Hi everyone, and welcome to my latest mental health business-related article where I’d like to share with you all more insights from my personal experiences of attempting to be as transparent and open, I can be about my mental health challenges in the workplace.

In this article I’d like to look a little deeper at the behavioural effects of the ignorance that exists within all spheres of the business where we work, and how for you as employees it may be impacting on not only your productivity, and profitability, but quite possibly your Life Expectancy.

From the time whence I began working in the Oil & Gas industry in the early 90’s as a teenager, one thing that’s always struck me, I’m sure it has you too for those of you reading, is that of the ignorance witnessed that permeates through every layer of this Industry. Prevalent, at times, even more so should we choose to make contact with those there to help us should be required to do so. Such as our Managers, Senior Management, and Leadership Teams, though this is something many of us who suffer from mental health illness are often too embarrassed and fearful to do.

Having worked in a multitude of roles over the years, for client and contractors alike, one complaint found mentioned time and time again is that of, management, leaderships don’t listen, but have you ever thought is this the case? Or is it possible because of lack of management, leadership and staff training? People you work with and those who manage you may inadvertently appear to be ignorant on their part because experts do not effectively train them in the human behaviour field in how to deal with employee’s requests effectively and efficiently?

‘It’s one thing that I’ve noticed in all my years in the industry that while many like to talk, few truly have and own the skill of being able to listen and communicate effectively.’

At many places where I’ve worked, on the occasions where I’ve faced my fears, it was because of choosing to personally invest in being mentored and coached by Tony J. Selimi, one of the world’s best coaches, educators and speakers that I had the fortune to meet. Each time I approached various management and leadership with a suggestion to bring an expert such as Tony in to help with mental health and wellbeing strategies, I was met with the excuse of “it’s costly to bring outside help.”

Consistently it appeared to me that many companies I worked for preferred short-term gain over long term pain, as many had the idea that they may not even work for the company when the pain of long-term ignorance starts to kick in.

The more comfortable option seemed to be to respond with either a rebuff, fear-based self-justification, excuse, or not respond at all when I proposed that they hire an expert to help. I have seen how Tony’s 30 years of experience changed not only my behaviour but also to the many of his private clients I had the fortune to meet.

The most prominent scenario in my mind, though, came from being involved in a meeting at a previous place of employment. Now before I share a little further about this meeting, which I’m grateful took place and thankful to all those who chose to attend, let me share with you first some content from a consultation I had with my mentor Tony to prepare for this meeting.

As like many of you who may struggle with mental health, I’ve little experience of attending such meetings with Senior Members of Leadership. In truth, it was my first, so upon asking Tony how should I prepare. Tony’s suggested that’s it’s good practice to research the attendees of the meeting, what their roles require them to achieve and learn more about the projects that they may be working as it can then lead to higher levels of engagement, allowing for a flow of dialogue and conversation to take place amongst strangers.

So, following this great advice Tony gave me, I proceeded to ask former colleagues if any had any previous dealings with the attendees of the meeting. The next step was for me to scan through social media to see what could be found useful that might help to break the ice. What my preparation hadn’t accounted for, though was the ignorance that I faced. Even more worryingly, as we were discussing mental health in the meeting, a topic I’m sure we will all agree is of the highest importance, I was not prepared for the grievous personal insults that I was subjected too, all because I’d only tried to prepare, help and share a solution from someone who knows the pain of working and living with mental health problems.

Working with Tony J. Selimi has helped me expand my awareness of people’s motives, behaviours, and intentions exponentially. I have become more present to listen to all what is going on around me in the workplace. The other amazing thing it has also allowed me to do is to look at situations through the eyes and the values of others, even put myself in their place. What was clear as this meeting proceeded, was the behaviour of that of one of the attendees who was clearly showing clear signs of resentment towards myself for improving myself and being able to pay attention to what is said. For during the times when I raised my concerns with regards to where this company was heading in tackling the ever-increasing mental health challenge, that frankly every company today globally is facing, I was consistently met with ignorance by the very same people who were meant to implement a change.

As the meeting got underway and progressed, what became apparent was this attendee had taken what they may have seen as defiance to their authority at a personal level as everything that I mentioned that could be improved was to be met with put-downs, excuses and finally insults. For instance, they once said that they had had several episodes of management being absent in one year, over 50 episodes in truth and that as a business, the business couldn’t have this or afford this.

The truth is, we all know that companies that flourish are those who hire an expert like Tony to help them identify, resolve and implement a long-term result that addresses companywide issues like this. Don’t you agree it makes a sensible solution? Even more so as I know how amazing it feels, how more productive I am from having my physical, emotional and mental absence habit significantly reduced by my regular monthly coaching and mentoring consultations with Tony.

Another of the skills I’ve learned since I began working with him, that I’ve seen him teach to many of his clients, is that of self-reflection. It’s worth millions on its own to be able to self-reflect over our thoughts, language, behaviours, words we use and the actions we take.

Now, after this meeting, I self-reflected, I had to concur that I had spoken way too much. Still, I had listened, but not as much as I could have, something this specific attendee seemed unwilling to do. Some people’s main intention seemed to be to recollect and counter.

