Who’s afraid of the Big Bad “Mental Health” Wolf?

Mental health is not a problem, just like being pregnant is not an illness. What works without robust mental health? And what is robust mental health? 

Obvious? Well, clearly not in organisations.

We all have mental health; it’s just whether we have positive and robust health or not. Waking up in the morning and feeling low and not wanting to go to work may be a mental health issue, just as waking up and with the snivels may be a physical health issue – and maybe these two are often linked too. Neither may be sufficient to keep you off work – but then on the other hand, when the snivels and a low mood combine, it’s almost impossible to drag yourself off the sofa.

The attitude of organisations’ is all too often that of seeing mental health as something “others” have, you know, “those ones who are not like us…” And this attitude is responsible for issues like stress being treated in the same way as we treat someone who is cross about forgetting their lunch.

I am serious. Organisations’ collude with us to take the view that mental health is only worth considering when it has already gone so far wrong that there is little to be done, other than some prescription drugs and long term absence.

Buck up and think positive!

Should we really assume that mental health can only be measured by a diagnosis – such as depression or a psychoses? Would we say that unless you are seriously ill you are not ill? And do we really think that if you ignore mild issues or symptoms that the thing will get better all on its own every time?

Would we be this cavalier with people’s physical health? Say, for example, you have a colleague who says that she has found a lump in her breast – its not stopping her from coming to work, so she is not going to do anything about it. What would you say? The obvious answer is that the lump may be benign, but that’s no reason to disregard its significance. Would you even think about saying “buck up and think positive and don’t give it another thought”?

So should we be this indifferent with the mental health of our people? If someone is feeling low or disorientated we frequently say ” be more positive”. But it matters.


And why should an organisation care? I’ll tell you why:

If you don’t look after the mental health of your people you will not have emotionally engaged people. And it’s emotionally engaged people who will always ‘go the extra mile’, to deliver profits, customer satisfaction, efficiency, and top value for money.

Mental health and emotional engagement are two sides of the same coin.  And yes, its a great idea to give people access to better health: healthy eating, active life and the rest, but if the mind is not functioning, the rest simply can’t.

Start looking after mental health and you will reap the rewards in terms of your bottom line. The proof of this is all in the research. What are we so afraid of?

I champion emotional engagement, giving time as a Guru with Engage for Success. My engagement services include a unique questionnaire which makes the invisible, visible – getting you in touch with what people really think. Find out more here

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