“We see the worst, because it’s helped us to evolve to pick up on threats and dangers. But it’s not that helpful for life in the 21st century.”
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Show notes for series 2, episode 6
Mental health is an important but often misunderstood area, full of prejudice and technical jargon. How can we look after ourselves better at work and in our personal lives?
Post-pandemic, we take stock on the mental impacts of working from home and isolated environments.
And now we’re facing hybrid working. Can we take control?
Is this the right time to take stock and address any issues we can identify to stay happier?
Protective factors can keep us going but, when they disappear, we can experience problems.
We address all of these issues and more, with special guest Olly Church (The Eleos Partnership).
Security Life Hack from Luis Corrons (Avast)!
Mental health challenges
Olly Church is the co-founder of The Eleos Partnership, an organisation that aims to help managers and other leaders within an organisation to set the conditions for their people to thrive, from a mental health perspective.
They focus on the gap between the ignorance that abounds in many people’s perceptions of mental health issues, and the expertise of the clinicians.
Olly used to work in the military and has personal experience of addressing significant mental challenges. He and Marc sat down to talk about this and more.
Please subscribe and join the discussions. Use one of the ‘Listen On’ links above to subscribe using your favourite podcast platform.
- The effects of the pandemic lockdowns
- Risks when protective factors disappear
- The importance of prevention
- Three essential things to do
- The role of professionalism in mental health
- What sits between ignorance and experts?
- Can you measure mental health?
- Mental health as a key function of leadership
- Self help
- Encourage the good, mitigate the risks
- Security Life Hack
Sign up to our newsletter!
- The Eleos Partnership
- Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England
- Mental Health First Aid International
- Cyber Security DE:CODED website
Simon Edwards 0:01
Welcome to DE:CODED, providing in depth insight into cybersecurity. Post pandemic, we take stock on the mental impacts of working from home and in isolated environments. And now we’re facing hybrid working. Can we take a control? Is this the right time to take stock and address any issues we can identify to stay happier. Protective factors can keep us going. But when they disappear, we can experience problems. We address all of these issues and more with special guests Olly Church from the Eleos Partnership. Shownotes, including any links mentioned in the show are available at DecodedCyber.com. Olly Church is the co-founder of The Eleos Partnership, an organization that aims to help managers and other leaders within an organization to set the conditions for their people to thrive, from a mental health perspective. They focus on the gap between the ignorance that abounds in many people’s perceptions of mental health issues, and the expertise of the clinicians. Olly used to work in the military and has personal experience of addressing significant mental challenges. He and Marc sat down to talk about this and more. Over to Marc and Olly.
Marc Briggs 1:21
when we’re going to be talking about the mental health and our observations in the cybersecurity industry. But really, this is what we’ll be talking about is relevant for a number, a whole cross section of industries where over the last couple of years, people have been forced into working at home or in an isolated environment. And now as the world starts to open up, again, are being reintroduced, to impute to working in the office and perhaps hybrid working. And you add on a really basic level, you might think that I’ll everyone’s like everyone will think Well, yeah, that’s great. It’s it’s back to work as it was. It’s great to see everyone and business as usual. But of course, that’s perhaps not the case for for a lot of people.
Olly Church 2:18
That’s right. That’s right. Absolutely. And I think that, you know, some people had good experiences during the pandemic lockdown working from home, some people had less good experiences. But, you know, I think the point is that they were all unique, weren’t they? They were all individual, you know, because our lives are made up of so many different factors. You know, it’s very hard to apply a sort of a blanket approach to how we do these things. And the reality is, I think that everything, you know, every part of our life has been thrown up in the air, hasn’t it? And the question is, do we just let it settle? And see what happens? Or actually do we try and place these things where we think we want them from both an individual and a professional perspective.
Marc Briggs 3:04
You brought up something really interesting at the slot, when you introduce yourself in some foreigners, who spent all that time in a in the military. And you were exposed to a number of traumatic events, which made us that role at the time, it all sort of built up, I guess, cumulatively to a point where it became too much. And it was hindsight that led you to look back at those events and realize that you probably could have handled them differently rather than just perhaps ignoring them at the time. And I wonder now, whether we’re in the position where individuals are, having experience, their time, their unique individual type through the COVID pandemic, and now opening up into a new way of living, whether this is the right time for people to grasp their own version of where they are in mental health terms. And to take action or not. I mean, a lot of people probably don’t need to do anything.
