At Douglas OHI, the conversation on mental wellbeing continues during the month of Movember.
I was prompted to think along the following lines after a discussion at the most recent senior management team meeting where the subject of mental health and wellbeing was raised, it was noted that some of our senior managers are sporting fine moustaches.
“How are you? “ is one of the most common questions asked on a daily basis, so much so that, for me, it is almost rhetorical.
I wonder what I would do if I got something different to the usual response which is “I`m fine”.
What would I do if someone actually said “well now you mention it, I have a list of problems as long as my arm and I don`t know what to do, in fact I am struggling to cope…”
I guess for some of us that response would provoke something akin to panic inside, many of us would much prefer the “I`m fine thanks” and keep walking or getting on with our work.
The ethos behind the “How are You?” campaign we ran, was to encourage the discussions that go beyond “I`m Fine” without being intrusive or overstepping cultural boundaries. Our message was and is, It`s OK not to be OK.
Many of our projects, quite rightly, celebrate safety milestones such as 5, 10, or even 70 million manhours without a Lost Time Injury and why not?
At the time of writing this I have been alive for 21,262 days, which equates to 510,288 million manhours (do the maths) and in that time I have learnt the benefits of having strong social networks, the support of work colleagues (many of whom have become friends), and a culture where open and frank discussions are able to take place.
This often means making time to have those (for some) slightly awkward conversations with colleagues who may be struggling with work and other personal issues, especially in these challenging times.
We can`t solve all problems but we can offer empathy and the time to lend an ear. That may make all the difference.