Chances are you’re a little taken-a-back by the title.
You may even be thinking, surely awareness raising needs to be the number 1 thing mental health professionals (and pretty much everyone in the whole entire world) should be doing?
& while I understand, I disagree – wholeheartedly.
Raising awareness is great, but just because you know about something, it doesn’t mean you can change it, fix it or in the case of mental illness positively affect anyone’s outcomes.
Awareness enables people who didn’t know their struggles were actually something a little deeper, something clinical and something that they don’t need to be ashamed of.
But awareness is not a solution.
In fact, I personally believe over the past few years the constant focus on mental health awareness and ‘stigma-reducing’ activities has done more harm than good.
(& yes, I know, I can expect your hate mail in the post…)
Here’s the thing.
The only thing that we should be raising awareness of when it comes to mental illness is successful treatment options.
& just in case you’re wondering – there are plenty.
You probably don’t know this because no-one is talking about them.
We all know the stats about the 3 most common methods of treatment; counselling, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and medication (aka., they all work about 33% of the time), are only helpful short-term and in the words of prominent psychologist, Oliver James, ‘not fit for purpose’ (PsychCentral, 2016).
Many well-meaning organisations hold yearly ‘mental health’ days, weeks & even months… where well-meaning ‘case studies’ talk about their battles, their trials and their move to a place where they’re OK, but know they need to be careful because a relapse is always lurking around the corner.
You may even invite speakers, trainers and organisations in who help you recognise the different symptoms and how to categorise your employee's problems.
And if you’re really on the ball, chances are you also invite in a few individuals promoting things like mindfulness, yoga and essential oils (which are all awesome for helping improve mental health by the way).
But what no-one seems to be doing, and should, is focusing 100% of their efforts on supporting those who are struggling to seek help.
All the research into wellbeing days, weeks and months prove that the only people who ‘get involved’ are the people who are already conscious of maintaining a good level of mental health.
In fact, there was a huge study conducted into the ROI of wellbeing events or programmes and concluded that unlike the commonly peddled 6-1 ROI it's actually 0 (find out more about the groundbreaking research study in our blog post: https://www.woodlandpsychologicalservices.com/blog/business-the-truth-about-employee-wellness-programmes)
Yup, that £4,000+ you spend on the lavish speakers, trainers and week of activities is not going to magically turn into £96,000 of increased productivity, motivation or profitability.
Well, because the people who are struggling with mental illness are not engaging with your programmes.
& in all likelihood, because of the way in which mental illness works (e.g., pessimism, paranoia and social withdrawal) they may very well think that you’re all ganging up on them…
Mental illness is a minefield.
Having a mental health awareness campaign as a budgeted item is the same as walking into said minefield with a blindfold on.
You and I both know this is only ever going to end up messy!
Even the Mental Health Foundation is so confused by the fact we’ve got more awareness now than ever, yet the recovery statistics have not improved…
So what can you do?
Educate your employees so that they understand when they feel sad, lonely, depressed, anxious, paranoid, angry… it’s OK.
Then help them understand what they can do to help themselves feel better.
You can’t force anyone to change by having an awareness event.
But you absolutely can guide, coach and support someone who is struggling with mental illness to make choices that will help themselves.
Trust me, this really is the only way.
If you’re now sat there thinking something like ‘well, that’s all well and good but where the heck do I start?’
You might want to consider joining me for my upcoming live session called ‘The HR Directors Guide To Managing Mental Health at Work’.
In this session, I share with you things like:
& much, much, much more…
Use the link below to find out more:
Have a fab rest of your day & I’ll catch up with you again tomorrow when we’re back talking all things parenting.
x Katie x