Olly Church 4:11
So yes, some operational trauma had an impact. But actually, whilst I was in a supportive environment, where I understood what my sense of identity was, what my sense of purpose was, you know, who I was connecting with, you know, good, strong bonds, as he that protected me. But when I left the army, you know, my identity, my sense of connection, my sense of purpose, basically disappeared. So those protective factors, you know, weren’t there and I hadn’t realized that I needed to replace them. And I think that’s, you know, what a lot of people will be experiencing is that, you know, for some people, you know, protective factors were very much in place, you know, pre pandemic, because they enjoy coming into the office socializing, they could connect with their friends. After work, and actually that kept a wrap on many of the risk factors that they might have been carrying, because we all, you know, have protective and risk factors in relation to our mental health, but we don’t necessarily acknowledge them deliberately address them. And so I think what we saw during the pandemic, is that many protective factors were removed, and many risk factors were introduced. And so we we sort of had a bit of a, an imbalance, and that for many people resulted in a bit of a decline in their mental health, you know, to a greater or lesser extent. And so when we come back to, you know, having a think about how we live our lives, ultimately, you know, I think it’s really useful to have a deliberate focus on okay, how do I build in protective factors, you know, is that for me, actually working from home? Because I am quite introverted, and I find the office environment quite over overpowering. Or actually, am I a bit more extroverted and I find that I need that connection with with other humans, or actually, is it somewhere in the middle. And I think having the ability, you know, as a manager, as a leader to have those conversations openly, and understand how we can balance the needs of the organization with, you know, the needs, or the preferences of the individual, I think is really important, you know, this comes back to this idea, a blanket approach is never really going to work. So we’ve seen that already. You know, with the civil service, I think, you know, there’s been great uproar against the diktats that are coming from from various ministers. And I think people will vote from their feet, we’ve been introduced to this concept that we can do things differently. So you know, within reason, with negotiation, and some sort of come give and take on both sides, I think we can we can get to a point. But this stuff doesn’t happen automatically. It does take time, it takes a bit of effort takes some frank conversations, but I think you know, as a society, we probably end up in a better place than probably where we were.
Marc Briggs 6:59
We take that, if we take that, that that strategic game, all the way back down to our office environment. You’ve talked there about having the protective, sort of, quote, around an individual, and we can talk about that in a little while about what a business might be able to do, but as an individual as an individual. And I’m listening to this, I’m gonna Okay, right? Well, Ali says, It’s good that if I can identify what are my, what can I do to protect myself against the risk factors that are associated with me? But do I need to see a professional to identify what those protective factors are? What’s the, what’s the process? Am I what am I meant to be thinking about to actually to actually work out what I can do? individually? Yeah, I
Olly Church 7:57
think it’s an interesting point, you bring up the professional thing. So a lot of this is preventative. And I think if I had known what I know, now, previous to my incidence of poor mental health, I actually would have avoided a lot of it. And for me, a lot of this comes down to the basic fact that as humans, we’ve evolved to have a number of emotional needs something really interesting called human Givens theory, which basically states that we have, you know, nine or so emotional needs, and if they’re not being fulfilled, potentially our mental health is at risk. So the need for connection with other people, the need for a sense, sense of sort of competence and achievement, for a lot of people that will have been impacted by having to work from home and home school, and amongst kids, all these sorts of things. So I think, you know, if we are currently in a good place, from a mental health perspective, I think we can do a number of these things ourselves. And again, that was one of the realizations for me was that actually, in many cases, I am the only person that can do this, you know, having that, you know, that willingness to take responsibility for our mental health is a huge, hugely important first step. But I think, you know, if you want to go and speak to, you know, a coach, a, an emotional counselor, I think that can really, really help for this is, this is danger that we only ever take action when things have got really bad isn’t there. And actually, you know, a bit like maybe sort of couples therapy, there are great opportunities to do this stuff earlier. And I think actually, you know, many younger people are grasping this fact that therapy can be a really good preventative action. And it doesn’t have to be, you know, responsive or reactive. And it’s really just about understanding ourselves better. Understanding how we work, you know, how understanding other people so, you know, how we communicate, how we manage the conflict that may arise between us, so all sorts of different things. But I think, you know, we’ve only got a relatively short amount Have time here, Mark. And mental health is a hugely complex subject, and I wouldn’t profess to understand it completely myself. But if we can encourage people to do anything from this session is to sort of pique that curiosity to think, Ah, okay, maybe there is more that I can do, and maybe investigate other training or sort of self development opportunities, because, you know, self help, it gets a bit of a bad reputation. But you know, from my perspective, my experience, it is it is absolutely vital to protect ourselves from the possibility of, of mental illness.
