What assets does experience of poor mental health bring?

16 Jun

So one of my leadership heroines Lisa Rodrigues, CEO of a Sussex Mental Health trust is open about her battles with depression. She asked twitter what asset approach could employers in NHS consider about physical and mental health issues rather than managing as deficit?

Well I am going to focus on mental health and think about this in terms of any organisation. Depression and anxiety are hugely common. I am open about having experienced them. The downsides are physical lethargy and pain. I sometimes have stomach pain that is agony due it. Some people get headaches. The really physical symptoms are often the reason people seek help actually. Things like poor concentration, disorganisation and a sense of small things being overwhelming often creep up unnoticed.

The assets as I see them?

1. Empathy and humanity – you don’t have to have been ill to acquire but I have observed that these qualities tend to be higher amongst people who have experienced depression or anxiety.
2. Stamina – to have performed reasonably well when you have the mental equivalent of someone tugging on your sleeve or the sensation of being on top of a roller coaster going on all day or all week builds a special kind of strength of purpose.
3. Ethics – the sense of vulnerability often can extend to a more ethical approach to people who aren’t able to keep themselves safe and a determination to involve yourself in improving their safety
4. Humility – I notice that leaders I admire who have experienced ill health have an ability to value others strengths and views and experiences knowing they are not infallible. Sometimes this can look like issues with self confidence when ill but when well it is brilliant.self-doubt in moderation is healthy I believe.
5. Determination – often a drive to achieve in spite of the black dog can help drive a values based determination to prevail

It’s a short and pretty quick reflection of the value of people with lived experience of mental health. It isn’t scientific. It’s just based on my experiences and the people I admire.


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