What do we really do?

It is important to explain in real terms what actually forms most of the work that is done without the spin and the clever marketing words we (ok, I) switch off from reading.

So here goes.

Mental Health Training UK & Global
Formal accredited training courses are either the Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England adult courses (2-day Mental Health First Aider, 1-day Champion 1/2 day Aware, 3-year Refresher ), the SFA USI (Suicide First Aid Understanding Suicide Intervention) 1-day.

More commonly now, bespoke courses which are usually 2-3 hours to 2-3 days, and aimed at executive or senior leadership, and line manager or HR populations, but not necessarily. These bespoke courses are highly practical workshops covering real conversations and only the key practical content.

Outside of the UK, working globally with teams across Asia Pacific, Africa, the Americas, and Europe and the Middle East, means that the MHFA England course is not appropriate to many client groups who want to train multinational groups together with varied cultural frames of reference. For these groups we run two programmes;

1.
A 10-12 hour course focused on the cultural differences around mental health globally; looking at both the WHO and "Western" understanding of mental health, and also a more local anthrolpological understanding of health and mental health. We debate these, considering their impact on people and communities, stigma and discrimination, cultural norms, and then look at a methodology of being proactive, noticing, listening, and offering appropriate protection set in a frame of ethics derived from the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

2.
A 6 hour course for people to practically support other people with what they really need to know. Similar to the longer course but with less content around the "Western" diagnostic framework, and more time on supporting people with their lived experiences utilising practical tools and understanding of local context, again working with a methodology of being proactive, noticing, listening, and offering appropriate protection.

There are also several special topic webinars run regularly with employee groups including but not limited to:

 

  • Mental Health for Children and Adolescents

  • Managing Feelings of Guilt

  • Small Daily Checks

  • Psychological Safety

  • Better Sleep

  • In the Moment

  • Return to the Office

  • Being Kind to Self

  • Understanding and managing stress

  • Understanding and managing depression

  • Understanding and managing anxiety

  • Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

  • Trauma

  • The Role of the Mental Health First Aider


Whilst this is "training" it is not approached or delivered with a training mindset, why, because there's no point in turning up and just giving content and exercises because people will often go away and forget, especially if they're not in the right place for it. We learn best through doing, through stories and sharing. We've all sat through our careers in such sessions and have remembered very little. Money and time not well spent, but there is a whole industry set up to deliver just this. The approach taken here is more focus group crossed with facilitation crossed with training. Which means asking the difficult questions like "this is great, but.." and asking for real comments about what needs to change; often it's not the big things.
 
Sessions can be quite emotional and we don't shy away from that. Much of mental health work comes with deep emotion and potentially historic trauma, it's not your average workplace activity or topic of conversation so can not and should not be treated in the same way. It takes great skill, understanding and awareness to create a safe space and then to take care of the group and its individuals as they explore their needs and experiences with each other. And then to leave safely and motivated.

There is a place for e-learning or online learning and that is often just for content and there is some rubbish out there sorry to say. We have some e-learning available based on the workshops mentioned in the Resources section. However mental health is about being human with each other and is therefore by definition relational between people. Getting people in a room together, or remotely, is more costly and time consuming but it works. It can also be uncomfortable, and change never happened by being comfortable. Sorry.
 
Support
Another important thing is to actually provide ongoing support to these people, whether they've been made more aware or received a form of accredited "qualification". Mental health first aid is not like physical first aid where you might be applying a plaster or cold water to a scold and walking away, it is much deeper and people can dwell on what was said and what happened. Providing regular catch up sessions, meetings or access to support through a good EAP or equivalent is important. We do this too. Not the EAP, the more direct stuff. 
 
We commonly run monthly or quarterly sessions for mental health first aid populations to share their experiences, gain additional tools and techniques, to learn from each other, or to get some coaching or counselling around their role. This is something that should be compulsory for all MHFA populations in our view.
 
Consulting
Such a meaningless word. And I was a Firm based consultant for a while so I have a more direct understanding of how it can be done badly. In this work we tend to talk around a whole heap of things to help manage the confusion about workplace mental health, of which there is a great deal. Where to start and what do other people do are often the first questions asked. There is no clear roadmap and no-one has it right yet either, even if they say they do and have nice pictures. Just know what problem you're trying to solve and we will go from there. Tools are easy to provide at low cost, helping you to understand what you want to change and helping you to do it is the important bit.

Coaching
"Therapeutic, Executive, Counselling.."
Other potentially awkward words. Coaches come in many different forms, backgrounds and training. All I can say is find one that works for you. It's a relationship built on mutual trust and mutual care. Coaching is coaching and therapy is therapy and counselling is counselling. Or so you'll be told or might believe. The reality is that the skills are often similar, the differentiation comes from what you agree to talk about and how you will focus on it. We typically look at you being ok in the now, albeit with a history and a context  and what this might mean to you going forwards. In all regards though you need to be safe, supported and not judged. We can look at things through so many different lenses which have their histories in therapy and/or sports performance. Look up Transactional Analysis, Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT), Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT) Gestalt, Constellations, GROW, Lego Serious Play, to name a handful.
 
In this context we do a great deal of coaching and counselling work, either individually, or more often with groups. With groups these can be part learning, part coaching, and part counselling. As a group we will contract together for how these sessions will flow. 

Psychometrics
If you like psychometrics then we can do Hogan, which is really pretty good. It is predictive of the things people think are good about you, how you might react under pressure, and even explores your motivations and values. It is used by many major organisations and head hunters so that will tell you something, not sure what, but it will.

Clients
Naturally all this can be adapted to work with all groups and all businesses; however there are some we have worked more with and therefore the relationship starts with a shared context, although just because it's a known industry it doesn't mean it's a given that you're the same, a mistake so often made.

From a workplace mental health perspective industries and sectors worked with include Pharmaceutical, FMCG, Finance and Banking, Consultancy, Insurance, Charity, Hospice and Healthcare, Grants, and Automotive. From a coaching perspective these are principally senior business leaders with European and/or global roles, through the organisation to team leaders and executive assistants. Industries and sectors include Insurance, Banking, PR, Police, Health & Fitness, Pharmaceutical, and Fashion Retail.