Time to Talk Day 2020 is all about encouraging everyone to have a conversation about Mental Health. I’ve seen first hand the power of talking about mental health – both for me personally, my friends, family and colleagues.
One of the biggest learnings I’ve had is to think about mental health in the same way you think about your physical health – as something everyone has. Something where you have periods of strength and periods where you’re not quite so healthy, and most importantly, seeing your mental health as something to be worked on. (Clearly, there is a distinction between mental health and mental illness).
Research we conducted found the majority of business owners talk to their life partner or business partner. Many found it hard to reach out and start a conversation though. Often having the default response to the question “how’s business?” as “it’s great”. I’d love that to change. I still struggle with this myself sometimes.
As business owners, many look to us for leadership and guidance. But, we often forget to put our own oxygen masks on first. At Wow, we’re lucky enough to work with hundreds of business owners who are passionate about what they do, passionate about their teams – and we see it as our role to be there when needed. This is ingrained in our Wow Client Experience Principles, which include making people feel we have their back and walking a mile in their shoes. We have also trained up seven of our team as Mental Health First Aiders to educate ourselves on how to help clients and each other at Wow.
Internally at Wow, making it “ok to not be ok” and openly talking about mental health has had a huge impact. You don’t always realise the number of people around you who are fighting their own battles. The feedback we’ve had from the team at Wow has been heart-warming – showing the power of simply talking and being open for conversations. As well as our Mental Health First Aiders, our team also have access to an Employee Assistance Programme which is a confidential and compassionate, expert support line that anyone can call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Mostly, it’s about the caring environment we’re trying to create – not just for one day, but for every day.
There’s a wider point here for our society in general. As Desmond Tutu said, “There comes a point where we need to stop just pulling people out of the river. We need to go upstream and find out why they’re falling in.”
For me personally, plucking up the courage to talk about my mental health and acknowledging the triggers and drivers that affect it has been a life-saver. Not just for today. I hope by sharing some of my experience and what we do at Wow it will encourage others to find time to talk too.
I am definitely no expert and I am not trying to give advice, but I know the difference it made to me when other people shared their story with me.