In her latest blog, Director of Coaching Zoe Lewis discusses the increasing number of people that are mentally fatigued and how providing coaching early can help people gain clarity, focus and objectivity to help them cope with a situation before it becomes a mental health issue.
No, I’m not talking about the pandemic, although that definitely would have been welcomed. I’m talking about the increasing number of people who are mentally fatigued by weathering the Covid19 storm for almost 3 months.
We already know that Mental Health is the most common cause of long-term sickness absence in the UK (source: CIPD & Simply Health Wellbeing Survey). The CIPD state “These facts relate to a world pre-COVID-19; early indications suggest that the pandemic (and measures taken by government to control it such as lockdown and social distancing) will have a significant impact upon the mental health of employees. It is very possible that these mental health implications will be felt for many months and even years. As early as two weeks into lockdown, employees were reporting a range of health effects including negative impacts on mental health and overall well-being.”
In the past 24 hours I’ve had conversations with clients, friends and my social media pals and I’ve heard these concerns:
- “Should I send my kids back to school?” I too have this question!
- “How will I manage now my partner is going back to work and I’m still home schooling and trying to work?”
- “I wish it would just let up – the ongoing pressure seems phenomenal!”
- “I just need a bit of space and time to think clearly…”
As these are snippets from the last 24 hours, I pondered the past 10 weeks or so. I’ve had conversations with clients that have addressed some worries about work and colleagues, leading and decision making - they feel the pressure. We talk about the work ‘stuff’. Interestingly, I find most also, have a ‘before we finish’ conversation. What’s that Zoe? I hear you ask. It’s the conversation they want to have, but feel they should have the ‘work conversation’ first.
Moreover, these conversations are talking deeply about themselves and their concerns; how can they focus, be the person they want to be, not lose their temper with the kids, feel they are holding back on expressing their feelings because “it’s a difficult time” and more.
A stitch in time saves 9.
Our conversations often feel like a stitch in time, a safe space to explore self-leadership, to check in on their own emotions, frustrations, anxieties and to pour them out of their head. These are then easier to explore with a coach, who ask the questions that help you identify how you can move forward. Control what is within your control and manage expectations on other areas.
I’m sad to say that I know someone who raised their early stage concerns with their organisation, they weren’t offered support, the organisation was too busy coping with the pandemic. The individual asked on more than one occasion and nothing was provided to support them. This person is sadly now on long-term sickness leave whilst they work through the harrowing experience.
Why does this matter?
I’m sure my like-minded peers don’t need this pointing out, it helps the leader cope through the challenges. It gives them the safety and space to process their worries and identify steps to take.
It keeps people engaged and motivated, especially when the organisation recognises the importance of looking after talented individuals.
It says a lot about the organisation for the long-term, not just the short-term, people will look back and remember, as Maya Angelou says “People never forget how you made them feel”.
In the example I talked about with the person who is now on long-term sickness absence, there could also be a potential employment law case to answer for the organisation when the individual has recovered.
Disclaimer: Mental Health flags
As I write this post I am mindful that some might look and think “coaching and mental health are different practices” and I want to be clear on my intention here. I’m a huge advocate of counselling and I don’t want to imply that these practices are the same. As the title says, this is a case of prevention is better than cure, so providing coaching early, can help people gain clarity, focus and objectivity to help them cope with a situation before it becomes a mental health issue.
As expert coaches, The Leadership Coaches™, know that there is a line between coaching and mental health practitioners. We have a duty of care to our clients, so if we identified the need was mental health rather than coaching, we would always tell the client, so they can benefit from the right intervention for them.
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