Teams, colleagues and mental health discussions - #1
Do people really talk about mental health in their teams?
This is our first public newsletter. We launched Acertivo.com two years ago and worked closely with a few customers to increase awareness about mental health in the workplace. We provided them with online tools for each employee to prevent and act early on possible signs of distress in the workplace.
Our approach is science-based and we are mostly automating tools used by certified psychotherapists.
But we also think that it is important to make this discussion public. There seems to be a good time now for this, as more companies have started to implement well-being programs in their teams.
So we are starting a newsletter where we will share our own perspective, but also articles from around the web that we think are valuable and sometimes will add our own commentary.
First, an article (written by our colleague Irina Paraschiv) about why people don’t talk about mental health at work and some practical tips for team managers, engineering managers, or team leaders to approach this subject:
Talking about mental health is rarely an easy task. Only recently and only in some circles the talk about our emotional struggles is starting to become wider and more acceptable. Still, there are plenty of teams in which talking about mental health & feeling down are conversations that you just don’t start.
We cannot work outside our emotions. We wake up with them, we make decisions with them and we basically function with them. When one member of the team is dealing with something, it will show and it will affect not only his performance and function but also the team’s. And if you are a team leader interested in growing your team and delivering results, then you have no other choice but to address this issue.
Read about the practical tools that you can use to open up this subject here: Why don't we talk about mental health in our team
Although there are a number of valid reasons why people shy away from talking about this, hearing stories of other people who shared their experiences can lower the pressure.
This is a good personal story of someone diagnosed with depression, an anxiety disorder, an eating disorder, and what they learned by approaching mental health topics with their colleagues or friends. It is mostly a story about openness and how it can inspire others to do the same:
When you mention illness or therapy in a casual conversation with a group of people, there is often enough someone who responds with their experiences. It is a simple matter of statistics. According to the State of Health in the EU Report of 2018, 17% of the population had a mental health problem during one year- that is more than one in six. So if the group is large enough, there is always somebody else who has had a similar experience.
It should not have come as a surprise that as soon as I started speaking about mental health issues with my colleagues, I learned I was not the only one who had been through hard times or had a loved one who had.
Full article here: Talking about Mental Health
I think knowing how to start this conversation can create a safe space for everyone to share their experiences, ask for help, or just be heard. The following article is focused on giving tips and tricks for leaders about how to approach mental health discussions, but I think all recommendations there can be used by anyone to kick start this kind of discussion, regardless it’s in a personal or professional setting:
Talking about mental health can feel tricky at best and terrifying at worst, however. And it becomes a vicious cycle — the fewer people talk about it at work (even when they know they and others are struggling), the more the stigma grows. To break this cycle, you have to address the issue proactively, strategically, and thoughtfully. After all, the way we talk to others who are dealing with anxiety (and to ourselves) has a major impact on how we feel.
Full article: Talking about mental health with your colleagues
PS: We are beginning to open our platform to anyone that wants to test it out. So if you are curious just go to https://app.acertivo.com and create an account and poke around. Or if you have feedback just shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org - we are here wanting to talk about this.