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Mental Health Resilience

I’ve found that the term “resilience” is used a lot in describing the mindset that organisations want to see in their employees as a way of improving not just personal, but organisational wellbeing. While this is welcome, the increasing focus on workplace wellbeing provision should not come at the expense of effective workplace management cultures, which I think is overlooked by lots of the organisations I come into contact with, so what does resilience look like?

A good description of resilience is “the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, threats or significant sources of stress” I think you can relate this to what happens in everyday life, either from a work or personal point of view.

I have a teenage daughter who I try to talk to about resilience. Her response to me talking to her usually involves lots of eye rolling and calling me names…. You may ask why I do this, but I think there is a value in me giving her some information about developing a quality that allows people who are knocked down by life, to come back stronger than ever. While the term resilience may be new, what it describes is not, as you’ll see from the examples on how you can improve your resilience.

  • Mental Flexibility – The ability to view many situations and challenges in an optimistic way and think of possible alternatives to success.
  • No overthinking – ‘Thoughts are not facts’ Having the ability to elevate yourself from any unwarranted stress of the mind and not seeing situations worse than they are.
  • Feeling comfortable with the unknown – Life will throw many curveballs your way, so being content with the uncertainty and seeing it as an avenue to grow and learn new things.
  • Build positive beliefs in your ability – Believe in your capabilities.
  • Build a community of support – Surround yourself with caring, supportive people who are keen to see you flourish at life, as well as appreciating the loved ones currently in your life.

Personally, I’ve got to the stage where I try and see failure as good feedback which   is useful, but maybe that has something to do with my life experiences, age and the job I carry out. We, as a society are now much more aware of the effect that mental health can have on our lives. You only have to look at the pressure that Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) services are under and the explosion in private counselling services to see that people are increasingly looking for mental health related health and support.

Resilience is an important tool that can be developed and improved upon; it is not just something you either have or do not have. Having that ability to not hide from challenges but welcome them, and deal with a possible defeat but know how to overcome it and succeed the next time around. A healthy personal life in terms of surrounding yourself with people who will be a positive influence, eating healthily, getting physical exercise can all amount to a better mental health and increase resilience. So while there is a strong case about why personal resilience is important, what happens in organisations?

There is an assumed importance of resilience in an organisational setting and there have been programs developed to try and increase resilience of employees. As we know, resilience is this idea of persevering during tough times and facing adversity head on. This can be an incredible trait to possess not only in everyday life but also at the workplace.

A useful definition of workplace resilience is “A functioning team will be acutely aware of the need for its team members to feel consistently psychologically well, as this, combined with motivation and a positive attitude, offers the opportunity for it to perform at its peak”.

Workplaces that promote a vibrant, friendly, hardworking environment that also take interest in their employees’ health can result in better performances as well as better overall mental resilience

Mental resilience is not a trait you are born with and cannot acquire; it is more something you can learn, harness and really improve upon with time and effort. I’m hoping that eye rolling is some sort of subliminal evidence of learning how to become more resilient…..