Elaine Motion, Chairman of Balfour+Manson shares her thoughts about mental health as part of the Society's Pass the Badge campaign launch to mark World Mental Health Day 2020.
While I am the Chairman of Balfour+Manson, I am also and equally (if not more) importantly a wife, mother and daughter. I am delighted to take part in this campaign in relation to wellbeing and mental health. I have learned so much throughout my life from amazing people who have struggled with and ultimately overcame/found techniques to manage their mental health. One of the main issues they have spoken to me about is that it is absolutely critical not to bottle things up but to discuss with people that you feel comfortable with. That could be a family member or someone completely independent.
Learning from them and hearing their coping mechanisms has taught me how to deal with stress and issues that could lead to mental health problems. For me personally that means speaking with close friends/family about issues that have caused stress or concern; coming to terms with those situations; finding ways to resolve or contain them and identifying techniques to deal with any recurrence. I recognise that I am extremely fortunate to have that great support network.
One way that I try to de-stress is doing exercise, whether swimming or walking with the family/dogs as well as getting out of the city. I am absolutely certain that I would not have been able to carry out my role without doing this. Simply put, I always try to find time to give myself some space to breathe.
Sadly, I am aware that speaking about our mental health is still very much a taboo and I can think of instances in the past where only a very few people were aware of stresses I was under – but having them and the escape pods detailed above prevented any real issues arising.
Personally I am as certain as I can be that nobody can go through their professional life without encountering such difficulties. In some of the work I do I have seen the profound and devastating impact of that on individuals and their businesses – especially where they have not felt able or simply did not know when or how to ask for help.
If there is one message that I would pass on, it is NEVER to be afraid to seek assistance. Most people are more caring and supportive than you could ever imagine - you just need to let them know that you need help. It is not a sign of weakness but rather strength.