Marc Briggs 10:35
And if people are thinking, well, I want to do something, I, I want to promote the positive aspects of my mental health and my protection against the negativity, but I don’t want to spend money. And also, the bit, you know, I’m worried about the stigma or the peer pressure that comes with getting therapy, because I think in this in this country, where we’re probably not quite there as a society, in terms of its its wider acceptance. And so an individual might be feeling restricted in their ability to reach out. Yeah. And if I wanted to do something, just for myself, is it the case of just doing more of what I enjoy doing? Or is that a dangerous route? Because I might, I might, like, really enjoy going out for a drink? Which, obviously, to a point that might help but then you take it too far or too often, then you’re just creating a larger problem with it? Could it be as simple as just what do I enjoy? Do more of it? Or should I research a little bit more and do and and I don’t understand the sort of self help techniques that are out there?
Olly Church 11:50
Yeah, I think there’s, you know, to go back a step mark, you know, I think you’re right about societal perspectives and societal sort of, you know, potentially stigma is that we tend when we hear the word mental health to sort of think of it as a threat, don’t we? Whereas actually, I think it’s a massive opportunity to start to understand ourselves better. And it’s, you know, you talk about doing what you enjoy, you know, so you know, going out for a drink, in many ways can be really helpful if we have one or two, because it may encourage us to talk to our friends, where we wouldn’t otherwise. But we know that Alcohol is a depressant, we know that it is a risk factor in developing poor mental health. So again, it’s about balance. That’s a really boring answer. But I think it absolutely is, but also understanding, again, how we’ve evolved understanding that regular exercise is our body’s natural way of removing stress, hormones and chemicals from our system, that sleep is absolutely vital, that actually just the ability to talk to somebody, whether it’s somebody that we’re very close to, or actually maybe even a complete stranger, about what’s going on on our heads is a great way of unleashing a lot of these thoughts from our subconscious mind where we might think about them irrationally and emotionally, and ruminate. Whereas actually, by talking to somebody or simply writing something down, we can, we can process it more rationally, more logically. And actually, it can remove some of the stress around it, we start to see where there are opportunities to take action. And to sort of to go back to your point, you know, what can we do? I think, you know, there’s a lot of good free mental health training out there, which you know, is not particularly, you know, overwhelming or difficult, but it’s just about understanding the basics. So understanding how to balance risk factors and protective factors, understanding how we can make sure that our emotional needs are met. Because, you know, sometimes we’re quite good at developing these things instinctively. And I think I was originally, but I had got to a point where my natural levels of resilience ran out. And, you know, we our ability to be resilient is shaped by all sorts of different things. So you know, our upbringing and the experiences that we might have had as children, you know, what’s happened to us, our religion, our culture, our values, our sexual identity, our gender or age, all of these things will shape our ability to be resilient. And again, you know, the risk factors, maybe discrimination, there may be any kind of exclusion, because all of this is having a, an impact on how we think, feel and behave, which is ultimately how we, you know, consider our mental health. And, you know, I get back to these emotional needs that we have, and the role that our subconscious mind plays. You know, our subconscious mind is always trying to protect us, you know, so actually, that’s the thing that’s telling me oh, actually, I don’t want to go out for a run today because I need to conserve my Energy. That’s how we’ve evolved. But our conscious mind is saying to us, well, actually, I know that it’s going to be good for me, I know it’s going to be a bit, you know, uncomfortable to start with, but longer term, I’ll reap the rewards. So we can have these really conflicted internal conversations with ourselves. And for me, actually, meditation has been really helpful in just to improve that conversation within myself. So that I’m pursuing, you know, slightly healthier habits on a regular basis, I’m pursuing the ability to bring in protective factors and try and, you know, banish some of those risk factors. But there’s plenty of information out there, I think we just need to have this willingness to engage with it. You know, whether that’s in a work setting, or whether, you know, it’s actually just starting to engage in some pre free resources, which are which are out there.
