What has to change to make the change?

It’s World Mental Health Day and the stigma of a widespread and growing issue in the work environment still requires attention to bring such a huge drain on business to the fore.

It wasn’t that long ago when the first adverts around mental health in business were aired, and the response was overwhelming. Many people came forward as a result to seek help. I should know – I was one of them.

As a successful art director for many years in marketing, I kept my crippling OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) a guarded secret, although anyone trained in mental health awareness would have spotted it a mile off – the incessant facial ticks and rearranging items on any surface I could see, were just a couple of subtle signs.

It came to a head one day when I was leaving a client meeting and stood at the door turning the light switch on and off 8 times because I thought my family would die if I didn’t do it.

We didn’t win that account.

I still have OCD thoughts today, the difference being I don’t pay attention to them. My own journey of discovery took me to an understanding of how we create our world through thought and how this is a very convincing illusion, but an illusion nonetheless.

My CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) had kept my thinking in check to a degree, but it was a huge mental drain to control my thoughts, and I was really struggling. The side effects of believing my thoughts were real and requiring supervision resulted in depression, anxiety and anger – but these dissipated once I could see how I was creating the illusion myself and there was essentially nothing to control in the first place. Seeing that my thinking wasn’t real to begin with, was such a huge relief and it took way less effort.

The power of thought, brought to life by consciousness, making my reality from moment to moment and ‘supposedly’ telling me the truth… which was all a giant hoax. I was being seduced by my own consciousness into believing this as ‘the truth’.

Once I had an understanding that this wasn’t real, I could still have the thoughts – you’re never going to stop them and good luck controlling them – but I was able to see them as coming through me and not being the reality I had previously thought.

That was a big moment – when I saw the truth of this for the first time – I don’t have to believe my thinking. What a relief.

Six years later and I’ve made it my mission to bring mental health in the workplace into public awareness and address the issues connected with this – the symptoms of the cause – turnover and attrition, long-term sickness, poor performance, lack of confidence, overwhelm and much more.

The loss in terms of working capacity and bottom line cash is immense but the human loss is even  more devastating:

Key trends from the Samaritans Suicide Statistics Report 2017:

  • There were 6,639 suicides in the UK and Republic of Ireland.
  • The highest suicide rate in the UK was for men aged 40–44.
  • Rates have increased in the UK (by 3.8%), England (by 2%), Wales (61.8%) and Northern Ireland (18.5%) since 2014 – however increases in Wales and Northern Ireland may be explained by inconsistencies in the processes for recording suicides in these countries.
  • In England and the UK, female suicide rates are at their highest in a decade.

What has to change to make a change to these shocking statistics, when the NHS is bursting at the seams and there are not enough mental health professionals to go around.

The good news is that I am not a mental health professional. I have no psychiatric training. I am not even a counsellor. And yet I have helped clients with seemingly intractable conditions to gain freedom from their own thinking by understanding the illusion of thought.

I am at a listening post in Upton Upon Severn in the White Lion Hotel (http://www.whitelionhotel.biz/) this morning until midday and again in Malvern this afternoon after 2.30pm at Gallery 36 (http://www.gallery36malvern.co.uk/) until 5pm. You can drop in, message me 07714 853294 or connect on social media. #Listeningpost #WMHAD