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We all have mental health

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You can’t talk too much about mental wellbeing. In fact, we don’t talk about it enough, and with extra pressures on our mental health this year, the more we open this topic up, the better.

My co-host, Mark Curtis and I have put mental health at the heart of one of our latest Impromptu Business Chats – and thank you to all our listeners for the great feedback, we’re really pleased to know you’re getting so much out of these podcasts.

Back to mental wellbeing. I’m a mental health first aider, trained to look for signs that a co-worker is struggling, and guide them towards the right help (ten of us at Larking Gowen are trained). I’m proud of this, but also aware that I’m not an expert, and while problems with our mental wellbeing can creep up on us, there’s a lot we can do before a problem becomes a crisis.

I began this blog with the statement: we all have mental health. That seems obvious, but there are still many limiting beliefs about mental health, none of which are written in stone. Forward-looking business leaders have a huge opportunity here: change comes from the top. In this podcast, Mark and I were excited to speak to Louise Newby, co-founder of Three Eggs, specialists in supporting workplace mental health and wellbeing. Three Eggs is all about embracing a proactive, pre-emptive approach to mental wellbeing that pays dividends for us as individuals, teams, and businesses. We came away from our chat with Louise with an inspiring vision – we are not victims of our mental wellbeing, but custodians of it. (We covered a lot of ground in the podcast. If you want practical tips and advice, I recommend listening in.

We each have it within our power to change the culture of silence around mental wellbeing. As business leaders, we can start that change by showing our own vulnerability. I can’t emphasise this enough, and I talk about a great example of this in the podcast. As responsible businesses, we put support structures in place, but we must encourage people to take these up – not enough of us do. It’s not unusual for businesses to locate posters about mental health on the back of toilet doors, like it’s some big taboo. That’s so wrong. We need to normalise it, get it out on our main noticeboards as well, bring it up in informal and formal settings, make sure people know help is out there.

One of my big take-aways from our podcast was about having the confidence to dig deeper. It is easy to ask a colleague how they are and take their first answer, but if we properly engage, ask again, and open up ourselves, it can make a real difference.

How can we care for our own wellbeing? Some of the best advice is so simple we might miss it, and most is free! Louise talked about the importance of sleep – have a nap if you need it, and create a relaxing evening routine. I know myself that an issue I’ve been dwelling on looks different after a good night’s sleep.

Don’t ignore basics like decent hydration, Louise talks about Vitamin D – in the UK, many of us don’t realise we have a deficiency – and get enough fresh air. I love running, or there’s walks, or yoga (Louise recommends Yoga With Adriene  with free videos as short as ten minutes and suitable for beginners). I’m learning a language for free on Duolingo which is giving me a new focus. Mark loves reading, which he says helps him stay in the moment, and that’s such a powerful way to free ourselves from anxiety and worry. We can all put our wellbeing centre stage, and as business leaders we can open up and help our teams feel comfortable talking about how they are doing. It’s great to know we don’t have to wait for a problem to become a crisis. With the right approach we can turn things around, and know that when we feel overwhelmed, there is help out there for us.

It’s quite clear that businesses that take the mental health and wellbeing of their teams seriously are not only doing the responsible thing, their performance levels are also thriving.

Like and subscribe for more Impromptu Business Chats, exploring new ways of looking at issues affecting the business community. Mark and I have more great topics planned for the New Year, and fantastic, knowledgeable guests, but let us know if there are issues you want us to cover.

James Lay


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Larking Gowen


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