Nick Gold: The rise of public speakers focusing on mental health and the impact this is having on business

A healthy work-life balance has always been important to ensure a happy and productive workforce. However, as I’ve seen the years fly by during my business life, the understanding of what a healthy work-life balance means, and how the working environment as a whole is critical to this has evolved, matured and thankfully is now better understood.

But we are still at the tip of the iceberg and is something that is absolutely critical for any organisation to fully grasp, especially as society is now prepared to acknowledge, discuss and debate how the status of their mental health impacts on their performance at work.  The parallels between a healthy employee and success for the individual, and company, are for everyone to see.

In the past subject matter experts and speakers used to be quite clear about the division between individual and corporate experience, but now we have reached an understanding that the two cannot be separated.

Organisations need to accept that the private and professional wellbeing of their employees are intertwined and understand that creating the right environment in the workplace is the stepping stone to forming a trusted relationship and bond with their employees.

The really fascinating aspect of the rise of speakers discussing mental health, and the specific subject areas surrounding it, is that, probably for the first time in the world of speaking, the subject matter is consistently delivered with a focus on tangible practical tips to help an audience implement change.

From speakers gearing their talk towards an individual and takeaways that they can implement in their life, or how an organisation can improve the environment that their employees are being part of every day, mental health speakers are delivering real change.

For a person who spends their lives focussed in the world of public speaking, what I find especially fascinating and unique to this subject is regardless if the speech is based on the speaker’s own experiences or based on a lifetime of academic sand practical study, (which would usually result in different approaches to the speaking subject), in the field of mental health, they always are focused on delivering practical and tangible advice.

It’s our opinion that when organisations wish to deliver an event within the area of mental health, its critical to break down the different specific subjects within this field, with an understanding that with the right speakers aligned to the specific subject, in a single hour session ideas can be kickstarted that implement real change that makes a difference.

Usually, these are never ‘big change’ ideas, but rather small re-positionings that change mindsets and improve environments for the stressful world that is corporate life.  If a company can deliver a programme of these sessions, focussed on different areas in the field of mental health over a period of time, which all result in small but deliverable change, over the course of the time this will create a workplace which delivers success from both a corporate and individual experience.

As individuals, now more than ever, we have embraced the understanding that we can take control of our environment in a professional basis as much as a personal basis. If we understand about how we think and understand that all of us have different thought processes, trigger points, anxiety levels, drivers, success criteria amongst a myriad of other areas that comprise our mental health, this will be immensely beneficial in our life journeys.

From business leaders to middle managers to junior employees, it’s struck me that we all want to learn and improve in our management and understanding of mental health, which will help us develop and give us achievement and fulfilment in our lives.

Understanding this, from an employer perspective, gives an opportunity to forge deep relationships with our employees which will help create shared opportunities and increased engagement.

For the HR department that understands that focussing on the mental health of their employees (and themselves) will deliver enormous upside for the company (and the individual),  then they need to focus on the granularity of the subject, developing a greater understanding which areas should be focussed on as they inevitably are most pressing and causing the most issues within the organisation.

My advice is that not to make assumptions or to take trends as good indicators but rather use this as opportunity to engage with your employees who will integral to the success of these sessions.

Sub-dividing the field of mental health into tangible areas could be driven by a greater understanding of the subjects that speakers in this field who are of interest can talk about, or it might be driven by asking those who will be listening what areas they would like focus on.

Building the narrative up from the detail of the individual sessions to ensure the story as a whole, is one that makes sense and delivers value, is something that can be achieved with careful programming of the subjects in the right order that they flow to deliver an overall message as well as the detailed tangible learnings from each session.

If this is all planned up front as an overall programme, it will also allow the organiser to brief each of the individual speakers about their specific session and also the overall strategy to ensure they deliver their speech with the knowledge of the big picture.

For any great speaker, they will adapt and deliver their session to subtly ensure they are part of the overall messaging and help create a programme, which will be both sustained in the strategic focus on improving the workplace environment and ensuring positive mental health for the employees, but also small practical changes that can be delivered immediately either by the individual or by the company to finally make an immediate difference for everyone.