Marc Briggs 15:50
You talk about the work setting, and one of the points you brought up there was talking and how important talking is the way of not only identifying in yourself, what risk factors are bubbling up, but also the protective factors might become more, you might become more aware of them, but also the perspective on things off. And when you overthink things in your mind, they may become more. But you might, as an individual put more priority on them, then perhaps they require in terms of a wider context, you might need a third person to tell you that you’re you’re worrying about things unnecessarily because of that. But in a work environment, where we are here, there’s a managerial hierarchy. And if I’ve got a new starter, they’re in the company, they’ve been in the company for a couple of weeks, are they going to feel confident going into to their line manager who writes their quarterly report or their annual review, about their ability to perform another, they’re going to feel confident in talking to them about these personal mental health issues? Now, I know we should try and create that environment. But there is always that mismatch in terms of hierarchy in a conversation in a company, is there any benefit of training people at all levels of management, to be able to walk and discuss and understand the signs of mental health degradation in order that you can speak to appear about these kinds of things without any worry that it’s going to come back? In? In your, in your, in your records or anything like that?
Olly Church 17:43
Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. And to go back to your first point, are they going to feel comfortable talking to their new manager? In short, probably not. Again, we’re all wanting to maintain a sense of professionalism, we’re all concerned about giving off the wrong impression. We can’t cope, whatever it is, we don’t know stuff. So it comes to this point of what’s termed psychological safety, which, you know, many people will have heard of, if you haven’t come across it, you’ve certainly experienced it as this feeling where we would do feel comfortable to share concerns where we are comfortable being ourselves, that we feel that we have this ability to talk to people about any challenges, not just our mental health, but I think you’re right, you know, ultimately, where there is good psychological safety in teams, you know, largely led by, you know, the management in a creating that environment where people do feel comfortable, it tends to encourage peer support. And so actually, you know, people feel more comfortable talking to each other. And so over the last few years, there’s been a significant rise in the instances of training Mental Health First Aiders, okay, which I think is a great, it’s a great resource to have within an organization. And I and I trained people myself, and I think it is a really good capability. But there’s this danger that what we do is we silo that knowledge and those skills within a few people around the organization, they might even be in HR, and frankly, who wants to go and talk to HR about our mental health. It could be senior leaders, and you know, who feels comfortable that. So I think it’s, you know, two, two points from that if we are going to train things like Mental Health First Aiders, they need to be representative across the organization. So people can connect with somebody that either they know, or maybe they don’t know, but they sort of have a connection with they would feel comfortable talking to them. But I think, you know, actually to go beyond that is more important. You know, I think that actually, it’s really valuable to give as many people in an organization I mean, ideally, everybody, even just a basic bit of knowledge on as you say, noticing signs of poor mental health in themselves or others, but also actually understand and how we can proactively protect our mental health. And I think I mentioned earlier that, you know, resilience really is a team sport, you know, particularly in a professional setting, you know, I may feel resilient, but actually, if the wider team is not encouraging, you know, a relatively open dialogue, and we aren’t able to support each other, then I think that’s always gonna have its limitations. You know, I’m not talking, I’m not saying that we, we have to spend our days, you know, having sort of group therapy sessions, that’s not it at all, it’s just about everybody feeling comfortable. Everybody knowing what is expected from them, feeling that they can, you know, challenge in a constructive way. Because that allows us all to get a little bit closer to meeting all those emotional needs. So yeah, I think there’s there’s definitely a few options there.
