Why are mental health issues still a dirty little secret?

We see this all too often when we begin coaching an executive or senior manager – we have a few sessions, start building trust and making quick progress and then… the confessions start flying out.

At last, they have someone independent, that they can trust and is in their corner. That’s when the floodgates open and the truth pours out.

What’s amazing is how repetitive these confessions can be. We all feel so isolated by the secrets we harbour, yet they’re not unique and there is one confession, in particular, we felt necessary to bring to the light this week.

“I don’t think I can hold it together anymore. I’m struggling with my mental health”.

Only last week, we lost two amazingly successful people in Tony Bourdain and Kate Spade. Like Robin Williams, we saw them as role models in their industries and never imagined they could feel so desperate as to take their own lives.

So many people we work with have had personal experience of mental health issues – either themselves or through someone close to them. Yet often their Tactician is the first person at work that they’ve ever been brave enough to tell.

Why is mental health still a taboo when it’s something that’s so common? 

Let’s be clear, this problem is not isolated to senior management. We’re finding it throughout all levels. But we do know that even the strongest, most successful people aren’t immune. In fact, often they’re the most likely to suffer as they feel the need to hold it all together for everyone else.

The way the modern world is evolving, the incidence of mental health issues can only increase as we take on more.  We need to be able to talk about this stuff more openly

Whether as a leader, a colleague or a peer, YOU need to be gutsy enough to start this change. Here are TACTICIAN’s tips to help:

  1. Work on building professional intimacy within your team – this kind of trust and respect makes people much more able to confidently confide in you. And if you know people well, you’re more likely to know when something isn’t right.  Giving someone the right opportunity to talk, or some time out when they need it, could just be the break they need.
  2. If someone is having mental health problems, be part of the team that helps them heal, just like you would if someone had a physical health issue. Learn about their condition, ask them what they need from you, be flexible and work with them to make their recovery easier, not harder.
  3. Stop judging people. It’s others’ judgement that people suffering are fearing the most. Just because someone has a mental health issue doesn’t make them a lesser person – in fact, it makes them bloody gutsy. The things you do every day so easily (get up, go to work, chat with people, cook dinner…) are so much harder for them. But they still do it. Until they can’t. And when they can’t, they deserve your support and kindness for pushing themselves so damn hard they broke.

Unfortunately, the odds mean that you or someone you love will be in their shoes one day. This secret must come out. Are you gutsy enough to help this change?

Don’t forget about these support options:

Lifeline 13 11 14

Beyond Blue 1300 224 636

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