Mental Health Awareness Week – Resilience and Leadership

Mental Health Awareness Week 2021

This week is ‘Mental Health Awareness Week’ and while we shouldn’t really need an event to raise awareness of the stigma that exists around mental health issues, it is equally important to address the issues surrounding mental health.

People struggle with their mental health for a variety of reasons. Employees and managers need to look after their colleagues and their own mental health as much as possible.

The CIPD People Managers’ Guide to Mental Health (In collaboration with MIND) is an excellent resource that sets out good practices and guidelines to help managers understand and overcome the challenges of mental health problems in the workplace.

Mental Toughness and Resilience

There are key leadership skills that can help you and your team be more resilient to the challenges we face and develop mental toughness. The term ‘Mental Toughness’ conjures up images of the stiff upper lip, to just ‘get on with it’ and to not show any weakness.

However, this is not the case; resilience and mental toughness are skills that can be learned through pragmatic training of the mind. By looking after your well-being, managing stress, understanding your emotional reactions, and challenging your beliefs, you can develop the strategies required to face challenges and be more resilient to what life and work can throw at you.

To be mentally tough, you must have some degree of resilience, but not all resilient individuals are necessarily mentally tough.

There are many ways that you can improve your mental resilience. The 4Cs model of mental toughness is a widely used model for defining and measuring mental toughness. It comprises four components: confidence, control, commitment and challenge.

However, getting the basics right is also essential, such as eating and sleeping well, exercising regularly, managing stress, meditation, self care and problem solving (when possible).

Below is a video from one of our 20Twenty team, mental toughness and performance coach Andy MCcann, who has coached world class sports performers and military personnel.

Andy McCann at the 20Twenty Business Growth Programme

We’ve compiled a reading list on mental resilience and mindset suggested by some of our 20Twenty Team members to help you develop these skills further:

1.  The Chimp Paradox: The Mind Management, Prof Steve Peters

2.  Developing Mental Toughness: Improving Performance Wellbeing and Positive Behaviour in Others, Peter Clough and Doug Strycharczyk

3.  Emotional Resilience – How To Safeguard Your Mental Health, Dr Harry Barry

4.  What Businesses Can Learn from Sport Psychology: Ten Lessons for Peak Professional Performance, Martin Turner and Jamie Barker

It’s OK not to be OK

Finally, it’s not as simple as people are either mentally tough or not. Having to deal with or live with mental health challenges or mental illness can build your resilience and strategies to cope. 

Whether you’re a leader or not, it may be that you’re struggling to cope. If you’re not OK then reach out to a line manager or colleague and try and explain your situation, most organisations have systems in place to support mental health issues.

There’s also a range of support out there and people you can speak to. The first step really is reaching out to get help. If you can’t do this in work, it can be anyone you feel comfortable confiding in. Remember that many people suffer from mental illness and mental health affects everyone at some point.

It's ok to not be ok!

Useful Links:

CMI – Lone Working: The Dangers, and the tools for coping

CMI – Mental Health and Well-Being Resources – Take control of your and your team’s wellbeing

The CIPD People Managers’ Guide to Mental Health