Pre-empting mental health issues in the workplace – Part 3

“What we want to do is prevent this happening. What you don’t want is to go in mop up people who have fallen over, because unfortunately some of those people won’t get up again. What is important is to jump on things when you see them”

The 3rd of 3 episodes, talking with special guest Marc Caulfield, CEO & Co-Founder of Demolish the Wall, TEDx Speaker, Role Model 2020 InsideOut Leaderboard & Ambassador at The Youth Group.


Part 3 of #TruthsayersNeurocast with Marc, talking about the tidal wave of stress that’s about to impact the workplace, post lockdown.  In this part of the conversation Marc talks about the importance for business leaders to pre-empt mental health issues in the workplace and take action early.

After 28 years in advertising and struggling with his own mental health, Marc decided to make creating healthy workplaces his mission in work. Demolish the Wall was born to help organisations create environments and cultures which look after their people’s mental well-being, where everybody’s voice can be heard and they can reach their full potential.

#StressAssess #stressawarenessmonth2021 #neurotech #mentalhealth

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Cheryl Stapleton: I’m Cheryl Stapleton from Truthsayers

Marc Caulfield: I’m Marc Caulfield, I’m CEO of Demolish the Wall. We are a mental health consultancy business that specialise in normalising mental health conversations and mental health in the workplace.

CS: As you say, as an organisation gets bigger, it’s very easy to lose the little people, a sense of who your people are within the organisation and that’s what Stress Assess, as a tool, enables you to do, to get quickly in touch with everyone within your organisation. Where surveys aren’t really enabling you to get that truth; people have so many reasons why they won’t reveal what they really feel, because of all those anxieties around is this going to affect my job? Is this going to affect my promotion? What do they want me to say? and you start to condition what you are saying.

MC: That’s the beauty of it really, isn’t it? In so far as it gets to the nub. If you ask someone a question and you give them a load of time to answer it, you can guarantee their answer isn’t right, because you start going, “Should I say that? Should I say this? Is it really anonymous? Will they know who’s done it? Will they recognise my handwriting? Will they see it’s my laptop that I used? And all these things that aren’t really answering the question. I think it’s just about, organisations need to let people know, let people understand that, “the reason we’re doing this is to be better. We’re not doing it to point the finger at someone, or get rid of someone, or to tear a department apart. We’re doing it because we want to be better.” And that’s a really important message to get across.

I think the whole stress thing is interesting. I talk about, there’s sort of a path to mental ill health, and if you look at that path, there are certain areas where a business can really make an impact. If you start with pressure – pressure is a good thing, right? We all need a bit of pressure. You and I probably felt better pressure before we started this! Nothing wrong with that. It helps people perform.

Where that goes unchecked and it’s fairly relentless and you don’t have the support or the training that you should have, this can quickly move to this stress level and this is a big area where business can make a huge difference – by putting the right resources in place; by saying no to client; by charging the right amount of money, so you can employ the right number of people; by actually having the balls to go back to a client sometimes and going “No, actually you’re behaving badly. You can’t do that.” Lots of people are not very good at doing that.

The point is, that that’s when you get into this stress level. This is where organisations can make a big difference. If you don’t address the stress then, what you’ll find is – and this is my case – you start to move into this whole anxiety area, where you start to really worry about things that you could do six months before perfectly well; you start to second guess yourself; you start to self-doubt. You start to go, “Actually, I’m not sure I can do this anymore.”

Organisations can step in before that happens – if they can see the data; if they can see the truth.

CS: Yes, absolutely, that’s key. And it’s getting in there before the big wave hits, rather than firefighting.

MC: Absolutely. Yes. There’s far too much – far too much – reactive work being done and I feel that’s what Truthsayers can do with Stress Assess – with in fact all of the stuff that you guys do – is get in before. What we want to do is prevent this happening. What you don’t want is to go in mop up people who have fallen over, because unfortunately some of those people won’t get up again. What is important is to jump on things when you see them you and if you’re using something like Stress Assess, that gets you to the truth, you’ve got to act. There’s no point in doing it if you go, “Oh that’s not very nice. Anyway, never mind!” You’ve got to act, but it gives you the chance to stop it before it starts.

CS: And it might reveal some uncomfortable truths

MC: Well, it will do. I’ve got a client at the moment: I’ve been talking to the MD, and the HR Director, who we are about to start a fairly deep piece of work with them and yeah, they’re a bit nervous, but they’re also excited because they go, “you know what? We’re leaders – we’re proper leaders – we’ll accept that we’re not perfect and we want to make it better.”

I think, you know, there’s a really good opportunity here to show a little bit of modesty and being a bit humble, and going, “You know what, I might be the MD of this or the CEO of that, but I’m not perfect. And this is going to help me be better – going to help all of us do better.”

You know, fundamentally, people want to build careers in good businesses. People don’t like change. People don’t want to change jobs every two or three years. It’s very unusual for a human to actually want that change. What they want is to feel they can grow somewhere, they can move up, and they can progress and they know what they’re doing, purpose and all of these sort of good things. Work-life balance is important. Working from home is probably not gonna go away. They’ve got to start respecting that you’re asking people to do things possibly above and beyond in their homes and I think that’s a really important thing.


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