Posted tagged ‘mental health’

Mentally coming out

January 12, 2012

Last night I found myself writing a blog post ready for today on facilitation techniques, which will now probably go up early next week.  However, as I got on with it, I started to listen to a simply brilliant programme on the BBC in the background, in which cricketer Freddie Flintoff spent some time talking to other sporting greats of recent years (and Vinnie Jones) about depression and mental health.

As it wound on I had to leave the relative safety of the keyboard and sit on the sofa as I found myself captivated by it all.  On screen were icons and heroes; people I had read about in the papers for years and who seemingly had the world at their feet – Flintoff, Hatton, Harmison and more – yet all found themselves suffering from mental health issues.  These issues had been hidden at the time they surfaced, covered up with reports of injuries or simply shoved firmly into the background when the white line on the side of the pitch was crossed.  However, all of these people eventually accepted they had an issue and began to find ways of dealing with it.

Mental health is something we have covered on this blog before, and I urge you to take a quick diversion to read a piece from last year which  detailed one officer’s angle on their own mental health struggles.  But have things changed since then?  Have we all come to understand mental health and appreciate the impact it has in the workplace and things we can all do to help others?

In my experience, not yet.  Cultural change on this level will take a long time to bear fruit, but now is a more than opportune time to think about how local government deals with mental health issues affecting its staff, and whether we really are on the road to better places organisationally. (more…)

Being Mindful

July 19, 2011

It's not always easySome of our own posts and our guest posts are a little lighter hearted in nature, dealing with ridiculous dress codes, badly judged e-mails or ways you can identify when you’ve been in local government too long.  We love sharing them too, so if you’ve got something you want to say then e-mail it to us at welovelocalgovernent@gmail.com

However, we are not shy of addressing some more serious issues affecting the lives of local government officers, and today’s guest post does just that.  We hope you read it and understand a little more about the issues it discusses by the end than you might have at the beginning.

Cost.  That has become a bit of a dirty word in the office these days: how much money something costs, how much time it costs, how much energy it costs to get things done.

These costs are generally speaking organisational, and are usually relatively straightforward to quantify.  However, a major area of cost which never finds its way onto any balance sheets is the cost to people, and even when certain costs are accounted for there is one glaring omission – the cost to ones mental health.

Mental health is something so often misunderstood, even by those who mean well.  Some feel they are understanding people, who will do all they can to support someone through their mental health battles with the idea that it can be beaten and overcome, put in the past and moved on from.

Others take the opposite tack, trying to treat them as they would anyone else and not making a big issue out of it in the hope that distraction with other ‘more important and urgent’ issues will put mental health firmly in its place at the bottom of any priority list.

For those of us in local government these are incredibly stressful and difficult times.  Even the most stoic and mentally healthy person can find themselves wobbling at the moment; tempers fraying, long silences growing, work and relationships suffering as the constant and increasing pressures and responsibilities are placed upon them.

For those of us who were fighting mental health problems even during the ‘good old days’ of local government, things can be a fair bit harder. (more…)