Big or small be mindful of good mental health wellbeing in the workplace

Penny Power OBE is an author, entrepreneur and business owner of Social Power.

Does being mental health aware make for a more inclusive work environment? Penny Power OBE is an author, entrepreneur and business owner who openly admits to having struggled with her own mental health in the workplace – which by no means meant she wasn’t able to do her job.

In this guest feature Penny shares her experience, tips and insights on the illusion of happiness, the importance of self-discovery and lessons learned on her journey to achieving a healthier mindset at work.

I’ve worked for 35 years; 15 in a large company and 20 as a business owner and entrepreneur. Like many start-ups and business owners, I’ve occasionally looked over the hill at employed life and said to myself “life looks so much easier over there.”

I’m very aware though, that so many employees of large companies look over the hill at people like me and think “life looks so much easier over there.”

In fact, what I’ve discovered in recent years through speaking at corporate events and coaching employees in large companies, is that while the grass may look greener on the other side, one of the most important and ‘inclusive’ issues we have in common and should be aware of, is mental health wellbeing in the workplace.

>See also: Is diversity too big an issue for small businesses 

The illusion of happiness

Despite the illusion of wealth, happiness and success that the online world encourages us to display, people often hide their mental and emotional dialogue, where in reality, behind the smiles, they may, in fact, be struggling.

Personal experience has taught me that emotional and mental health has a foundation that’s impacted by triggers and these triggers can be the same, whether employed or not. As an employer, keeping an eye on staff’s behaviour is key for spotting mental health problems; sometimes it can also be of benefit turning the spotlight on yourself.

 

A smile can hide a lot of things, so always make sure to look out for and ask how your employees are doing. Be mindful that some people may worry about starting a conversation about their mental health, so as their employer, you should be the one to ask them.

The importance of self-discovery

For six months I decided to positively surrender myself to self-discovery. Having built two companies and had a modicum of business success, raised three children and tried to be the best person I could be. I had a warning sign that unless I learned new patterns of behaviour I would never achieve the summit of the mountain I set out to climb 20 years ago.

I spent six months researching myself to understand mental health and emotional triggers, the ones that I needed to manage so that I could become a stronger businessperson. I also needed to learn how to protect myself, know my limitations and find a way to see the business world through a clear lens; and through that clarity be able to manage the inevitable obstacles that I would have in the future – and potentially advise others in the workplace too.

I spent six months researching myself to understand mental health and emotional triggers, the ones that I needed to manage so that I could become a stronger businessperson. I also needed to learn how to protect myself, know my limitations and find a way to see the business world through a clear lens; and through that clarity be able to manage the inevitable obstacles that I would have in the future – and potentially advise others in the workplace too.

>See also: Why empathy matters in business

Lessons learned

Let me say this: I’m a torchbearer, shining a light on a path to greater peace of mind; I’m not a mental health expert. In my book ‘Business is Personal’, I emphasise this and want to be your friend, not your mental health coach – someone who just knows how it feels to have the dialogue inside your brain that works against you.

I have, however, learned a lot on my journey to understand how mental health triggers and issues impact us at work. Whether you are an employer, employee, self-employed or planning a shift, however, you interpret them, you’ll likely find my top five discoveries relevant.

  1. Stop comparing yourself with others. Your life is personal to you. Be the leader of the life you want and don’t try to be like others. We now live in a ‘compare and despair’ world, in which we compare the 360-degree knowledge of ourselves with the one dimensional someone else shares online and we despair that we’re not enough. You are enough – your definition of success, ambition and happiness is for you to achieve your way.
  2. Accept that you are normal. Anxious thoughts, low moods and feeling busy are all normal emotions. Once you realise you’re normal, then it’s easier to be exceptional and it’s also easier to identify and support others around us. “Kindness is the new culture” in business. Business Intelligence #BusinessEQ is the greatest shift in business now, so be a leader of this and be kind to yourself and others.
  3. Understand your personal strengths and then watch how you can sometimes ‘overdo’ these strengths. If you’re giving and caring, sometimes you’ll be exploited – know when this is happening. If you’re independent, then sometimes you’ll just have to ask for help. Independence can work for and against you – people like people who need help; vulnerability is the new culture.
  4. Wake with the intention of being happy. A study showed that happiness is made of three things: 50% is your attitude and constitution; 10% is the achievement of the things you want; 40% is whether you feel in control with your life decisions and daily habits. When we’re out of control, when others take control, we lose 40% of our happiness.
  5. Take personal responsibility for your life. No one else can make you happy, successful or help you to achieve your ambitions. They’re all personal to you and up to you to know what happiness, success and ambition means to you and then to go out and fight for it.

>See also: The Equality Act 2010 and reasonable adjustments 

About Penny Power OBE:

Penny started leading conversations in business wellness in 1998 when she founded the world’s first business online community, Ecademy. Ecademy predated LinkedIn by four years and the unique culture created through 650,000 business owners was of friendship in business, helping each other to connect, learn and thrive together.

Penny’s latest book, ‘Business is Personal’ launches in 2019. In the book, Penny discusses the importance of holding onto personal beliefs and definitions of the life you want to lead and live. Penny boldly shares her personal experiences and observations of how people are being sucked into believing they lack, rather than have confidence in their skills, values and dreams. Penny is keen to ensure that business start-ups, self-employed business owners and employed people are guided and supported in a world of communication that not only impacts the mental health of teenagers, but also working adults.