‘Isn’t it good to just sit and talk about mental health?’ was the rhetorical question posed by Leading Edge Performance Advisor, Don Barrell at the end of Wednesday’s Performance Hub.
‘Pints for Positive Mental Health’ saw 30 of our clients and network spending the afternoon being guided through the People’s Captain range of craft beers by founder and professional rugby player Greg Bateman.
Greg is a passionate advocate for ‘positive mental health and shared his story of his personal experience with mental health issues, and how a friend, in his words, “saved his life”.
We used the People’s Captain beer characters – like Legend, Stereotype and Islander to frame questions and themes for discussions in and around the beer. (with the aid of Ian and Chris from Performance Edge as facilitators).
And what amazingly open and informative discussions they were.
While many organisations have invested in and created some amazing initiatives for mental health support – it’s easier to sleep knowing ‘HR have skills in this’, or ‘we have Mental Health Ambassadors’ – in many ways these have removed us from the very real impact we can individually have in connecting with each other on a human to human level.
A big barrier for many is the fear of ‘not knowing how to help’ – and worrying we’ll say or do the wrong thing. Our conversation on Wednesday affirmed how we often want to help, we are genuinely concerned and care – but we get tongue tied when faced with a friend or colleague in distress. Realisation that our focus shouldn’t be on ‘knowing what to say’, and instead should be on ‘knowing how to listen’ was a welcome provocation. You could almost hear a collective sigh of relief when Greg said ‘you don’t have to fix it’.
We are so used to fixing things, to finding solutions, to focus on perpetual movement, that it takes a real change of energy and focus to just engage in conversation, with no agenda other than to ‘be there’.
Patrick Marr went on to share some of the Mental Skills techniques that he’s been working on with professional athletes at Dragons Rugby in his role as Mental Skills and Leadership Coach. Both he and Greg endorsed the message that ‘mental health’ should be viewed as proactive and positive, not just a media coloured negative image. As Greg says ‘we’ve got bucket loads of awareness, we now need to take action’.
It was a real privilege to be able to take time on Wednesday to sit and explore this topic with Greg and all those who attended.
You can find out more about People’s Captain beer and the People’s Captain foundation at https://peoplescaptain.co.uk