It's OK to Not be OK... reflections

Recently HumanCapient Consulting Sdn Bhd conducted a talk on "It's OK to Not be OK". We understood the fact that there are already a significant number of people who have some form of mental health issue and the pandemic in many ways exacerbate the condition. In fact even more people are starting to have these issues. The conclusion that we wanted to make then was that it's ok, you are not the only one, and it's ok to not be ok. Let's have a conversation about it.

Soon after this session, I stumbled on to this article about how to talk to your employer/ manager about your mental health issues to manage expectations and also to have a more transparent relationship rather than add this on to your anxiety about having to manage time and performance without having the stigma latched on to you. This article popped up in my radar at a most opportune time as - now that we know its ok to not be ok, what can we practically do in organisations to help.

My take away...

For the person experiencing some issues that are impacting your mental health:

a) Be up front, and explain the conditions or triggers that may impact you and your mental health. Be also open about what are some of the things that you would need to do to come back to being OK - it could be time, it could be space, it could be support. Let your manager know. Unless what you are facing a debilitating situation and you are unable to continue for long durations e.g. weeks or months, assure also your manager that those time out will not impact your deliverables and you will commit to the time that is required to get things done.

b) If you need to take time out to have counselling sessions, let your manager know, so that there is some awareness to work around it.

c) If there is still some concern in opening up to your manager, find another channel that you could inform - it could be HR or another support group in your organisation. Psychological safety is also key in sharing these information.

For the manager.

Trusting and allowing can sometimes be difficult because you yourself could be struggling. It's difficult to open up sometimes because you want to make sure that your team is not shaken and are confident about how things are because YOU are confident. But its a two way street. There are times when your team need to know that indeed your are human and not superman. You bleed when you are cut and you get anxious when the client is hounding you.

I have a team member who experience high levels of anxiety especially when things comes on to her plate unplanned or she needs to make a "surprise" presentation. She had been open about it from the start. What we had done as a team is having tools like Trello help us look at least a week ahead, with clear identification of who is in charge and when it needs to be ready, and the project has an annual plan with clear objectives and deadlines. It really helps also that she knows we are supportive of her and she is willing to double up on anything that her team members need in return as an acknowledgement that she appreciates their understanding when she needs to be down. In fact it has helped her move to become really valuable team player which is helping her feel very appreciated.

Mental health should not be a show stopper to achieving your ambitions and having a great career. There needs to be acceptance from both ends, the person facing it and the organisation that has employed this person. Not everyone has mental illness but we certainly don't want to be the source that causes it or makes it worse. Take our masks off, dump that mental health taboo and have a productive conversation that can benefit both employee and employer. Here's to better understanding and appreciation of people.

#humancapientconsulting #mentalhealth #worklifebalance #peoplemanagement