Marc Briggs 20:53
That’s quite good at some point them potentially talks about Mental Health First Aid training, and I wonder how widely understood that type of training is in, in in the sector, when we know about it, but it’s something that is only really come across our understanding in the last few years. For us, it was have a First Aider but they’re all cuts and bruises. And it’s, it’s it was, it was never really something that we understood that you could train someone relatively quickly, in Mental Health First Aid, and you’re trying to achieve without going through the training, but you’re trying to achieve the same aim, it’s sort of identify what the problem is, and then on a on a very basic level, and then steer that person towards the right help, in order that they get the treatment they need in the same way that you would if you had a cut, and needed to go to an a&e department. Something like that.
Olly Church 22:02
Yeah, absolutely, absolutely. And, again, it’s about exploring this middle ground between ignorance, which, you know, let’s face it, a lot of society is still out. And I was at until, you know, relatively recently, and expertise of counselors of, you know, therapists, psychiatrist, and an understanding that actually, you know, with the right intention with some of the right basic knowledge, we are almost always going to have a positive impact in relation to people in their mental health. And actually, understanding that, you know, inaction, not to doing anything, is almost always the worst course of action. And that was my experience, you know, I didn’t have the language and the knowledge to be able to articulate that I was starting to experience poor mental health, and neither did anybody around me. And even if they picked up on it, you know, my boss, my colleagues didn’t feel comfortable coming to me and say, Ali, I’ve noticed, you know, a few things, do you think you could benefit from some support? And I may or may not have responded, I don’t know, because, you know, resistance and sort of denial is, is quite common. But actually, I think, you know, my outcome could have been quite different, you know, it could have been a couple of weeks off work slowly, you know, coming back with some with some support. As opposed to actually what happened is that I convinced myself that I had to resign, because I would never, you know, continue my career and never get promoted with a diagnosis like this, and actually led to, you know, a couple of years of, of sort of, actually worsening mental health, and, you know, quite a lot of unemployment. And I think actually, you know, is useful to understand that, you know, significant amount of mental illness within society is what we might call avoidable. has its roots in more social causes, like how we live our lives, how we treat ourselves how we treat each other. Clearly, there are instances of mental illness, which have a very physiological and medical background. So thinking about things like psychosis and bipolar, but actually a lot of this is about, you know, reactions to those emotional needs not being met the risk factors outweighing the protective factors. So, you know, and you know, the more knowledge we have, actually, the lower levels, we can start to shape things more proactively. And this is not about, you know, people overstepping the mark, this is not about, you know, a Mental Health First Aider stepping up and say, right, I’ve diagnosed you with depression, you need to do X, Y and Z. This is about getting them as you would do is a physical First Aider, to that appropriate professional help in a timely manner, so that you could prevent things getting worse and that’s that’s really where the penalty lies.
Marc Briggs 25:00
We’ve worked on our we’ve spoken quite a lot about the individual, but over in a cybersecurity company and as a, as a manager, I, we’re talking generically, we’re not talking about the, the company and what they mean. But if I, if I, if we’re in a position where we have not got strong mental health awareness, we haven’t got the training. And it’s never really a spoken subject up till now. And I’m a manager and I’m getting pressure, external pressure to try and introduce this, this training and this awareness. Do have you experienced in the work that you’ve been doing any resistance from managerial level staff, because there’s a time commitment, there’s financial commitment, and you’re opening up a box, which has never been open before? And it’s kind of like, well, what good is going to come from this is it there’s going to be a raft of challenges that I’m going to have to then deal with as a company, whereas what I’d much prefer to do just carry on the way that we’ve been working and delivering, what the, the, the purpose of the company is, rather than dealing with these issues, is that something that you’ve come across all the you finding that people are coming to you are already forward leaning?