Now, if Tony had taught them advanced behavioural techniques as he does with all of his clients, and I have been to listen to their original words of ‘I can’t have this level of absenteeism’ and self-reflect over them. They would have perhaps realised there and then their following comments and specific unprofessional behaviours in the meeting. They would know in themselves that they were not in alignment with their original words spoken; these comments and behaviours included.

1.      I’m not sure that the company should look to be the #1 company in the World when it comes to supporting Employee Mental Health

2.      I can’t afford for or haven’t got the time for making the arrangements needed to take management away from their daily roles to hear from an expert on mental health

3.      Can assure you that the cost of hiring an expert can not be fully claimed as a business expense by the company

4.      The company can only progress with supporting employee mental health as fast as the slowest person within the company can go

5.      Their behaviour was one of merely trying to counter everything that was said that would be of benefit to every employee in the company

6.      Finally taking to the practice of using personal insults, which looked to be emotionally driven by insisting not once but twice that it’s possible to put a price on a human being’s life when it was mentioned that human life is priceless

So, as I sat in my Hotel after this meeting, it came to me that, although they didn’t want these absenteeism rates, because of the personal resentments they may have and those directed at myself, it had blinded their judgement. This resulted in them not being willing to listen or do anything substantial about resolving this either, although they had said they didn’t want the problem.

By taking everything at the personal level, as I’m sure many of us have witnessed with managers, leaders before, we run the risk of lowering productivity, impacting health and safety and create a toxic mental health culture. It seemed to be that through ignorance, some people chose to remain ignorant about problems that need immediate attention. The overall damage to companies’ profits would continue to occur, impacting the lives of every customer, colleague and employee.

Ignorance can be bliss if we choose to see how it can stimulate dialogue, change and ultimately organisational progress.

Well you see, one thing many companies don’t seem to account for when looking into developing employee mental health programmes is how to extract the actions that are needed when we look at the statistics behind suffering with a mental health illness

It’s not just the statistics with regards to improving performance, productivity and profitability for which there is a strong business case for when it comes to hiring of experts, as mental health cost the UK economy £35 billion in 2018 a rise of £9 billion when compared to the £26 billion costs in 2007 https://www.centreformentalhealth.org.uk/news/mental-health-problems-work-cost-uk-economy-ps349bn-last-year-says-centre-mental-health .

It’s also the statistics around suffering from certain mental health illnesses with regards to a sufferers life expectancy which are startling as it is even more lethal for your life expectancy than being a heavy smoker, according to this study by Oxford University psychiatrists http://www.ox.ac.uk/news/2014-05-23-many-mental-illnesses-reduce-life-expectancy-more-heavy-smoking

There is hope, though, why? Well by investing my time, money and energy to work with an expert such as Tony, as this article published by Arianna Huffington shows, perhaps we would all agree that life expectancy can undoubtedly be increased https://community.thriveglobal.com/stories/anyone-can-experience-a-mental-health-problem/

You know, having made approaches to many Government Agencies, Companies, CEO’s, and Top Mental Health Professionals in both the NHS and Private sector, all of whom without fail, on the one hand, say, my personal story is amazing, incredible and inspiring. Still, it continues to bemuse that on the other hand, that they all pass it off with or through ignorance by saying amazing as it is, it’s not evidence-based, which seems now like it’s the easy answer, for something they honestly can’t explain and is beyond their levels of expertise.

Perhaps like me, some of you reading may find this truly disturbing when we look at the rampant rise of mental ill-health around the globe and why at this time more so than ever within the history of humanity, the World is crying out from the depths of its ‘Soul’ for a solution to this costly problem.

Perhaps the moral of this story or article is, don’t let personal resentments blind and stop you from investing all that you have in your personal development. When others take concerns at work with regards to employee mental health to a higher authority, encourage them, listen to them and share with them teachers you have worked with that may be able to help them to.

When people you work with and report to are completely unaware, they are displaying ignorance, because it’s become so normalised for us all, make sure you have your say, even in the macho culture of the Oil and Gas industry I work in. There is plenty of scientific evidence on how ignorance will both in the short and long term undermine the health of every employee within the company while simultaneously undermining the overall organisational health and wellbeing.

The costs of mental health at work are only predicted to grow, even more so when we look to the future, and consider that the next generation of workers, the children and young of today, will be entering the workplaces of tomorrow with an ever-increasing number of mental health illnesses  https://www.nuffieldtrust.org.uk/news-item/striking-increase-in-mental-health-conditions-in-children-and-young-people

So, if you’re a CEO, Business Leader, or in a position of Senior Management, you may want to take action now and hire Tony J. Selimi to help you address leadership, management, and team issues that infect the company culture with the ignorance virus and achieve long term growth, success, and transformation.

You can use his broad skills to help the position of those who are already feeling the wear, tear and stress of being tasked with dealing with the ever-increasing costly mental health workplace crisis that in all likelihood they are entirely unprepared for that your company is not only facing right now but will be for years to come.

Choosing not to take action undermines the lives of not only your employees but also, quite possibly, will threaten the very existence and future of your company. I’ve done my part, all you have to do is check https://tonyselimi.com/and see for yourself what he can do for your company, event audience or for you. To book a consultation all you have to do is to send an e-mail to [email protected] and get ready to embark on a unique transformational journey with this incredible teacher and educator. He is guaranteed to shower your personal life and organisation with clarity, inspiration, love, and wisdom in the same way as he has done for many of his clients and me.  

Paul McMonagle