From education to employment

Call for teachers to use modelling behaviour

A mental health expert (@SheilaMcMahon) is urging teachers to model the behaviour that they use with pupils in their own lives when it comes to dealing with negative developments.

The call from counsellor Sheila McMahon comes after a survey revealed 40% of education industry workers wouldn’t talk to their employer about experiencing a health issue – and poor mental health was cited amongst the most common conditions.

The main reasons given for hiding health issues ranged from not feeling confident to discuss them with employers, to concerns over the impact of disclosure on careers and workplace relationships.

“You can be ok with not being ok all of the time” – Sheila McMahon

Sheila said: “Last Friday I delivered three training workshops at SEMH School Midlands Conference, and I had some teachers on the course say that when they had recently received bad news, they had put the news to one side so that they could be on top form for their pupils.

“But when I asked them, if a pupil had some bad news, would you expect them to put that to the side and be on top form? And they said ‘no’.

“So, you can be OK with not being OK. We need to take the pressure off and the expectation to be ‘on form’ all the time and then model this behaviour too.”

Creating an “open culture” is integral to addressing workplace stigma

Sheila, who counsels in Midlands schools and was also honoured to be a guest speakers at October’s Sandwell Headteachers Conference, added: “A key factor in whether workers feel they need to hide a mental health issue from employer, or not, depends on the workplace culture that’s been created.

“Some organisations do have an open culture – I know this for a fact as some use my services to help their employees when they are struggling.

“But I think that in some cases the stigma still continues on and in these situations, I feel there are no winners. If we feel we can’t ask for support, then it can make a person feel worse.

“Having an open culture of ‘Being ok with not being ok’ will take the pressure off to be happy or on form all the time. After all, we are humans not robots!!”

If you’d like to know more Sheila will be delivering two online workshops on Anxiety Awareness on Friday, November 26, and Mental Health Awareness on Friday, December 10. Both online courses will run for three hours from 9am until noon. Follow these links for more information: Anxiety Awareness Training; Mental Health Awareness Training.

There’s also a selection of free videos on various mental health topics – including learning how to help people experiencing suicidal thoughts – on Sheila’s YouTube Channel.

In a bid to encourage as many people as possible to watch her 10 minute video on helping people with suicidal thoughts Sheila is pushing herself out of her comfort zone and facing a fear – to learn to ride a motorbike despite being in a traumatic crash as a teenager. If you can please watch and share.

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