Mental health matters

I believe in wellness-recovery through restorative work, creative process and circle-work; the vast benefits of story-telling in all its forms; in mindfulness and reflective practice; and in the individual’s innate capacity to respond to situations in our lives with greater emotional intelligence, resilience and grace.

Once. We. Learn. How.

Over the years I’ve developed a special interest in mental health, notably how the arts contribute to health, healing and wellness, but also in what workplaces can do to foster environments that will allow more people to flourish.

In my work as a coach, I frequently come across people who have at some point become stuck, lost, confused, stressed, anxious, or depressed. They’ve all been somewhere on the path of regrouping, restoring and transforming themselves, and creating something new.

Sometimes the state of their mental health has affected their work, but more often it’s been all the stuff that goes on in the workplace that has adversely affected the rest of their life amplifying difficulties and impacting mental health.

It’s easy for people to say ‘those people’ … ‘they’ need to… develop a thicker skin, not take things so personally…. become more resilient. This may be true, but does it address the root of the problem?

Bill Wilkerson, in BRAIN Health + BRAIN Skills = BRAIN Capital  Final Report of the Global Business and Economic Roundtable on Addiction and Mental Health and his final address to Lundbeck Global Conference March 2013 said…

“We published a slate of management practices most likely to cause, exacerbate or complicate emotional distress or symptomatic mental illness – principally depression and anxiety. A sampling of these offending practices: Unreasonable demands day-in and day-out, withholding employee discretion, rejecting ‘out of hand’ workload concerns, randomly changing priorities, the treadmill effect at work, and perceived unfairness on a perpetuated scale… chronic job stress is a psycho-social workplace health and safety hazard as dangerous as unsafe equipment, polluted air and criminally poor maintenance.”

If this sounds familiar, you’ll know that people work hard to work through stress, anxiety and depression. And then sometimes “they hit a wall.” Restoring oneself from those situations is a journey that includes personal growth, autonomy, self-determination, hope, empowerment, and supportive relationships.

Those relationships are often found within career counselling, coaching, peer support, or through social interactions that include some type of art-making or other forms of creativity. There’s a fair deal of healing involved. And yes, many of us become much more resilient. I say ‘us’ because I’ve been one of those people.

So many of the extraordinarily talented people I work with now have chosen self-employment as a way out of chronic job stress and perpetual dissatisfaction or dis-ease. Many are driven to succeed.

But here’s the thing.

What I’ve also seen is that many people flounder in self-employment when they a) don’t have a written business plan to help them prioritize, guide their actions and focus on what’s profitable, b) they’re under-capitalized and haven’t done the math that will help them understand profitability, c) aren’t working from a place anchored in a rock solid personal foundation, which includes optimal mental health and d) don’t have a strong support system in place.

For me, it’s all interconnected – right livelihood, the ability to express our true spirit through the work we choose to do is directly related to optimal mental health, a strong personal foundation – having a dynamic balance across our whole-life, and resilience. This perspective underlies my coach-approach, even when the conversation is about marketing.

If you think I can help you get clear and get moving again, please let me know.