Does mental health have a place in business?
Mental health awareness has been on the rise this year, supported by the likes of the World Health Organisation with their sponsored day and mental health awareness week, both being in the limelight, not to mention the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry spearheading a new campaign: Heads Together, to end the stigma around mental health.
I know there will be valid arguments and objections from various corners and I can totally understand this, especially where the ability for someone with an unseen injury to perform on par with those around them, is concerned. However, I truly believe that the best possible way to respond, is to suggest understanding of the companies themselves first and those at management level. When you have a full understanding of how it affects people, you are then in a better position to be able to judge how limitations and skill sets are affected or best utilised within each individual, in order to best place your employees for the good and benefit of your business.
I was in the army for some 14 years, where I received the best training in the world, overcame some of the most complicated challenges and faced varying experiences from around the globe, that will enable me deal with any issues which may come my way in the future, however, I have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Now does this then mean that I am un-employable? Does this mean that I unable to fulfil a skilled position? Or, does this even mean that I cannot start and run my own business?
The correct answer to those questions, should be an emphatic "no". Why? Well, I should tell you that I started my own chauffeur company on leaving the army and built its reputation, client base and sales, to become a successful business in its own right. Until I then negotiated a merger with another car company, before selling and making it one of the largest chauffeur companies in Oxfordshire.
Yes I made mistakes, I made it hard for people to relate or understand me and/or my actions at times, after all I was not your typical businessman, I acted differently and did not follow the normal rules of carrying out business. This was not done purposely and at the time I was unaware of the impact of my actions, I honestly thought I was doing nothing wrong. Those who were more patient and understanding, began to see me for the person I was, beneath the confusion, which was PTSD and remain to this day, work associates, colleagues, dare I even say friends in some cases. They learnt how to interact with me, I explained where my skills were and where my understanding of various things lay, outside of that, they took the time to explain things more carefully or in a different way. The point is that we found a way to make it work and just as you need to do with anyone new you meet in social circles and business, you watch, you listen, you learn and you build rapport with an individual, enabling you to conduct business with them.
So, does mental health have a place in business?
Of course it does. We could all go to a psychiatrist, for them to report that we have some kind of mental imbalance or regression due to a situation from our past, a road accident we were in or an incident that we were witness to. This does not then mean we are damaged goods, that we have mental health issues and no longer have the same skills or experiences that we had prior to finding this out. It means we have an "unseen injury", it means we require support, understanding and training in how best to handle the situation and what our limitations might then be, if there are any.