‘How are you?’…’I’m fine.’
Just an everyday throwaway conversational piece which many of us see as somewhat akin to discussing the weather or yesterday’s sport. But according to Mental Health Foundation research, whilst we may comment that we are fine on average twice a day, we only mean it 19% of the time. The rest of the time we either deliberately hide our feelings or simply come up with the easy answer in expectation that the person asking the question wasn’t really interested. Perhaps that’s why when we ask the question, 59% of us expect the answer to be a lie.
The Foundation’s research was carried out in 2016 in advance of mental health awareness week which takes place from the 8th to 14th May 2017. This year’s theme is ‘surviving or thriving’; aiming to both spread public awareness about mental health issues and to build community resilience. The fact is that most of us have experienced some kind of mental health problem at some time in our lives and yet mental health remains one of the taboo subjects, particularly in the workplace.
Depression, panic attacks, stress, anxiety; whatever the cause, whatever the outcome, the chance of being able to move on is greatly enhanced when we can be open about how we feel. So perhaps it’s time for leaders to step up, to encourage discussion and to move mental health away from being a taboo subject and into the mainstream of business life.
Now be honest: how are you really?