The People Project PodcastPodcast

Episode 1: What defines mental health in the workplace?

 

 

Welcome to The People Project, the podcast about my journey to understand what it takes to create great company culture.

My name is Jonathan Richards, and in this episode, I explore the topic of mental health in the workplace.

I speak to Mike Ellen, the training and resilience manager at Mind in West Essex, we talk about what mental health is and why it's an important topic for every business.

My goal was to learn from Mike what it takes to create a supportive environment that challenges the stigma of mental health. Mike covers the impact of poor mental health on businesses and indeed the UK economy. He also shares some really useful tools that every business would benefit from using.

 Enjoy the podcast.

Series 1 | Episode 1 | What defines mental health in the workplace? 

JR: I'm sitting here with Mike Ellen who's from Mind in West Essex. Welcome Mike, thanks for coming along to Breathe HQ.

ME: Thank you for inviting me.

JR: No, you're welcome.

Mental health for SMEs

So, you came along to us at Breathe, what a month or so ago, and gave us a really good talk to all of our line managers about the way to handle and maybe identify mental health in the workplace. I thought it would be really good, first off, if you could just introduce yourself; say a bit more about where you're from and what it is you do there.

ME: Yeah, sure okay. Well thank you for inviting me along. So, I've been in mental health for about 19 years now, I started off volunteering at my local Mind. I'm from Mind in West Essex, we're based up around sort of Stansted Airport area and we go down to sort of North East London, so we cover most of the M11 corridor.

I started also volunteering, supporting adults with a wide range of mental health problems. And, I got a real buzz out of doing that. I then took a part-time role, and then about ten years ago we changed our service model and so I trained to become a therapist working with adults. I did that for a few years, and then a couple years ago I did further training for working with children and young people, so I work in schools a couple of days’ a week doing individual therapy.

Workplace training

Workplace training is really taking off these days, so we deliver all over the country and it's really good to see that workplaces are taking mental health more seriously.

JR: Amazing. For those people that don't know about Mind, can you just tell us a little bit about what Mind is?

ME: Yeah, so you've got national Mind, which covers England and Wales and they're sort of largely a campaigning organisation, so making it a way for us to talk about our mental health.

There's a lot of stigma and discrimination that stops people talking about how they're feeling, and they tend to bottle things up and then that causes problems later on. So, through various means

It's about saying: ‘Okay, we can talk about our mental health’

and access the really good services that are available. It's also about Mind, so we’ll keep prodding the government to say okay, you keep promising this money and power the team between mental and physical health, let's actually see that money come through to the frontline.

Then England and Wales are split up into about 140 local Minds and they provide the services in your local communities. So, it could be often around social inclusion, when people are experiencing poor mental health their self-esteem really drops away and they tend to become sort of really keeping within themselves and so that makes the problem worse. So, there’s various sorts of social inclusion activities, plus commonly talking therapies. Each local Mind will put on different services to help and support people to get back to where they want to be.

JR: Do most have an offering of training that they do for businesses?

ME: That tends to vary. That one I guess is perhaps sort of a little bit random in a way, so not all of them do that, they focus a lot more on individual support.

JR: Great okay, I know you travelled quite a long way to get here, so you obviously do some travelling around that.

ME: Yeah, we used to that and it's just good to get out and about and deliver the word really.

JR: Yeah, absolutely. Probably would be a good thing if we started off with sort of a common understanding of what is mental health;

What do we mean by mental health?

ME: I think, you know, it's an interesting question. If we'd have asked that question say, 5 or so years ago, people would have really focused on the mental illness side, it was very negative just because the word 'mental'. That word carries its own stigma and discrimination with it. It's very hard to define mental health.

