By Helena Lass – Psychiatrist specialising in Mental Wellness, and founder of Wellness Orbit.
For companies of the 21 st century, the mental strength and peak performance of its people are increasingly the main strategic objectives. This demands a new kind of leadership that values intra-personal skills and considers well-being as a foundation for active participation.
Historically the focus on mental health topics has been placed upon disorders and the cure. The majority of methods in psychology have been developed as forms of intervention for a therapy setting and not as a proactive education. When you consider that one in every four people on the planet faces some kind of mental health problem, it is alarming that the importance of personal and social strategies for mental wellness have been so massively overlooked for so long.
According to the Towers Watson Survey, 2013, the number one workplace health problem in the US today is stress. In Europe, the Pan-European study by Matrix, 2014 showed that the workplace-related costs of depression are at a staggering €617 billion per year. In Australia, workplace stress cost the economy $14.81 billion dollars, with 3.2 days per worker lost each year due to stress-related absences, according to the 2008 Medibank report, ‘The Cost of Workplace Stress in Australia’.
Marc Dillon’s article in CoFounder 09/2017 entitled, ‘Stress Test’, raised the very real question of how to effectively deal with stress and how to get the best results from the organization that you lead.
A Fundamental New Approach Is Needed
Before we discuss solutions, let us look at the difference in needs between construction workers and modern start-up entrepreneurs. Construction work is labor-intense, and comes with its own set of potential health hazards and requires specific know-how in order to sustain peak physical health. Due to the nature of deskwork, we can assume
that the proportions of demand placed upon employees are approximately 10% physical and 90% mental. With this is mind, employees who do such mental work are rarely offered skills on how to protect themselves properly. What is the use of an employee with a healthy body, but is mentally unable to contribute?
Good mental wellness equals intrapersonal skills
Fatigue, boredom, lack of engagement, absentism, and presentism, are all symptoms of internal mental malfunctioning that can manifest themselves as stress, burnout and depression. All of which can affect team relationship dynamics, individual mental wellness and could mean a loss in revenue for your company. Both entrepreneurs and employees would greatly benefit from being provided proper tools that enable them to sustain performance at the highest level; this seems an obvious win-win situation.
Traditionally the common understanding of the “mind” has been generalised and is too vague. We need to have a more structured approach to the way we understand our minds and separate its distinct functions. When we study our internal domain we find that our minds have three main separate internal functions: awareness and intellect,
mental and cognition, feelings and emotions. Learning to lead all three and their sub-processes can be seen as intrapersonal skills. The term intrapersonal, ‘intra’ meaning inside, separates our inner functions and processes from the physiological functions of the body. Learning intrapersonal skills opens up other skills; much like learning to
read; when we learn to read, many other skills and competencies can be developed as a result. In that sense, intrapersonal skills form the foundation of any successful career, yet are lacking in workplaces, startup environments and the wider business world.
Awareness forms the cornerstone of intrapersonal skills, enabling us to overcome the limitations of passive mindfulness and meditation practices. Intrapersonal skills based on awareness can lay a solid foundation for professional excellence and business success. By learning, training and directing intrapersonal skills, a vast amount of inner potential will open up, ultimately advancing our human capacity leading us towards better mental wellness. Only when we have internal wellness, can we solve external problems, be creative and take initiative as is expected in the modern startup world.
Technology Leading the Way
A global proactive approach to promoting sustained inner wellness is still very much in its infancy. Insufficient education on intra-personal skills is one of the main factors that amplify and trigger mental health problems – such as, stress, burnout, depression, and anxiety. When we come face to face with such problems our talent and potential
often go unexpressed.
Because awareness based intrapersonal skills and mental wellness aren’t taught in schools, a lack of know how in handling our internal processes is prevalent. The concept of providing intra-personal skills via an e-learning platform on a global scale has come to fruition to compensate for this shortfall in skills gap. Both, young startups and established businesses, need to effective re-educate people on how people function as humans.
People are finding their work is becoming more and more emotionally and mentally demanding. It is therefore imperative that start-ups and companies make up where state education institutions have failed by providing skills for staff to be more engaged, autonomous and proactive, and protective measures against mental health hazards.
The Future is Well
Early proactive intervention in the form of structured inner education increases the quality of life and decreases the chances of stress, burnout, depression, anxiety etc., all of which have become epidemic in their proportions and have serious consequences on individuals, and companies alike. Studies have also shown that investing in employee mental wellness has a high ROI.
Let’s be honest, being part of a start-up is actually more stressful than working in an established company. The risk of mental health-related problems are even bigger; therefore benefits of reducing risks and improving mental wellness in this sense matter more than ever.
Wellness Orbit is an e-learning platform dedicated to intra-personal skills development and
mental wellness. You are welcome to do a stress test of your own for free at:
Photo by Krõõt Tarkmeel