I have an ideal picture of a what a high performing team might look like in my head. Everyone's mental health and wellbeing would be flourishing; everyone would work closely together to contribute to a shared purpose; the team would be made up of passionate and talented individuals who care and support each other.
For a moment I imagined high performance sports teams as living this ideal, but we know this isn’t always the case.
Mental illness is insidious at times and it can be hard for the individual themselves to see what’s going on and the extent to which its affecting them. The flow-on effect is that even our nearest and dearest can't see there is a serious problem. My question is “can we all do better?”.
How do we create environments where people feel safe to talk about their mental health and not deliberately hide that they're struggling?
Can we push past structures, policies and ‘this is how we do it’ mentality to make flexible working practices more easy for people's individual needs?
Quite often you will find it’s your high performers that are struggling (think sport), who tend to push themselves too hard for too long. Sometimes mental illness comes with a whole lot of talent, creativity, and resilience as a result of constantly trying to find balance with work, life and their vunerabilities. Just because they look all good, doesn’t mean they always are.
Solutions - what do I think is important?
Lastly, mental illness is everyone’s business – except when no one wants to make it your business. People won’t share with you until you make it safe for them to do so. Role-model, be transparent, show you care about people’s wellbeing and your own.
I hope one day for inclusive work cultures where if you mention you have a mental health issue, it’s seen as normal as saying you’re left-handed and need a different scissor!
I never got my scissors.