One of the ways we can describe it, it's how we think, how we feel, how we behave, it's our self-esteem. If we have good self-esteem, we tend to have confidence to try things out, to not be so afraid of failure. If we have low self-esteem, we tend to worry about what people think of us, we tend to feel that perhaps we can't achieve things and perhaps our life isn't quite as enriching as we would like it to be. Yeah so there's that part of it. Also, we can think of mental health as how we cope with daily life, how we cope with stress because we know we can face the stress from all sorts of places. It's about how we sort of manage what coping strategies that help.

JR: I've read and certainly heard about, we spend so much time and effort looking after our physical health. Yeah but we don't spend anyway near enough time looking after our mental health and the two are so closely linked, aren't they?

ME: Yeah that's right, you know we get a lot of public information about how we manage our physical health.

What public information do we get about managing our mental health?

There's very little. And in a way it is the same thing, so we're looking at exercise, healthy eating, trying to get enough sleep but also crucially, talking. If we've had a stressful day, we just want to offload to somebody. We don't necessarily want answers, we don't want to be fixed, but just talking about things to get it off our chest - it's a really important way of managing our mental health.

JR: And, of course I guess then, we spend so much of our day in the workplace, that's why it's so important for us to have the ability to do that in the workplace?

ME: Yeah that's absolutely right. And I think in the workplace there is a worry from people that if they talk about it, perhaps they're not coping or feeling low or anxious, they're worried how that's going to be perceived, that in some way they’re failure or weak, or they can't cope and what sort of response will that have? What would that mean for them in terms of the workplace? Will they then perhaps be pushed aside, not be offered the promotion, for instance. People often struggle to talk about mental health.

JR: Yeah, no I get it, I get it. Because we're particularly talking about businesses and small businesses in particular; the life of a small business or certainly a small business owner, there's many, many pressures and lots of different things to consider.

Why should business leaders and managers focus on mental health?

ME: I think the important thing there, is that if we want people to do their job properly, looking after someone's mental health is really important. Just being aware of the stresses in a workplace and how that impacts on people. You know, if people are feeling over-stressed, perhaps they’re anxious, perhaps low mood, they're not able to perform at their best in the workplace, so to provide some sort of basic support or awareness is really important.

JR: Just as we were talking before we started recording, you talked about some of the most recent stats around, which were pretty shocking.

ME: Yeah, so your latest figures show that mental health cost the UK economy around about £99 billion pounds a year.

JR: Wow.

For UK businesses, it costs about £42 billion pounds a year. 91 million working days are lost per year through mental ill-health, relating to stress, anxiety and depression commonly.

JR: under these stats that Mind have brought out, or is it the government or who's producing them?

ME: It's a collaboration between government and Mind, so they're fairly sort of common stats really and they've been sort of that high for quite a while as well, so it's nothing new but the support for mental health often has been ignored in the past. Yeah that I think you know with those sorts of figures people are thinking actually perhaps we need to do something about this.

JR: There's a real proven case for businesses spending time, effort and money on improving mental health in the workplace.

ME: Yeah there is, look at the number of people experiencing poor mental health. Typically, the figure is one in four people in any one year will experience poor mental health. Realistically, it's reckoned it's more like three in five people, so if you think of any workplace, sixty percent of those employees could be experiencing some form of poor mental health. What's the impact on the individual and how they perform in the workplace?

JR: Absolutely and then I guess add all of that together and the effect on the workplace, it's no wonder that the UK productivity levels aren’t probably where they should be.

ME: Yeah, but it's also - you know - the impact on that individual. Which, you know we mustn't forget that, although we're looking at sort of profitability in the workplace, it's the impact on that person.

JR: Yeah, absolutely; totally agree. I love the idea you introduced us to the idea of:

A bucket full of stressors

Yeah how stress builds up because you just run through that, how that built up. I think that did a really good job for me of explaining how stress can get too much in the workplace.

ME: Yeah, so the idea is we talk about stress, if we've all got a stress bucket, it is just a virtual one but the size of that equates to our own ability for dealing with stress. I think importantly what we need to recognise, is that we all have different levels of stress. How much we can tolerate, it’s not a one-size-fits-all.

