There’s a metaphor used frequently as inspiration for business leaders that commands “be like a swan - remain calm and collected on the surface, but paddle like hell underneath.” In other words, don’t let people see the chaos ensuing behind the scenes. 
 
At Clearfocus Training, we sing to a different tune. It’s our view that what goes on in the background directly affects how the public view you in the foreground, and subsequently, damages your bottom line. When businesses paddle like hell, it’s often because they’re sinking under the weight of poor systems, poor processes and poor communication. 
In November of last year, business leaders and unions wrote an open letter to the leaders of our county urging them to give as much weight to mental health as physical. Their message was simple: trivialising workplace mental health is inviting low productivity, poor profitability and severely impacting people’s quality of life. 
 
“Equalise the number of mental health first aiders with physical first aiders” they called in unison. “Break the stigma of mental health in the workplace”. 
Why is mental health training eclipsed by physical first aid? 
 
Mental illness is certainly not a new phenomenon. What is new is the conversation surrounding it. Mental health affects our psychological, social and emotional wellbeing. Basically, everything that cannot be seen by the naked eye unless it is known what to look for. 
 
The mental health movement has certainly seen an increase in businesses taking notice and implementing mental health measures. But statistics show that employers are still more willing to cram their workplaces full of first-aid boxes and teach CPR than they are to focus on mental health. 
 
This is largely down to the following three reasons: 
Employers aren’t sure how to tackle mental health. Physical first aid is a breeze in comparison. 
Health and safety standards in the UK are world-class and workplace lawsuits can have serious repercussions for profitability and reputation – something employers can’t risk. 
The costs of mental health action outweigh those of a few first aid boxes. 
 
Awareness is brilliant but action is essential 
 
Raising awareness is great – mental health is more documented now than ever before. But this can only go so far to breaking down the barriers surrounding mental health, much in the same way that creating noise around plastic in the ocean can only go so far to stopping the issue. 
 
The letter, which had backing from big names like Alistair Campbell and Len McCluskey, argued that cost should not be a consideration because spending money on improving workplace mental health is an investment. 
 
‘Each year, workplace mental health issues cost the UK economy almost £35 billion, with 15.4 million working days lost to work-related stress, depression or anxiety. But the cost is not just financial’ they said. 
 
Left untreated mental ill health impacts a person’s relationships with friends and family and ultimately their quality of life.’ 
 
Alistair Campbell was amongst the business leaders who signed the letter 
There’s a very visible seasonal slump that occurs over winter. Motivations ebb and the communal lull in energy is almost bonding. This is natural – almost everyone feels chirpier when the sun is shining. 
So how can we distinguish whether employees are genuinely feeling the effects of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), and what can we do to make their working lives easier? 
 
 
What is seasonal affective disorder? 
 
The symptoms of seasonal affective disorder are the same as normal depression. Unlike all-year-round depression, however, SAD is triggered by a lack of exposure to sunlight (or so it’s thought). This cycle of depression begins in autumn or winter and starts to improve in spring as the nights draw out. 
SAD sufferers will generally experience any of the following: 
 
Lethargy and decreased energy levels 
A constant low mood 
Weight gain 
Reduced concentration levels 
Difficulty getting out of bed in the morning 
 
Doctor Who fans entered 2019 with an exciting bang. The eagerly-anticipated festive episode was moved from its traditional slot on Christmas Day to January 1st. It was the first New Year’s Day episode to grace our screens in nine years and it featured the first-ever female Doctor. 
 
Since Jodie Whittaker’s entrance onto the scene, eagle-eyed Whovians have been in awe of her portrayal as the energetic life force that is the thirteenth Doctor.  
 
The new take on the age-old series has opened up entirely new conversations that go beyond the programme itself. In regenerations gone by, Doctor Who has certainly become less subtle with the social allegory. 
 
It got us to thinking. What has the long-standing BBC show taught us, and its millions of viewers, about mental health? 
A common business-man ethos is to make a profit at all costs but ironically, business owners are starting to see a price they can no longer afford, the expense of their own employees well-being. 
 
Why Business Owners are calling for Mental Health Training; 
 
It is important to recognize that businesses do not purposefully create a poor environment which generates high levels of stress, anxiety and mental health issues. However, the statistics speak for themselves and businesses now have to take action. 
For many of us inside the bubble of our own business, it can be incredibly difficult to see the areas in which we can improve for the optimisation of our business performance. One of the major factors holding businesses back, which is actually one of the more overlooked and minor human faculties; is conflict in the workplace. 
 
Here Are 5 Reasons Why Conflict in The Workplace is Holding Your Business Back 
Misdirected Focus 
 
Naturally, if there is to much time and energy dealing with conflict; then there are more important objectives which will be overlooked by default. This is, of course, the other side of the penny because if conflict problems are not resolved then conflict is most certainly your greatest problem. Not until effective communication is established will you be able to direct your focus to where it should be. 
Employee Engagement is a measurement of the relationship between an organization and its employees. Quite simply, if your employees do not have a sense of connection or desired attachment to the performance of your business, they very likely do not feel respected, rewarded or appreciated. 
 
As business owners, senior members of staff and managers, you have the direct opportunity to turn your business environment into a nourishing source of accomplishment through uplifting the way your employees feel about their role and attributes. This is by far the greatest form of Mental Health Training that works through prevention and of which will also benefit both their work experience and the success of your company. 
It's no secret that a great sense of well-being is the secret to happiness but unfortunately there is an ignored theme that happiness only belongs in our personal life. With an average of 40 hours being dedicated to our working week (8 hours a day) why should the focus on well-being be limited to a person's life outside of his or her career? It is clear that with such a massive chunk of our life being involved with our working responsibilities, employers should consider the company benefits in creating room for staff well-being. 
There is little mystery in why we start businesses, we aim to succeed in a financial gain and aim to carry out a professional life that we enjoy and are passionate about. Either way, the faculty of a business is to be “goal driven” but sometimes we can forget what drives our businesses or rather, who drives the business. In such a case we may unknowingly treat our staff like functioning parts to a bigger machine rather than the human beings of which we all are, and members of a team that we appreciate. 
As our understanding has evolved around Mental Health issues, so too has the development of therapies. Quite impressively, professionals have made serious progress in combating Mental Health. From the creation of a vast variation of therapeutic strategies, to raising awareness across the whole of the UK, no stone has been left unturned. But perhaps the oldest trick in the book - is a self help book and there are many reasons why you should turn to them for guidance. 
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