Olly Church 26:33
Well, I mean, there’s all sorts of things to consider here, Mark, first of all, most organizations Well, throughout history have been dealing with the impacts of poor mental health, they just haven’t known about it, you know, so a lot of people going off with stress, as it was always used, euphemistically coined, that’s mental illness, isn’t it? You know, a lot of people going off with seemingly physical health conditions, often masking mental health conditions, you know, low productivity has often been caused by poor mental health. So they’ve been dealing with it, but they just haven’t confronted it. And so, yeah, I think, you know, I do get people come to me who are keen and optimistic and who want to lead in this in this realm. But again, if they’re relatively senior, they will have, you know, middle managers who, frankly, are absolutely critical to getting this to work. If they’re not going to block it, you know, they, we see them broadly broken down into thirds, a third of them will be equally enthusiastic and see the benefits of doing this. We see, you know, another third who, a bit agnostic, they’re not quite sure, it all seems a bit difficult. And then a third who are actively resistant, the sort of things that you were mentioning. And it’s difficult, isn’t it, because a lot of the resistance comes from fear, it comes from, this is all really, really quite scary to me. But instead of actually admitting that, building my knowledge and approaching it with, you know, a degree of enthusiasm, or at least cooperation, I’m just going to resist it, I get to deny it, and hope it all goes away. But it really does. You know, where we see people actively engaging it, there will be, you know, cans of worms open and all those sorts of things. But actually, again, you know, if we, if we plan this properly, if we resource it properly, there’s really only benefits to be had, because what we will find is that psychological safety and proves that people are actually far more likely to achieve what we might call an early intervention. So we hit things off at the pass. And there’s this fear that people will use the mental health cut. And just to get out of stuff, we, you know, a lot of the evidence suggests that that is really quite uncommon, that actually, people value the opportunity to explore these things in a slightly more open way. And I think there is increasing demand from the younger generation coming into the workforce. That makes me sound really old, isn’t it? But you know, there is an expectation that their mental health will be considered and taken seriously. And I think that’s not unreasonable is it? But again, it always has to be balanced with the needs of the individual and the needs of the organization. And that’s where I think just these open conversations can be really helpful. When it
Marc Briggs 29:29
comes down to business and measuring effectiveness. There’s, there’s quite often a high demand within very structured organizations to be able to demonstrate worth and therefore I’m spending x amount of pounds or X amount of dollars. We’re investing this amount of time in this product or this training. What are the Direct outcomes of that, and how do you quantify it? Now, I can qualify a lot of physical things very easily just simply counting. But is there a, is there a simple way? Or is it a lot more complex to really quantify the value that you’re bringing into an organization when you invest in mental health?
Olly Church 30:21
Yeah, in one word, it is complex. Yeah, absolutely. Now, you’re right. Organizations love to measure, don’t they? And it’s understandable. You know, there’s been quite a lot of research by the big consultancies. So I’m thinking sort of Deloitte and PwC, who will put out figures like for every one pound that an organization spends on mental health training, there is an ROI of, you know, five pounds. And I think, you know, they, they clearly have done some, some detailed research on that. And I think those have a degree of rigor those figures. But it can be much harder to actually measure it with an organization. Because it’s really difficult sometimes to measure a negative, isn’t it? You know, something not happening, you know, how do you know what you’ve prevented? I think, you know, whether organizations want to try and extrapolate it against things like absences. I think a lot of this is just far more subtle, isn’t it? It’s about actually feeling people feeling comfortable, you know, do you attribute a rise in productivity or performance to the fact that people actually don’t feel like they’ve got one arm tied behind their backs anymore? You know, a lot of organizations will want to measure it using some kind of mental health app. I think that’s great. But what we tend to see is that is that, you know, those apps get really loading engagement levels, you know, if you’re lucky 20% of an organization will download the app, and then, you know, 20% are probably going to use it regularly. I think that they’re great, I think, you know, got a lot of potential. But typically, they aren’t exposed to sort of mass teacups. So your results are not always going to be that to help from that accurate. And so it’s a really wishy washy answer, but actually, how about this is just the right thing to do? How
Marc Briggs 32:21
slowly, I was gonna say there is a, there is a point where your managerial style turns into a guest more leadership, you go, this is the right thing to do. You need to invest in our staff. And, and investing in them should return us loyalty, it should return, a willingness to deliver and very efficient and effective at their jobs. Because that’s what people humans react to you invest and people want to most people want to pay back. So but but that’s not that’s not an easy sell to a shareholder. I guess, when it when it’s that’s the bottom line that they’re looking at?