So, if their stress is poor, and they can come from in workplace, they can come from outside the workplace, it could be money worries, it could be health worries, it could be looking after children - any sort of life events, it could be moving house, divorce, what have you. The stresses will build up, if we don't actually look at managing those stresses till it gets really near the top. As that stress bucket fills up our tolerance for dealing with daily life gets less and less until it's right near the top and it could be the slightest thing that tips it over. It could be one of the examples we give:

Okay you're having a stressful day; you want to go and get a cup of tea. You go into the kitchen, there’s no milk. That's it, you know that's the final straw. If a stress bucket tips over and then someone has an angry outburst maybe, or just runs off or kicks off, what have you and it's not just that last incident that's the problem, it's all of that stress.

JR: How in a business environment, where the bucket has been filling up maybe over weeks and it's just something in the work environment that tips it over the edge, what's the way that a manager in an organisation should handle that?

ME: I think in a way it's about knowing your staff, knowing what their usual sort of behaviour is. What we're looking for is any change in someone's usual behaviour, so it could be they're becoming a bit snappy, a bit irritable, maybe it's about quality of work, perhaps they're checking themes more than usual, perhaps their concentration is going, perhaps their decision-making isn't quite what it used to be. It could be personal appearance, perhaps they're neglecting themselves a little bit. So, it's about recognising those and going and asking them ‘how are, are they alright’.

JR: So, it's all about trying to anticipate that the bucket is filling up?

ME: Yeah, absolutely. You know the sooner that we can ask how they are, then we can put something in place.

What about if people in a business felt it was none of their business?

JR: You know, they sort of felt that everybody has a right to their own privacy and they didn't want to get involved, how would you handle that? How would you handle that?

ME: Well there is always that of course, you know personal privacy - which we must respect - but if we're talking about the workplace, it is duty of care which everybody has. So, if we do spot someone isn't their usual self, it's just about being human really, just some care and saying, ‘Hey, you don't seem your normal self, what's up with you? You know, is there anything going on you want to talk about?’

JR: That brings to mind, there’s an employee engagement survey called the Gallup G12 and one of the questions in there is ‘have you got a best friend at work’ and that sort of brought it to mind, because if everybody has a best friend at work or at least a close friend at work, then it's that person that's going to spot that kind of thing isn't it?

ME: Yeah, it is, and it could be just in conversation with somebody, someone might say ‘you know what, my sleep’s really bad these days’ and it's very easy just to ignore that – ‘oh poor you, okay, that’s a shame’. But actually, that's one of the first indications that someone's mental health isn't quite as good. Yeah, so it's about, ‘okay what's going on?’

JR: I heard you say earlier on that everybody's stress levels are different or their tolerance to stress. Is that something that people are born with, or is it based on experience? I guess it's experience isn't it?

ME: It's a combination of factors really. There's an accepted model, so it's the DNA that we inherit from our parents and various genes will get switched on and off, so that will sort of dictate your base personality, basically how sensitive you are. Then it's about the quality of those first few years. Absolutely crucial, so the first seven or eight years of life, the relationship we have with our main caregivers because we learn how to be human from them. So, if you have parents and they maybe experience anxiety or depression, you almost learn that that's a normal way of being. So, if stresses build up, you might quite quickly tip into anxiety or depression.

It's a combination of those two plus our sort of close environment really, you know where you live... Is there a supportive environment, you know, do you have enough money, what's your close family like, where you live, you know, it's a hope for employment, what schooling’s like? Add all of that together and it sort of dictates how we deal with life’s stresses.

JR: Now you used a couple of terms in there, you talked about anxiety and depression. There are a number of different types of mental health or illnesses, is that the right word? I think people can be very wary of using the wrong language.

What are the types of problems that people might face?

