How do you treat mental health issues in the workplace?

How do you treat mental health issues in the workplace?

It is clear that there is currently an epidemic of mental health issues in the workplace… A Vhi Health Insights Report on mental health in the corporate workplace published in June 2018 found that fewer than one in five employees in corporate Ireland are extremely satisfied with their lives. More than one in five is extremely or very stressed and there is a sense that pressures have increased in recent years. Almost one in three reports more stress than two years ago. As well as stress, other conditions common in the workplace include anxiety, panic attacks, depression or inappropriate angry outbursts.

I have wondered about the reasons for this recent rise and current epidemic and think that it’s a result of a number of factors… Despite people becoming more aware than they were, say thirty years ago, of the concept of work-life-balance, people are finding it harder and harder to actually achieve one! The relentless flow of modern communication, whether to the email inbox on your desktop or laptop or whether to your mobile phone, means that people rarely switch off, and the lines between the working day and home life are becoming more and more blurred. People often find themselves reading and answering work emails long after the working day is over. A recent study of email behaviours in the US* found that 55% of workers check their emails after 11:00pm, a massive 81% of workers checked their work emails at the weekend, 59% whilst on holiday and 6% even checked their work emails whilst their spouse was in labour! I’m sure you will agree that these are quite shocking statistics and from my experience, it is not much different in Ireland.

As these behaviours become habitual, the organisations that employ people simply expect their workers to be at their beck and call 24/7. I myself spent over 30 years in the corporate world and in my personal experience these expectations are at their worst in international companies who often ask employees to join conference calls with offices in times zones hours apart… The West Coast of America or Japan, for instance, at unsocial hours… And on top of and in addition to their normal working day. So, workers are squeezed. Squeezed by always-on technology and squeezed by the relentless demands of the corporate sector, which, although just starting to put some focus on the mental health of its people, is not always known for its compassion… And because people are squeezed by their work-life, they have less time for their home-life and as a result feel squeezed there too.

You probably know how hard it is for working people to find time for their families and loved ones… Think of the young mothers who every day drop their toddlers off to the crèche at 7:00am and only pick them up again at 7:00pm, or the father who, when his 5-year-old daughter was asked to draw a picture of her family, found that he had been left out of it, because he was never there… He was always at work.

These situations can cause feelings of desperation, guilt, anger and sadness and can lead to serious mental health conditions such as panic attacks and depression.

In order to help people in these situations we have found that it takes a combination of coaching and hypnotherapy. This is called “Hypno-Coaching”. In these one-to-one hypno-coaching sessions the coaching element is about helping workers to cope with and push back on the demands placed upon them. Helping them to use the right language and techniques to manage difficult co-workers, bosses or clients or to manage difficult conversations and situations. They are also designed to help people relieve the day-to-day pressure they are put under through a combination of short-term practical tips and tricks and longer-term strategies.

In hypno-coaching, the coaching element is combined with clinical hypnotherapy. This might be unusual in the workplace, but more progressive companies are starting to embrace it as they begin to see the remarkable, positive changes that hypnotherapy can achieve in their people. As with all clinical hypnotherapy, in hypno-coaching we are accessing the subconscious mind, enabling us to embed the suggestions we make during the coaching element of the sessions more deeply, but more importantly, allowing us to treat the underlying causes of negative feelings such as anger, anxiety, lack of confidence or lack of self-value that could have their roots as far back as childhood situations and events.

We know that corporate organisations like to see results. So, when we complete a hypno-coaching programme, which is generally four to six 90-minute sessions, we provide the organisation with a detailed report that shows how the individual subject has progressed, whilst respecting their privacy. So, no private information is disclosed in the report, however, with the subject’s consent, we are able to include information gathered using hypnotic techniques that indicates the subject’s happiness, stress levels, anxiety levels, levels of self-confidence, levels of self-value etc. and how the needle has moved since the initial consultation session with them. This, along with the often clearly evident changes in an individual’s demeanour and outlook, prove the effectiveness of the programme.

If you are an employee and thinking about introducing the idea of hypno-coaching into your workplace or if you are an employer who’s interested in a progressive move such as this, remember that the benefits of a happier, healthier workforce are tangible… Happier, healthier people are more productive. They take fewer sick days, and they are more settled and tend to move from job to job less often. Anyone in HR or involved with recruitment will know that replacing good people is always a headache, always costly, both in terms of recruitment costs and training costs, and even with the most rigorous recruitment process, it can be the luck of the draw whether the incoming person works out.

In the light of all of this, an investment in hypno-coaching to help keep your existing people happy and healthy can seem like a very good deal!

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