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From one startup to another: how do we discuss mental health?

Here at OneFifty we are firm believers that it is important to provide resources that support and optimise our team’s personal well-being so they are able to thrive at work. In our continuing search to improve our tools to provide a healthy work culture, we found Sanctus, another startup. Sanctus provides confidential and unbiased spaces for employees to talk about any challenges they might face from their mental health to personal development goals. Our Sanctus coach, Claire, drops by once a month and her work really benefits our team. We love her!

Sanctus’ view is that mental health should be treated like physical health; their aim is to put the world’s first mental health gym on the high street! We got to speak with James Routledge, the founder of Sanctus and listened to his insights on the relationships they find between social media, your environment, and mental health, and how we all have mental health that we need to look after.

From memes to awareness of potential negative implications, let’s see what James had to say…

#1 Social Media and Mental Health

Do you think anonymous online discussion helps people be more open?

James: It can help people to get to the point of opening up, yes.

Why does it matter that we understand how mental health is discussed online?

James: In many ways, people might feel more comfortable to share online as there’s less risk from behind the screen. For some, this can be a valuable outlet and there are, of course, cases where people find great catharsis and connection online. However, there are other instances where people’s mental health is triggered in negative ways online and this is really important for us to monitor.

Do you think ‘mental health day’ is a useful concept?

James: It’s an absolutely necessary one in my opinion. We have sick days so let’s have days off for poor mental health.

Do you find that humour is a good way to discuss mental health with someone?

James: I’d say we do; humour can be a way to make mental health less scary and more relatable for people.

Is there a forum that you would recommend that has a strong community or is particularly informative?

James: Sanctus on Instagram is a good place to start, definitely. Other than that, a lot of the other forums can be good for some but very triggering for others. It’s hard to find a place that is very inclusive.

What we saw on Facebook was that people who were most active were likely to be parents discussing learning disabilities. We know that young people are aware of mental health. How do we get more of them involved in charity pages, for example?

James: I feel like younger people need to be spoken to with more relevant content, hence why the memes are obviously doing so well!

#2 Work and Environment

Our own research in mental health conversation online last year saw that common topic was the relationship between mental health and the modern work lifestyle. With higher pressure and longer hours behind a computer screen, we asked James how Sanctus are seeing a rise in work-related mental health conversations.

How much do you find that work is discussed in conjunction with mental health?

James: A lot and a lot more recently. People are spending more and more time at work, plus we’re expecting more from our workplaces. Work might not always cause mental health issues, but it can be where they manifest. Work has a huge impact on our mental health so it comes up a lot.

What do you think may cause the cyclical nature of mentions during the week?

James: It’s tough to say, but it definitely looks like there is a clear link between people’s weekly living patterns and their mental health. I suppose it just confirms that our outside environment affects people’s inner worlds.

#3 Mental health is not homogeneous

Do you think there is still a stigma with publicly discussing mental health?

James: Yes and, to some extent, I believe there always will be. There is always going to be stuff that people find hard to talk about.

What demographics do you tend to see from your clients? Is it homogeneous or does it tend to be varied across most backgrounds?

James: Since we started Sanctus one thing has consistently been hammered home to us; we all have mental health, no matter our age, gender or ethnicity. However, we learnt something quickly, that is; our environment at work and home impacts our mental health in unique ways for everyone.

What emotions do you see the most in your sessions?

James: How long have you got?! Mental health encompasses the full range of human emotions, so it’s so diverse. When people bring their full self to a space, you’ll see the whole of them and that’s a lot of emotion!

Within your sessions do you see news stories shaping the narrative or your conversations or people becoming aware of certain conditions through the news?

James: The trends going on in the world certainly impact people and, let’s say when there’s a lot of news stories about sexual harassment or racism, that can inspire people to share those sorts of topics too.

Are there certain conditions that you encounter or that are more talked about and discussed?

James: Anxiety and burnout seem to be getting to the point where they are normalised to an extent to talk about. Depression too is becoming more talked about, but the label seems to scare people a bit more.

Do you think there still is a generational gap in discussing mental health?

James: From what we’ve seen at Sanctus, younger generations are slightly more open to talking openly about mental health. Yet, that’s not to say older generations are completely against it. We just see a skew towards a younger demographic.

Overall, it is refreshing to work with a company that values and understands the importance of personal well-being and we are proud to be partnered with them to help to remove the stigma that is attached to acknowledging personal mental health!

If you would like to hear how Sanctus have helped OneFifty, here are some comments about the support our coach Claire brings:

“From my brief experience with Sanctus, I have found it really beneficial on a professional and personal level. Claire is amazing, insightful and very helpful in helping me tackle the subjects we speak about. She is extremely professional but makes me feel at ease every time I see her.”

“I’d say Claire pretty adaptable – e.g. listens extremely well and can relate to you whatever situation/emotions you’re in.”


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