritize them in their diary once they get comfortable. No two clients come with the same issue but they all express surprise at how much they have successfully worked through their problem, how beneficial the process has been and in most cases how enjoyable.
I always make sure that every client is comfortable with what we are doing and provide a safe secure space for them to talk about specific issues in total confidence. Everyone I work with knows that no reports are sent back. All EEG know is the start and end date of the set number of sessions.
I would like to thank EEG and all my clients for the privilege of working with them and for continuing to trust in me and the Coaching process. I also hope that by reading this it encourages more people to get a mental health MOT.
Below are 4 ways to support employee wellness
1. Open safe communication channels
Leaders are encouraged to have an empowering communication style and open a safe and respectful communication channel. Use communication to reduce the stigma and discrimination.
2. Promote well-being
Encourage employees to use their vacation time. Some companies do this by limiting the amount of vacation employees can roll over into the next year. Develop a return-to-work process so that employees who need to take a leave of absence because of a mental health issue feel supported when they come back.
3. Provide mental health coverage
Invest in providing mental health services in your business or as part of your health care plan. Even a life coaching package can be a first step in the right direction.
4. Create a supportive environment
Treating mental and physical health as equally important. Create opportunities for employees to build connections with each other, such as through social events, affinity groups, and electronic message boards. Workplace relationships that are positive provide a source of support.
October – Mental health awareness month is important especially because of all the misconceptions and stigma surrounding mental health issues, people often suffer in silence and don’t seek treatment for their conditions. Mental health awareness is an important initiative to improve understanding of mental health conditions and increase access to healthcare for those who need it.