"As someone who has been/is on a journey of mental health recovery and wellness, I can’t stress enough how important I feel an employer’s role can be in that journey. This goes far beyond the initial observation that someone in your organisation may be in crisis or needs help.
I transitioned from the military to the civilian workforce whilst addressing complex service-related mental health issues; a journey I am still on to this day. But If I look back at my path to recovery over the last 10 years, I can now see the true part that my various employers have played in my journey, both past and present. Thankfully, in my case these have all been positive.
If you are an employer or manager, it is important to understand that mental health awareness isn’t just about “Being Kind” or having access to mindfulness rooms or time out, in many cases it’s about playing a part in someone’s path to recovery, be that intentionally or unintentionally.
Employers, managers and colleagues may witness first-hand the highs and lows of someone’s journey to recovery. For example, they may see or notice the results of a medication plan being changed or dosages tinkered with, or they could have an employee embarking on or going through a therapy cycle, which can be both physically and mentally demanding. You may see the day-day effects of lack of sleep, reduced energy levels or general fatigue. You could be the first person someone talks to before, during or after a panic, anxiety attack or trauma related flash back. How you as a manager, employer or organisation deal with such situations is going to make a difference, so take the time to talk and understand what’s going on if you can.
I’ve been hugely fortunate that all my previous and current employers exhibit what I would deem the gold standard of support for mental health issues. This isn’t just about time off for doctor’s appointments or therapy sessions, it means taking the time to understand issues, treatment plans and any other factors that may need to be taken into account. As a business, it’s possible you could be that individuals only source of stability and structure at a difficult or troublesome time for them. Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t always mean people need mollycoddling or wrapping up in cotton wool; sometimes the best thing to do is provide that escape from the ‘comfort zone’ and endeavour to challenge and stimulate personal growth and confidence.
As an employer you could find yourself playing a pivotal role in an employee’s life journey to mental wellbeing or recovery. I challenge you to be that employer who sets the gold standard, because who knows the positive effect you could have on someone’s current situation and future life."