54 St James Street is home to a whole network of incredible expertise and creativity. This blog will be the first of a series where we sit down with a tenant and delve into their exceptional knowledge to share with you. To start it off will be 54 tenant Steve Flatt from The Psychological Therapies Unit; the foremost provider of psychology and psychotherapy services in Liverpool and the north west of England.
One in four adults in the UK are likely to have a mental health problem at some stage in their lifetime. And whilst mental health is still a taboo topic, the number of people seeking help for mental health problems has increased indicating that attitudes are slowly but surely changing.
The leading cause of sickness absence in the workplaceis mental health related and a staggering 70 million work days are lost each year due to mental health problems in the UK, costing employers approximately £2.4 billion per year.
Still, there are a number of initiatives that we can take on to positively change the way we look after ourselves and others in the workplace. This begins with normalising discussion by breaking down the culture of silence and fear around mental health – conversations about mental health don’t have to be difficult.
With a wealth of 25 years’ experience in psychotherapy we sat down with Director of The Psychological Therapies Unit, Steve Flatt to find out his three top tips on encouraging good mental health within the workplace;
1) Learning to separate the ‘online’ from the ‘offline’
“We live in an “on-the-go” working environment. This means that many people continue to work answering emails phone calls and texts, as the real desk these days is the front screen of our phones and they go with us everywhere including meals and the bedroom! The trouble with this kind of constant activity is that while we are in touch all the time we also never really relax and have “down time” that provides respite for our brains and bodies. Set a deadline in the evening before going to bed when the phone, tablet or PC is put down, turned off, locked in a cupboard, etc. at least an hour before you plan to sleep to provide an opportunity for your brain and body to reduce its level of arousal and prepare for a good night’s sleep”
2) Achieving mindfulness through exercise
“A key suggestion is that each and every one of us undertakes at least 20 minutes of exercise twice a week that raises heart rate, stretches our muscles, lungs and chest. Relaxing our minds and bodies in activities (hobbies, meditation, yoga, relaxation, etc) that enable us to focus in the moment rather than thinking about what happened previously or what will happen in the future is also beneficial for good psychological health. This attention to the “here & now” is good for us, as attention in the moment helps to reduce anxiety and other psychological conflicts. Mindfulness, as it is called, provides respite from the constant planning and anticipating that we struggle with daily by providing moments of calm and peace. These activities can all be enhanced by learning to notice our breathing and keeping our breathing slow and deep rather than fast and shallow.”
3) Focussing on what we ‘want’ as opposed to what we ‘don’t want’
“Consistently thinking about what is wanted in our lives rather than struggling with “what is not wanted” is also a good activity. Human beings, like all other creatures on the planet, are threatminded. We focus on problems – this is not very helpful. Focusing upon what we would have if our work, social and leisure lives are more successful would be developmental and take us in the direction we want to go. Believe it or not, success does not lie in solving problems but visualising success and what we want – often we discover the problem disappears when we change the focus of our attention.”
“Finally you could sign up to one of our courses that help you to develop a whole new way of engaging with the world by looking through the lens of Solution Focus Practice (SFP). SFP is a worldwide activity used by millions of coaches, teachers, health professionals, business professionals and just about anyone, to enhance their performance, skills and abilites in their everyday activities.
Don’t be problem focused - be solution focused.”
So there you have it – three tips of excellence from the expert himself and something we can all think about embedding into our daily attitudes in the workplace.