Olly Church 33:06
Yeah, absolutely. And, you know, it’s, you’re absolutely right. There’s all sorts of challenges to be faced. But you know, how do you how do you measure culture, and I sort of very much come to the conclusion that understanding the mental health and well being of our team is one of the key functions of leadership, something that, you know, I certainly in the past, whenever mental health was mentioned, I was like, right, this has nothing to do with me, let’s go and speak to the doctor, or the welfare officer, or the Padre, this is somebody else’s business, without realizing that actually, I had a huge impact on the mental health of the people who were working for me as the primary influence on them. But also, I had a lot of things that I could have in my control, at least sphere of influence, that could benefit things. And I think, you know, that’s how we see shifts in culture, isn’t it where people do do things which are difficult, which are a bit scary, you know, we engage in things that actually help people to feel more comfortable. And, you know, actually, you know, if you’re really strong links between mental health and diversity and inclusion, you know, if you’ve got people feeling comfortable to be themselves, you are going to recruit retain a more diverse work force, which we know is, is almost always beneficial for almost every element of an organization. And so people feel that psychological safety of inclusion, because, you know, they know that their mental health is taken seriously and people understand the connections between discrimination and poor mental health, for example, and leaders can set the example.
Marc Briggs 34:47
So, based on everything we’ve spoken about, as long as I find out more, either as an individual or as a manager in an organization, is there anywhere that you could suggest I might want to start looking to point me in the right direction as a as a beginner in this in this field.
Olly Church 35:09
Yeah, so absolutely, I think, you know, if I’m, if I’m a line manager, one of a really good free resource that I would recommend is, is the Mental Health First Aid England line managers results, it gives really good, clinically validated best practice guidance on actually how do I shape things? You know, from my perspective, as a line manager, what can I do? How do I bring the policies and practices, the processes of the organization to life in relation to mental health? If any of my team members are experiencing a decline in it? I think you know, there’s a lot of good charities out there with some some good basic stuff. So mind has a number of really good resources on the body. I’ll
Marc Briggs 35:52
just ask you a question on that. The Mental Health First Aid England, if I listening to this podcast in the States, for example, am I still able to access that material? And is it still relevant to me? Outside of England? Yeah, so
Olly Church 36:07
it’s MH for England is is is, is specific to England, but in the US there is mental health, first aid USA, so a nation who will work with organizations to achieve similar ends? So? Yeah, absolutely. There’s a there’s a sort of sister organization, if you like, over in the US. Absolutely. But but you know, a lot of this comes down to the fact that, yes, there’s some self help out there. But just like any capability, or culture change in an organization, if it’s going to be anything more than a very, very brief tick box, exercise is going to be come any kind of transformative process, we need to put some resourcing behind it. And so, you know, there’s a number of organizations us included, who will sit down and talk to, to businesses about actually, how do they approach this. And, you know, this probably sounds like a really thinly veiled sales pitch. But we realized that actually, this is a team led sport, you know, this has got to be done, you know, with people, by their managers, rather than to them by let’s say, the HR department, if things are ultimately going to change, you know, it’s got to be, it’s got to be organic, hasn’t it, you know, it’s not something that we can do to people it’s got, it’s got to be something that we give them the confidence, the structure, the resources to explore themselves. And little off little and often, I think, is far better than sending somebody away off for a two day course, because we all know, we all know what happens, don’t we, you know, we, we do a two day course, we get a folder. And it’s really interesting at time that the folder goes in a drawer, and we never touch it again. So having the ability to build this in to the flow of work, is really important, I think, and that’s how culture changes. That’s how we get beyond just simple knowledge transfer to setting the culture that enables us to apply that knowledge.
Marc Briggs 38:14
Change happens over time. And, and this is James that people want people want to deliver. At each level of the organization, you’re right, I agree, this isn’t something that can be dictated either from above or below as a as a as a polar entity, because unless everyone takes it up, you aren’t going to shift that culture in the way that you want to shift it, there’s just going to be a bit of conflict and a bit of dissatisfaction that things aren’t happening. There’s some good training resources there that you recommended. And I’m pleased to hear that the Mental Health First MFE, what was it MHFA? England or USA same organization?
