Keepin the Heid — men, mental health an wark
The mind can be oor greatest freen or oor maist fearsome enemy.
Scottish men can be guid chanters an poets — but oor dour machismo means the same lyricism that can be brocht tae bear fir romancin, or fir gien folk inventive pelters, disnae aye extend tae spraffin aboot the sair fecht o depression.
It kills us — there were 728 registered suicides in Scotland in 2016 an the rate for men was mair nor twa and a half times that for women.
Men are less likely than women tae talk aboot their feelins an ask for help. This is shan by the fact that oot o aa the hunners o men the killed theirsels atween 2002 an 2012, 72% o them hadnae been in touch wi a doctor tae ask for help the year afore they deid.
But whit can we dae aboot it? Cos haudin oor wheesht’s no an option.
Mental Health an Wark
The focus o World Mental Health day this year’s mental health in the warkplace.
A report fae Lord Stevenson an Mind showed that ane in ilk six UK warkers suffer fae mental health problems.
An the typical tips governments gie employers for supportin staff are worthy — spraffin tae yer manager, askin for help, daein mindfulness, takin breaks an so on.
But for me they treat the symptoms rather than the cause — an let employers aff the hook.
Woeful warkplace culture either worsens existin mental health problems or maks new anes — that’s ma view efter warkin at hame an abroad for organisations that answer tae the UK an Scottish Governments.
Ah’m still recoverin fae a recent experience warkin in a Non-Departmental Public Body (or Quango) here that’s a national regulator — so it enforces legal standards on how warkers in a certain sector should behave.
But its dearth o internal standards led tae me gettin coonsellin cos Ah was clinically stressed an depressed, an it had ma marriage on a shoogly peg tae.
Neither accoontable tae the Scottish folk nor tae the Government in Holyrood, quangos are hermetically-sealed boxes where dystopian dysfunctionality gets free skowf.
Some o the lowlights fae ma stint included: dodgy recruitment fuelled by favouritism and cronyism; a manager wha wouldnae use the word ‘integrity’ cos they didnae ‘know whit it means’; an widespread bullyin fae management exposed in a staff survey done by the union.
A senior HR employee wha shouted in a ma pus during an official meetin wi ma manager efter Ah’d been signed aff wi stress.
The same HR person heids the organisation’s healthy warking lives team — ye couldnae mak it up.
When values become wallpaper ye’re supposed tae tear them doon — but when they’re shite-paper it gies ye the boak.
The big pictur
Management often dismiss culture as airy-fairy an secretly dinnae ken or care aboot the difference between a boss an a leader.
But pair culture an leadership stress millions o employees — an that causes health problems that are lethal. It’s a huge, hidden public health risk.
Ane in ilk five UK employees have resigned over a terrible boss an 82% have experienced bad leadership — but when ye’ve got bills tae pay and nae alternative wark, ye can be stuck spendin maist o yer wakin hours in a situation that maks ye sick.
It disnae mak sense for the bottom line either — absenteeism costs the economy billions each year. But when folk turn up tae wark in body but no in mind, it’s dearer yet — the cost o presenteeism is twice that o absenteeism.
But shitey cultures persist cos folk prefer power an control over effectiveness an efficiency — they’ll let the ship sink raither nor losin their turn at the tiller.
Whit employers should dae
Employers cannae pay lip service tae mental health — the HSE is noo mair likely tae investigate employers that dinnae comply wi responsibilities.
An firms might buck up once there’s mair coort cases won by warkers they’ve neglected an abused.
Government can mak leadership trainin mandatory for aw public sector managers an mak emotional intelligence the main criterion for promotion.
Warkplaces need 360 degree feedback for aw staff an the behaviours that support organisational values nailed ontae performance management systems.
An values arenae aspirational but define the only acceptable wey tae behave. So folk that continually dinghy them should get their jotters — whether they’re a mail room junior or CEO.
We want tae be an independent nation that can haud it’s heid high, so Holyrood needs tae start sortin the wheat fae the chaff in local authority an quango management.
They operate wi impunity noo, but must be genuinely held tae account.
Whit we should dae
Scottish men should reach oot tae each other and talk, laugh an greet aboot how shite, braw an completely bamboozlin life is — in warkplaces, pubs, sports clubs an barber shops. There’s strength in shared sorrows as well as victories.
We should drop the macho act an talk tae partners, parents an bairns aboot mental health an tell them if we’re strugglin. We should talk tae oor doctors an demand help.
We should challenge bad behaviour at wark, record it an report it tae authorities.
So whether ye’re a pal or parent, warker or manager, behave wi compassion as ye go aboot yer business — ye dinnae ken whit the folk ye interact wi might be dealin wi.
Keepin the collective heid means we’ve got tae open oor lugs an een as well as oor mooths — an develop the strong airms an warm hairts that convince us that, despite its chaos, pain an confusion, life’s worth livin efter aw.
· Call Samaritans on 116 123 or Breathing Space on 0800 83 85 87 tae chat when ye’re feelin doon.