ME: So, the most common mental health problem is anxiety, and we all experience anxiety, so it's a case of ‘well when does that become a problem?’ And that's largely when it begins to interfere with people's daily lives. If perhaps they're worrying too much, they can't switch off, perhaps sleeping is affected, perhaps if they're beginning to avoid doing things, that's the time when people ideally would need to seek help because anxiety tends to grow and grow and will really impact on someone's life. Then depression and anxiety often go hand-in-hand, but depression is more about a constant low mood, so not just for a few days, at least two weeks and sort of lack of interest or pleasure in doing things and sort of very gloomy view of things.

JR: Really, okay, so there are things to look out for. Again, that just brings to mind something that I heard the other day around the subject of meditation.

The person I was listening to, was describing that every so often in our day-to-day lives, it's like on a computer where we keep leaving windows open, we've minimized the windows but they're still open, each of the open windows uses up a tiny little bit of our resources and all of a sudden you get to the point where there's too many windows open and the computer crashes. Now this lady was suggesting that meditation was a way to try and close some of the windows. It's sort of somewhat gelled with all of that, I don't know where you are on meditation, we're going off topic a bit.

ME: Any sort of holistic type of therapy is really good and it depends what works for each person. I think things like meditation and mindfulness, they just give a bit of calm, particularly say with mindfulness, which is obviously very similar. It's about you just noticing those negative thoughts.

You're almost letting those thoughts just pass through your mind and you're focusing on the here and now because with anxiety, it’s about sort of obviously forecasting the head, thinking things are going to go wrong. 'If I don't sort this out, I’m gonna get in trouble at work, I'm going to lose my job, that's going to ruin my relationship, lose my house' and so on.

JR: Is that what’s called catastrophizing?

ME: Yeah, and that can happen so easily, so meditation and mindfulness just gives us sort of a few minutes of peace from that and allows us just to perhaps look at things a bit differently.

JR: Communication - we've talked about communication a little bit, tell us about how people communicate and...

Signs of mental health issues in the workplace

ME: I think initially it is about those changes in someone's usual behaviour, it's then about just simply asking them how are they, ‘you don't seem yourself today’ you know ‘is everything okay?’. I think most people, even if their world is falling apart, they're going to say ‘yeah I'm fine’ and then so it's about maybe coming back with something you've noticed.

It could be: 'Okay, perhaps your time-keeping is a bit out these days, quality of work isn't quite the same, you've been perhaps a little bit snappy and we’re just wondering if everything's okay?'

Again, people may still depend on the relationship with the person, they may say, 'actually, yeah you know things haven't been quite so good for me at the moment', but people may just say ‘no, no everything's absolutely fine’, and then it's about saying ‘Okay well my doors’ always open if you want to come talk’.

And you'll quite often find people will come back, say, next day and say ‘actually thanks for asking there is something that’s bothering me, can we talk about it?’

[Music]

The Sick Report:

The fight against the stigma around mental health is real, it begins with being human.

This year, we've decided to tackle it head-on. We've published version 2 of the Sick Report, which just touches the surface on the everyday issues employees and employers face with mental health issues.

The stats are in, and it turns out the silence cost UK businesses over 1.4 billion pounds a year in unexplained sick days. That's not surprising really when you consider that four out of ten employees would feel uncomfortable opening up about their mental health to their manager.

Download the Sick Report today and don't forget to subscribe to The People Project. Come and join us challenging the stigma around mental health.

Breathe Sick report 2019

[Music]

JR: The relationship between managers and their employees can often be sort of the weight of history of the manager-employee relationship as being somewhat confrontational. So, the idea of transactional analysis and the type of conversations there, maybe you can just touch a little bit on that - I'm sure it's pretty difficult to explain in a podcast - but give us some idea about how transactional analysis works, it's a fascinating subject.

How transactional analysis works:

ME: Okay, so the idea was first put forward by Eric Bern. The idea being is that we have three ego states within us, so we have: parent, adult and child.