Olly Church 39:00
Yeah, they’re really good start points. And as an individual, where,
Marc Briggs 39:04
where should I go? Is it just a question of googling sort of charities, or
Olly Church 39:08
there’s a lot of stuff out there. And, you know, as you’d imagine, it’s sort of varying quality. But I think, you know, again, somewhere like mind is a really good place to start, because some really good resources. And really, this, I think, should be, as I said, it’s about peaking curiosity, understanding that we can influence mental health within organizations within wider society. We actually we can’t leave it to therapists, psychiatrist, the mental health system, because otherwise they become overloaded, don’t they? And that was really the point about mental health. First Aid, starting as a concept is this realisation that we didn’t necessarily need more psychiatrists. Maybe we do, because frankly, they’re overwhelmed, but actually with a little bit of knowledge, you know, across society, then actually We’re far more likely to be in that preventative space, which we know is achievable and important, but it isn’t, I said, it takes that knowledge and that confidence to be able to do it, and it’s not going to happen overnight. It’s got to be something that, you know, as an organization, we build into, you know, a long term plan, I think,
Marc Briggs 40:22
was really useful. I really appreciate your time today, Ali, it’s been really interesting to hear both the mental health challenges that you’ve had and been able to successfully overcome. And I guess it’s just a continual process for everyone. You’ve just got a very dramatic example about Paul is how it’s affected the last few years your life, and I guess everyone’s experience something at some sort of level over the last five years. And it’s, it’s knowing what to do to encourage the good and mitigate those risks, which chip away at your mental health. And the three things that you mentioned during the chat, which I think everyone can target without really investing a huge amount of energy on research or training or, or learning is Get, get sleep, do exercise and talk to people. Wherever it is, it doesn’t matter who you’re talking to, I guess as long as you’re talking to someone about these things to get life into a little bit of perspective for yourself.
Olly Church 41:35
Yeah, and it sounds really basic, doesn’t it? But I think it’s just again, it’s about understanding how our bodies and minds work and that they do respond to those things. And, you know, they can be really good preventative measures of, of that sort of releasing any stress that has built up and making sure that our you know, our brains are functioning as well as they can. And and, as you say, talking to people to externalize those fears that we have, because quite often now either that individual may be able to help us take action against them. Or we realize that actually, we were succumbing to what we might call the negativity bias this, this tendency that we have as humans to see the worst because it’s helped us to stay safe, and help us to evolve and pick up on Threats and Dangers. But it’s not necessarily that helpful for life in the 21st century.
Simon Edwards 42:34
And now, just before we finish its security life hack time. At the end of each episode, we give a special security tip that works for real people in the real world, for work and in personal lives. This episode’s life hacker is one hacker, Luis corones, who knows a thing or two about what can go wrong. If you don’t lock your computer, when you leave it alone with colleagues or with your kids
Luis Corrons 42:57
always lock your computer where you are not using it. I have an anecdote. There is a company security company in Spain, which later on turn out to have a spin off, which is now known as VirusTotal, I guess that many of many people will have will have heard about VirusTotal. So okay, they learn how to love your computer, every time you’re not using it by first let’s say every time someone was leaving their computer are protected, even for like 10 seconds like to grab a glass of water. somewhere, someone in the company was getting into that computer and messing with it. Right away. I changed the background, grading some batch file and put in there. Always always. So every time you visit them, they weren’t to the company yet. Every every computer was locked down whenever the people were scaring them. And it can be a real security problem. If your thing is up, it doesn’t matter. Yes, it does matter. Even if you’re at home and maybe the security risks might be your kid. For me. It’s kind of like it’s memory muscles ready, right? Like when I’m using Windows like, click on the Windows button and then from luck, and that’s it and you’re good luck. I mean, it’s like it’s so easy. Okay, if you’re not used to it. Maybe you need I don’t know, five minutes to get used to it. But you can do it with what have you seen? Yes, a couple of fingers. One click and then your your luck.
Simon Edwards 44:39
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