By David Michaels and Joe Pampena

The issue of emotional well-being in the workplace is getting more and more attention, and rightly so.  Employers need to think about how to deal with this issue.  Many of us today struggle with choice and making tough decisions.  We often get stuck or too comfortable (in current state) and unable to move forward.  This can create anxiety, stress, and depression. This article is about two important work-related items: coaching and mental health.

What Is Coaching?

Coaching helps create an awareness that gives the client information required to move from a current to a desired future state. It is an opportunity to focus on a goal(s) whether personal, professional, and/or business, through the exploration of ideas.

Do I Really Require a Coach?

While we can all benefit from outside assistance, it’s a bit more complex. Each individual is unique and a routine issue for one, may be quite complex for another.

Individuals may be divided into two groups – those unaware of what coaching is and the benefits it can offer and those who may have some knowledge of what coaching offers, but truly believe they can better resolve the issue on their own.

But a majority of people who try to work through issues/problems on their own may very likely not realize the full potential of what could have been accomplished with professional assistance.  On the other hand those who did not understand or know what professional assistance has to offer, frequently have a big “uh-huh” moment and generally state “Where were you when I needed help?”

Coaching Yields Results

People who leverage coaching following any training have seen a significant increase in the effectiveness of that training.  Reports have shown that training increases effectiveness by 28% and training followed by coaching, increases effectiveness by 88%.

Coaching Enhances Learning

Coaching can be done in one-on-one meetings, typically one hour each week over a 3-4 month period.  For businesses or group coaching this will vary on the objectives of the organization. The focus of the sessions will be on individual or business goals set by the client.

The process focuses on the client’s goals (personal, professional or business), helping them accelerate their movement towards the goal(s), reinforcing learning and change, and increasing self-empowerment. Once goal-attainment is met, often the client will engage the coach every so often to attain new goals, increase their skills to self-coach, and increase their skill in having coaching conversations with others. The tangible benefits of Coaching are setting and fulfilling goal(s) which continues to build confidence and self-esteem.  The intangible benefits are generally improved behaviour, productivity/performance and increased confidence and self-esteem.

What Is Mental Health?

The World Health Organization says that “Mental health is a state of well-being in which the 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 own community.”

Mental health problems include mild to severe depression, anxiety, panic attacks, mood disorders, and more serious conditions like psychosis and schizophrenia.  Life events, stresses and the relationship among genetics, brain chemistry and environment all play a role in how we feel.

How Common Are Mental Health Problems?

One in five Canadians will experience a mental illness in their lifetime. Each day 500,000 Canadians are absent from work for mental health issues, which account for nearly 30% of disability claims and 70% of all disability costs.  Most mental health problems in the workplace occur in people who are in their prime working years.

In the workplace, mental health issues commonly affect performance whether or not they are the result of what’s going on at work, at home, or for other, unknown reasons. No one is immune from mental health problems in the same way that no one is immune from physical health issues.  One of the biggest differences with mental health is simply that relatively so few get help; awareness is lacking and stigma is still a big issue.

Where Do People Go For Help?

Relatively few Canadians who need mental health services get help. It is generally accepted that between 20% to 1/3 of those who need mental health services in Canada actually receive them.  As above regarding coaching, many people prefer to deal with mental health issues on their own and don’t realize that there is help out there and that treatment for mental health conditions shows impressive outcomes.

A lot of mental health services are provided in the private health sector.  If a person sees a psychologist privately, they have to pay out-of-pocket and/or through private (often employer sponsored) insurance.

Senior managers and Human Resources departments must educate themselves about helping employees above the neck – coaching and mental health care are good places to start the education process.

Joe Pampena is the CEO of C4C Coaching-4-Change

David Michaels is the CEO at The Clinic For Emotional Wellness Inc