Mental Health in Business

Date: 25/05/2021
Author: Mellie Elezi
Company: Therapy with Mellie

Mellie Elezi, a BACP registered psychotherapist, counsellor and a mentor in mental health, talks about mental health in business. 

I am incredibly passionate about my practice, working with business professionals to make positive, impactful differences to peoples’ lives. In this blog, I use my experience, training, and research to help you identify ways to take care of your mental health in business.

Business Investments That Matter in 2021

Healthy minds equal healthy business!  When it comes to sensible investments that pay dividends, taking proactive steps to safeguard and promote your mental health is a great investment for your business.  Particularly when we consider the impact of the pandemic, as business leaders and professionals seek to turn a profit and attend to employee wellbeing in an increasingly stressful global environment. 

2020 and 2021 have been challenging years, where we’ve not always had control over the forces and choices that impact business.  Sadly, many people have lost lives, loved ones, jobs, connections, social interactions and freedoms.  That’s had an impact on our mental health.  Latest research indicates a significant increase in PTSD as a result of the Pandemic.  There’s no doubt about it, Covid-19 has impacted the mental wellbeing and mental health of so many of us, including business professionals and leaders

The Crunch Point of Mental Health in Business 

Let’s talk about mental health in business. Owning a business brings many rewards. As a highly performing individual who’s successful in your role, you exude professionalism. You dress right, stay fit and demonstrate a resilient and proactive exterior. Yet, for many at the top of their game, there is something missing. That can come as a niggle, or an anxiety that there is something that doesn’t fit. Knowing you are a strong professional, effective salesperson who is worth people’s time and trust can feel at odds with the anxiety, pressure, stress, isolation, and loneliness that so often comes as part of the business package of leading others. 

Why Anxiety, Isolation and Loneliness in Business?

Building your business is a process, that takes time and effort and involves hurdles of various shapes and sizes.   Overcoming these builds resilience and flexibility, as well as a memory bank of success to draw upon as you face the next challenge. And, yes, there is always the next challenge, the next step of “unknowing”. This process involves pressure and that’s where anxiety starts. The reality is when our lives become busy our mind is occupied in multitasking. Which means we neglect our needs because wither we don’t have time or are busy with other responsibilities. Business leaders may neglect self-care, yet its crucial they take steps to look after their own mental wellbeing. The cost of avoiding investing in self-care isolation and loneliness. Disconnecting from hobbies and friends may seem a sensible short-term loss in order to pursue business success but it takes a long-term toll. Other business leaders candidly report the fear of being judged, fear of the future, fear of failure and fear of being exposed to questions about income if they foster and maintain friendships. You may well be a professional or business leader who doesn’t get to benefit from that feeling of being understood and heard when you acknowledge your own fears about your future in business. 

Personal Barriers That Prevent Professionals Asking for Help 

We are all individuals, with differing levels of personal development. That can stem from our past experiences and upbringing. The three steps to seeking help are acknowledgment, acceptance and proactive movement towards finding the right professional. Of course, like any business challenge, its likely you’ll face barriers on the way.  Consider which of these barriers might apply to you when it comes to self-care and looking after your mental wellbeing in business.

 

  1. Stigma. We’ve come a long way at challenging the stigma around mental health in this country.  Yet, many professionals still report fear of being judged if they disclose any mental wellbeing struggles.  For example, it’s easy to tell a friend you’ve got a dentist appointment.  But less straightforward to say you have your psychotherapy appointment.  You may fear the follow up concerns and questions of: “are you ok?” You may think your friend will judge you and conclude something is not right with you.  You may fear them disclosing this to others over office chat or gossip.  It is for this reason that confidentiality is such a central component of professional psychotherapy.  Whilst we await parity between mental health and physical health in this country, you can be assured your therapist will not judge you or gossip.  Rather, they’ll offer you the acceptance, compassionate and discreet and confidential approach you deserve. 

 

  1. Acceptance – Easier said that done!  We can be so resistant to acknowledging the fact that we need help when we do.  Denial tries to protect us from the pain of vulnerability.  Yet, in the long term, avoiding acceptance keeps us stuck. 

 

  1. Investment – Moving towards accessing therapy to support your mental wellbeing in business involves an investment of time, energy, emotion and money. Too many people procrastinate and avoid making that investment.  They turn to therapy at crisis point.  Considering therapy as an investment in your mental wellbeing can help you to move towards psychological support before you hit rock bottom.

 

  1. Finding the Right Professional - Trusting and finding a therapist that’s a good fit and connection for you can be hard. You have a good business instinct, and you will have a good sense of whether you feel you can work with a therapist or not.  Just like with any investment:  do your homework – are they qualified, insured, registered with an ethical body, GDPR compliant and ICO registered.  Have others benefitted from their services. 

 

  1. Prioritising your mental health – we all have mental health. Mental health difficulties are common in the business world, and can be seen as a workplace hazard that results from the stress and pressure of leadership.  Investing in your mental health and wellbeing is vital way to prioritize your greatest asset, your own health.  Mental wellbeing impacts physical wellbeing, with hair loss, dry skin, sweating, chest pain and being some of the many physical side effects of poor mental health. When your mental health is in the red zone, you are more likely to make poor decisions, including impaired business decisions.  You are more likely to self-medicate to manage the stress, and that can lead to addiction.  Accessing therapy and prioritising your mental health is an essential investment for wellbeing.

So, as a qualified and experienced therapist, I strongly encourage you to be open and honest with yourself about your well-being and quality of life. A therapist is someone who understands your trauma and supports you to overcome your hardships. I believe everybody should have therapy at least once in a lifetime to benefit as we navigate the hurdles of life.