  • So, the parent takes the form of someone who is either controlling or nurturing.
  • An adult state is where we're just in the moment we deal with facts, so it's: okay, what is the problem, what is the solution, let's find a way of getting to the solution so we don't have any emotions in that there's also no criticism no fault finding it just is what it is.
  • Then a child ego state is where we can either be adapted-compliant where we basically we give way irrespective of our feelings or it could be rebellious.

In terms of how we get to those states, so as a child growing up, it would be you have been noticing how your parents behave, so children are after watching their parents and how they manage situations, so a parent perhaps could be quite critical for instance or quite harsh or maybe very loving and supportive.

So if we take this to the workplace, it's then we're dealing with say a manager; staff member comes to him and it could be that particular situation for that manager almost takes him back to his childhood, so he goes into the parent role, right, and so he thinks ‘right ok I'm going to tell this staff member what to do’ you're doing my way or else.

It could be the employee says 'actually we've got a lot of work on, I don't know if we're going to get it done in time' and the manager might tip into that parent mode and might say, 'you've got to get it done'. And so what happens then, it sort of invites the person to go into their child mode, so the employee might say: ‘all right, okay I'll get it done; I've got to work all over the weekend to get it done, but yes, I'll do it’ and so the manager gets his way, gets the job done, but you're destroying the relationship between employee and manager.

That's not going to work. Or it could be that the employee becomes a rebellious child and says: ‘no I'm still doing this, sort it out yourself you can't talk to me like that’.

So, I do a lot of workplace training and we get to hear that a lot of people are promoted for their technical ability. Suddenly they're put in charge of a team of people which they've never had to do before, have no experience of and they will manage that team of people in a way perhaps similar to how they were brought up, how their parents treated them and maybe how they think they're expected to behave as a manager.

Suddenly you're dealing with a whole host of characters with all their different personalities, which might be very different to the actual manager’s viewpoint and it's how does that management deal with that personality, how did you get everybody to gel and work productively?

It’s really difficult.

JR: That raises so many questions as a business grows. So for instance, our business here at Breathe, when we were a few people, everybody was moving incredibly quickly.

We were just all about movement, all about going very quickly and everybody would try everything and do everything and break everything. As we've grown, as we've got more people in the organisation, as we've got more customers, we've had to very deliberately slow down and sometimes it's quite hard for the leader. I find it quite hard to actually slow down enough to give other people a chance to do things or to take that responsibility. I can see it in in examples where I've actually done, that I've done the parent-child piece

Yeah and now you explained it, it's how it can switch off the employee’s ability to solve problems, even. The best meetings we have, are where we get a bunch of adults in a room together and we have an adult to adult conversation, it makes it so clear. What are some tips that our managers could use to try, and I guess that the least spot themselves going into that parent role, but at best to stay out of it?

ME: I think in a way if you spot yourself talking as if your parents would talk, that's one of the signs that you're being that parent. That may be a good thing, that parent could have been very sort of nurturing and supportive, so that's not a bad thing at all but if you hear yourself talking as a parent perhaps a bit harsh or critical, telling people what to do, that's obviously one sign really. Because anyway you said you know you want to empower you know staff members to sort of feel they can approach you for a start, and see what ideas they've got, you know if people feel they have a say in their workplace, they're more likely to sort of want to engage better.

Yeah really, but also, I think as a manager, you don't want to take on too much as well because you've got staff there you know so a manager has to be aware of their own stress levels. Yeah if you take away if someone comes to you with a problem you say okay don't leave it I'll fix it, well actually you're taking on extra work and can you really do that? But also, that doesn't empower the individual to grow themselves.

JR: No, I understand that and I can see that so often, where particularly the owner of a small business, where they never put the business down, never goes away. Yeah you know there have been times in the past where I can wake up in the morning and I've clearly been thinking about the business all night and I can see that it could be so easy for the business owner to fall into the trap of trying to look after somebody else's mental health but actually not thinking about their own.

