Can you guess?
Not everyone may be recognisable to you so let me introduce you to each of them. Starting from top left we have Arianna Huffington, founder of the Huffington Post and Thrive Global and the author of the bestselling books The Sleep Revolution and Thrive.
Top middle is Geoff MacDonald, ex-VP of Unilever and a speaker and consultant who has made it his mission to remove the stigma of mental health in the working world.
Top right is Antonio Horta Osario, the Chief Executive of Lloyds Banking Group. He had a burnout several years ago but was able to return to his position at the helm of Lloyds after two leaves of absence.
Bottom left is probably an easy one – Prince Harry.
Bottom right is Neil Laybourn and Jonny Benjamin. Jonny was found sitting on the edge of Waterloo Bridge in 2008 when Neil walked past and asked him if he was ok. This caused Jonny to pause, during which time the police arrived and took him off. They reunited several years later and now visit schools and corporates to raise awareness of mental health.
What do they all have in common?
They are all ambassadors for mental health in one way or another.
What is mental health?
The definition of mental health according to the World Health Organisation:
“Mental health is not just the absence of mental disorder. It is defined as a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.”
In this context, we are mainly referring to stress, anxiety, depression or burnout. Everyone has mental health, and we all will have experienced low or poor mental health at some point in our lives. It might be depression, low self-esteem, anxiety, chronic stress or struggling with an addiction.
The people you see in this picture are ambassadors for good mental health. They are aspirational role models, who inspire honesty and believe that mental health should be treated and talked about in the same way as physical health.
Promoting good mental health
We need more people like them to come forward and be open about how they feel, particularly within the working world.
I heard a wonderful anecdote from a client when she visited the doctor to discuss her depressive symptoms. He asked her if she would allow him to treat her arm if it was broken; she said yes. He then asked her why she wouldn’t let him treat the broken synapses in her brain in the same way – she ended up saying yes.
Our health is our health – it doesn’t matter if you’re symptoms are mental or physical, if it’s affecting your health and happiness, it needs addressing and should be spoken about openly. Interestingly, sometimes issues with mental health manifest themselves as physical symptoms (click here to read my recent blog on this subject), so it can be easy to mistake the two. I discuss this in my bestselling book Rise and Shine.
What can I do?
If you think you’re suffering from poor mental health, tell someone. They don’t need to be an expert or a professional, just share with someone else how you’re feeling. That’s the first step, and then you might then decide you need to see your doctor or another professional to help you. Sometimes just sharing how you feel with someone else can be very empowering.
If you run a company or manage a team, check out the work of the [email protected] community run by Geoff MacDonald and Georgie Mack. Consider whether you’ve created a culture that is open and permissive with regards to mental health, and if not, look around to see who is doing it well and emulate them. Bodyshot offer wellbeing consultancy packages, and we’d love to talk to you. Click here for more information.
What’s your Health IQ?
If you’re reading this, you’re are probably in a reasonably senior position, running your own business or have a busy life running the home and juggling other responsibilities. Either way, you’re busy. The convergent pressures of work and family life have probably meant that the time you did have to spend on health and fitness has disappeared. Why not talk to us and see how we can help.
Leanne Spencer is an entrepreneur, coach, TEDx Speaker, author of Remove the Guesswork, and founder of Bodyshot Performance Limited. Bodyshot is a health and fitness consultancy that helps busy professionals get more energy by removing the guesswork around their health, fitness and nutrition. Visit www.bodyshotperformance.com or email [email protected] to register your interest in our services and connect with us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.