The World Health Organisation recognises World Mental Health Day on 10 October every year. This year's theme set by the World Federation for Mental Health was 'mental health for all'. With this in mind, it seems a good idea to take stock of what we’re noticing in our clients, whether they are organisations who are facing employee relations issues or coachees who have stepped up their coaching amidst the pandemic.
It seems that many leaders are demonstrating a range of emotions and are letting these be seen by the workforce. There is exaggeration of extreme behaviour in certain leaders. This, in itself, is leading to stress within the workforce. Put against this a backcloth of the advertising in the 1980s of the dangers of HIV and the inaccurate predictions of the dreadful outcome of SARS, and we have already in place a backcloth on which to panic.
Therapists both locally and further afield are very busy, as are coaches. One of the main causes of this is that home working and the extra stress in our social, economic and indeed political lives has led to not just a lack of work life balance but a blurring of boundaries between work and home. Those who are detail orientated will dwell on detail and will often face more dread of potential catastrophes than those who are by definition more ‘big picture’. If everyone in the world were to catch Covid19, with the current death rates as now, there would be fewer deaths than there were in the 1918 flu epidemic. This does not at one level help us at all, but it makes us realise that the downside of the vast digital communication we now have enables us to know far more of the situation as it is happening that we did previously. This raises awareness to a level that it sometimes unhelpful. While we want to publish the need for “Hands, Face, Space”, the downside of this level of communication is to invoke terror in the minds of those who are pre-disposed anyway to anxiety. The result is enormous levels of anxiety in the workplace, with increasing instances of bad behaviour, e.g. bullying, which then becomes heightened still further by the apparent oversensitivity of those who feel they are victims. Even small things, such as not having good platforms on which to run meetings, with wifi failing and individuals struggling to hear, raise the level of strain. Economic stress as a consequence of the pandemic again raises anxiety. Finding a peaceful place in your home becomes even more important and yet more difficult, as the home has become the workplace and the workplace is invaded by domestic anxiety. There are those who hate change and yet every day we are given new instructions as to how to operate. Prevention is, of course, always better than cure, but this is very difficult when we are dealing with uncertainty.
Although this may seem like the wrong moment to finally embark on some therapy or some coaching, depending on your need (and the two are very different), this is probably the moment to do so. We need to be able to recognise the hidden depths we have which will help us to cope with constant change and raised levels of anxiety, not only in ourself but in other people, and how we can find the space we need to sit and think because although we cannot plan at the moment, there will come a time when the bar on planning is going to be lifted and we can be ready to leap forward.
Work can involve psychometrics and understanding not only different communication styles but different coping mechanisms. There are talkers and there are walkers, but probably we need to learn to be both. We also need to learn how we use media to support us as well as simply a useful work tool.
If you’d like to consider some coaching to put yourself in a better position not only now but for when the restrictions finally lift, and to equip yourself for future times of anxiety, then this may be the moment to get in touch.