ME: Absolutely, we have to look after number one, we need to be able to look after other people.

JR: Right, so I guess it's like put your own gas mask on first in an aeroplane.

ME: Yeah and it's also giving yourself permission to do that, which is really important.

JR: Yeah because we don't like failing as business owners.

ME: No that's right. If I give an example of the relationship as well.

Example of transactional analysis at work:

Years ago I used to work in engineering and my boss at the time it was really good at his job but not quite as good at sort of managing people right, and so it's a very sort of critical environment for anybody. If a customer rang up and said there was a mistake, you know the boss had walked down to the drawing office to say 'Okay, who drew this?' and everybody would be almost like quaking in their boots because you'd get a public telling off. It was really embarrassing. So, we worked really hard just to avoid that embarrassment, but we didn't build a respect for this guy. He then retired; we got a new manager with more modern thinking. And so, it was a case of ‘okay mistakes happen, if they do, let's find out why and let's try and put in steps so it doesn't happen again’.

So yeah, it was just as profitable, everybody worked just as hard, but we had a much greater respect and we would go and tell him if we were struggling. So, look, you know, 'there's a bit too much work on at the moment is there something we can do?', whereas with the old boss, we wouldn't, we would just sort of bash on regardless. So, the end result was the same, but you had much happier employees with the more modern thinking

JR: Right, there's a lot of talk about employee happiness and just generally happiness. In total, is there a difference between good stress and bad stress or stress and pressure?

What's the difference between good and bad stress?

ME: I think is probably the way it's referred to. Yeah, I think more commonly we think of pressure and stress, so pressure can be good for us you know, it’s what motivates us in the job, it gives us some enjoyment, gives us energy to do the job and we get a buzz hopefully then from doing the job. We have to be careful as that can tip into stress. Stress is when we get cortisol released. Long-term stress can be really damaging, high blood pressure, potential heart attacks and strokes if it isn’t managed.

So, stress basically is not good, pressure is good. Importantly, it's about for every individual to realise 'okay when is this sort of tipping from pressure into stress'. When am I perhaps my sleep is being affected if I can switch off maybe like Sunday night you begin to think oh no I've got to go into work in the morning, what's it going to be like? You know, that could be the signs of stress beginning to develop.

JR: What are some of the things that you hear people saying in the workplace that you see as being no-nos. They might be safe with the best intentions, but do you hear people saying obvious things? What should they avoid?

What not to say to an employee with depression:

ME: Oh, things like: well just get on with it right you know and we're all stressed you know we've all got to manage what I can't you and sort of horrible phrase ‘man up’ whatever they're supposed to know absolutely so it's quite dismissive you know and that's often when safest are coming from a line manager. They really don't know what to say and all they're focusing on is just getting the job done, irrespective of a person's feelings.

JR: Is there I guess sort of almost a denial we'll just push on through maybe well-meaning, we'll just do it'll be okay, we just got a little bit more we just keep going, do you see that as being an issue just in sort of a constant steady drive?

ME: Yeah I think so, I guess that comes back from the way perhaps lack of training for sort of line managers, and that they often don't know what to say, so that's what they all say rather nothing because they perhaps feel that they have to be in charge and always doing the right thing. Just because they're under performance issues as well and they’re monitored so they want to be seen to doing something.

JR: Yeah, whose responsibility is my mental health? Is it mine or is it my workplaces’?

ME: It's both really, I think primarily it's our own personal individual responsibility that is the main issue because you know our mental health doesn't just sort of start and stop at the workplace and mental health is with us 24/7 so it's sort of there maybe stresses outside of work that get brought in to work. You know, work may be going well, but if you've got outside stresses coming in, you're going to sort of perhaps be a bit snappy, again you can't concentrate and what-have-you.

So, it's down to the individual I think really to manage their own mental health.

JR: But there is a strong responsibility on the employer to be aware and to be to be open to conversations. Is that correct, am I'm reading that right?

