Why is it important to focus on the four in four?

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Written by Andrea Woodside, Training Lead at retailTRUST

One in four adults will experience a mental health problem at some point during the course of their lifetime, and it’s heartening to know that the vast majority of organisations take every step to ensure that each receives compassionate support and signposting to professional support as early as possible.

And yet, a full four in four of us will experience a major life event over the course of our working lives.

Be it a bereavement, a relationship breakdown, a sick child or parent, financial difficulties, or a traumatic event, organisations are, statistically at least, more likely to be called upon to support a colleague facing a significant setback than they are a colleague with a mental health problem.

The one in four matters as much as the four in four. We’re in this together.

Life events are not mental health problems. Granted, if someone is left to struggle with the resulting emotional distress on their own and is not encouraged to seek professional guidance and support, we may well find that those grappling with major events will reach a point where physical or mental health problems develop. But, and here’s the key, when managers simply act as the conduit between a colleague’s emotional distress, whatever its root cause, and professional help, we have the opportunity to help lives to get back on track.

I’ve been reflecting recently on how COVID-19 has amplified the distress associated with difficult life events. Social disconnection, economic uncertainty, and at times a mind-boggling pace of change, are, for many people, making recovery from life events that much harder. This doesn’t mean that we’re less resourceful and resilient, just that we have more hoops to jump through to get to the other side.

Determining whether or not someone has a mental health problem is ultimately not the role of the employer. Their role is to act as the conduit between a colleague’s distress and professional support. What does matter is that all of us – without exception – will experience a setback at some point which causes us to feel low, sad, lost or hopeless. And all of us – without exception – deserves kindness, compassion, and support in getting back to the quality of life we all so richly deserve.

So, please join us and be there #forthefour.

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About the author

Andrea Woodside, Training Lead at retailTRUST

Andrea began her career in wellbeing at work 28 years ago, and has worked with a wide range of industries to support employers to tackle mental health stigma in the workplace, create sustainable solutions for safeguarding their people’s wellbeing, and design programmes which encourage recovery from emotional distress.

Andrea has provided wellbeing consultancy to retailTRUST customers since 2012, and is well positioned to understand the unique needs and challenges of today’s retailers. She served as a Trustee of Mind England and Wales for seven years, and regularly appears in the media to discuss ways in which all employers can create workplaces which promote best practice.