Interview with Mark Brooks, Managing Director at Gemini Training & Consulting Ltd – Mental Wellbeing in the Workplace

Mark has spent his entire career helping people and businesses to improve. As managing director of Gemini Training, he works with businesses to enhance their people including delivering mental health training. His LinkedIn profile can be found here, and more about Gemini Training here.

Mark kindly agreed to share some insights about mental wellbeing in the workplace.

1)      From the training you do, what are some of the key things that companies do or can do to support staff that experience mental health challenges? 

Some of the most common issues facing organisations that Gemini have been working with stem from a ‘fear’; most commonly, it is the fear of talking about mental health at all.

Things have improved tremendously and there have been some incredible initiatives that have successfully raised awareness around mental health, however, there is still a long way to go.

Encouraging staff to talk about mental health is far more than putting on a few events, although a good start. Instead, it is a culture change that takes mental health illness away from the archaic stigma attached to it and brings it up to date, where vulnerability is not seen as a weakness; it is real, authentic and human.

2)      For someone going into the workplace who is worried about how to manage their mental wellbeing, what advice would you give?

Know your own triggers and boundaries. As long as you look after yourself, you can retain an element of control. Also, recognise your strengths and play to these. Whenever you are able to, find roles and responsibilities that don’t take you too far from your comfort zone, if at all. For example, if you are someone who thrives working with other people, don’t take on a role whereby the vast majority of your working time is spent in isolation.

It would also be beneficial to share information about your strengths and limitations with trusted people around you who may be able to assist. It is no longer seen as a weakness to admit you need help; speak up! Most importantly, help is available. Many workplaces now have trained mental health supporting individuals, such as the Mental Health First Aid qualification. These people are well equipped to support and signpost people to whatever additional needs they may have. 

3)      From your training, what are some of the most common issues that people face? What advice would you give to anyone facing them?

For most, the biggest questions are “how do I know if someone I work with is struggling with a mental health illness?”, “what should I look out for?” and “what can I do to help?”. The answers to these are not always simple but there are ways to support. Look out for changes in behaviour, loss of conversation or unusual actions by the individual. Nothing is prescriptive, however there tend to be indicators. If you see something unusual, it is ok to ask if everything is ok. A side by side chat whilst making a drink is a great tool for having such a conversation whilst avoiding making it feel too formal on confrontational. Finally, know what support is available around you – often this is covered in induction or employee packs. Additionally, there are a great deal of support providers, such as MIND (mind.org.uk), Rethink Mental Illness (rethink.org) and Sane (sane.org.uk) that provide advice and guidance to those in need.

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