ME: Yeah and I think what's important is for the workplace, say leadership teams and line managers, is to be aware of what the stresses their staff can be under. That's really important and sometimes that can get lost. Say for a line manager, they're focusing on their own particular job, which yes, they have to, but it's about what stress is from my staff and what is my team going through. Are the deadlines a bit too tight? Do we need one or two extra people to get this job done?

Yeah, whatever is going on, when we deliver some of these courses in the workplace, we get managers thinking 'okay, what are the stressors your staff are going through' to see if they actually recognise that and with varying results.

JR: What are some of the things that a business should actually do if they want to improve their mental health awareness to start that journey to becoming a better employer?

How can small businesses improve mental health at work?

ME: What really works is for everybody in the organisation to have mental health awareness training and that's right from the very top right down to sort of all staff. That way everybody is aware of what are the signs and symptoms, people are aware that it's not a weakness or a failure on the part of somebody if they are experiencing mental health so there's a greater understanding. Also, I think by everybody having that sort of training and everybody buys into actually being able to talk about mental health. It's not just a tick box affair that a company is going through. So sort of like general employees think okay we can come talk about this he's been taken seriously.

JR: Are there specific tools that maybe a company that wants to spend a little bit more money on this? What are the tools or the services that are out there to help them?

ME: You've got some sort of variety of tools, which I think often aren’t well-known about really, so some companies have an Employee Assistance Program and I think that's going to be the first place to go to really because you'll get access for that support fairly quick. As well as mental health support, you've commonly got legal advice, you've got sort of financial advice as well and that is totally confidential and that's something that should be pointed out. Okay then you've got GP got your local NHS talking therapy service, people can self-refer too and then you've got sort of voluntary service providers.

So, you've got Mind, you've got Rethink you've got Cruse, you've got Anxiety UK, loads of sorts of voluntary services, which give really good information that people can access right are there many books and many magazines.

JR: Any other websites that you'd particularly recommend?

ME: We see a lot of self-help books these days and, actually, you know what they're all pretty good. Most of them are based on cognitive behaviour therapy. Okay, so pretty much they’re all saying the same thing, but they’re just wrapped up a little bit differently, but they're all really useful.

JR: So just find one that suits you. 

ME: Yeah it could be one that's being written by maybe somebody you like, like a celebrity or perhaps that professional that you actually sort of gel with. Yeah they're a really good sort of.

JR: As a way of wrapping this up, if there was one thing that you could change about the workplace in 2019, is there anything that you've sort of really noticed time and time again that that you’d just love to wave a magic wand and fix?

One tip for improving mental health in the workplace for 2019:

ME: I think having a workplace where people can just talk about how they're feeling, rather than being afraid to open up, so they have the ability they can go to the line managers say ‘you know I'm just struggling and I'm finding things a bit difficult can we a chat about this’. I think that's the biggest thing really.

JR: Brilliant, look this has been fantastic Mike, we really appreciate you giving up your time. Where is the best for people to go, I guess first off to find out more about mental health, and secondly to find out more about the work that you do?

ME: Obviously go to the Mind website, there are loads of free downloads, lots of information leaflets and you'll get further links from there.

Plus, also look out for your local Mind - just go onto our website, type in your local mind and you'll see what resources they've got.

JR: Okay look, superb thank you again, it's been a fascinating conversation.

Thanks again to Mike for his time today.

Look out for the next episode of The People Project, where I'll be joined by a panel of business owners and HR advisors. We talk about their general approach to managing mental health, where responsibilities lie and where to go for advice. If you haven't already done so, please subscribe to get the next episode as soon as it becomes available.

You can find us on Apple podcasts, Spotify and anywhere else you might listen to your podcasts. Please leave us a review; we'd love to know what you think.

You can also find out more about Breathe and gain access to a whole range of resources about building a great company culture by visiting breatheHR.com/blog. Thanks again and I'll see you next time.

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