Goal 2014: 3 Questions to help increase your well-being in the Year of the Male

Plug In To Access  Support

Plug In To Access Support

Have you heard the one about the man who asks his best mate for emotional support during a difficult period, and receives consistent, empathic care from his friend?  Chances are you haven’t.  Women may follow Sheryl Sandberg’s example at Facebook and ‘Lean In’ supporting each other, men don’t traditionally plug into their networks like that.

In fact British men may be spending nearly £1800 on making themselves look good outwardly according to 2012 research , but they aren’t making similar efforts to connect with their inner feelings and improve their emotional well-being.

Luckily there are new options men can adopt to tackle their well-being goals.  Those options are being explored by CALM , the mental health charity.

The charity is focusing on suicide prevention this year.  Here’s a sobering number CALM comments on , taken from a recent Office for National Statistics bulletin: suicide is the leading cause of death for British men under 50.  Such men are 3 times more likely to kill themselves than women.  That rate is comparable to the United States, where men are nearly 4 times more likely to take their own lives than women, according to the World Health Organisation .

Under the Year of the Male banner – that’s @yearofthemale on Twitter, or online at www.yearofthemale.com – the UK organisation is looking to challenge the range of influences which contribute to men’s less positive life experiences.  Perhaps we can all recognise that modern life has the potential to lead to high levels of stress, anxiety, and depression.

If you are a man and the experiences above ring bells, ask yourself how do your age, class, disability or employment status, ethnicity, family situation, religion, sexual orientation and upbringing affect your well-being?  What are you prepared to do change your well-being status this year?  Here are three more questions for you to reflect on.

  • What can you include in your health and well-being goal to make it more achievable?
  • In what ways will your goal help you live life with a greater degree of authenticity?
  • How will your goal add value to your dealings with the important people in your life?

Good luck with your actions.  Remember to check out the Archive section for more inspiration.  There are further ideas On Facebook and Google+ too

Goals 2014: What Kind Of Management Do You Want To Receive?

Here’s a question to ponder as the end of the reporting and financial year draws near:  How much does your progress at work depend on the effectiveness of your manager, or supervisor?

Some people want a line manager who is closely involved in the day to day aspects of their career.  This can reassure the job holder that their performance and development needs are at the front of their manager’s mind.  That could be crucial if progression, development or bonuses depend on the supervisor’s feedback.

Other job holders are content with a different approach.  They prefer being set realistic tasks, whose delivery is discussed at quarterly reviews.  This approach gives them breathing room.  They get on with delivering tasks that are within their capability.

The Guardian’s Work blog has just highlighted a worst case scenario.  In this situation a line manager is so ineffective that their job holder is becoming ill through over work.  The customers needs are not being effectively met and team morale is suffering.  The manager is an obstacle to the job holder achieving their goal, of being productive and happy at work.

See what you think of the feedback offered in the Tweet (then have a go at the bullet point questions)

  • How do you influence your manager to give you the support you deserve?
  • What do you say when their input isn’t quite right?
  • When do you know it is time to take action to change your situation?

A Healthy Balance

One Portion Of Five A Day (c) R Dennison August 2013

One Portion Of Five A Day (c) R Dennison August 2013

It isn’t fair.  You work really hard, get the job you always wanted, start to enjoy your success and then your weight becomes an issue.

If you are David Cameron (photographed on holiday recently displaying a bit of middle aged spread) there will always be someone to remind you about your weight and the impact on your health.

All this in a climate in which: Central government promotes a healthy diet including five portions of fruits and vegetables per day; Birmingham council has promoted free sessions in their leisure facilities to encourage good health http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-22350807 ; the Royal College of Psychiatrists draws attention to the link between physical activity and positive mental health.

Since the consensus is that being healthy is a good thing, how might an average person use coaching support to form a health goal?

Well, any success goal will be more powerful if it is phrased in a positive and forward looking way.  So the plaintive cry of ‘I don’t want to drag around this middle aged spread’ will benefit from some further thought.

To help the coachee refine their goal the coach might ask some questions to establish what the personal benefits of ‘feeling healthier’ would be.  For instance: what has the coachee done already to change their situation; how many steps are there to get from where they are presently to the healthier state; what will friends and family be saying when the coachee reaches their healthier state.

Answering these questions starts to build up the background to the healthier state the coachee hankers after.  It also may start suggesting what powerful initial step he or she could take to move them in the right direction.

Ultimately, the coach can help the coachee clarify their situation.  Taking the action necessary to start to attain the goal is the coachee’s responsibility.

Men’s Health

Not totally sunny (c) R Dennison July 2013

Not totally sunny (c) R Dennison July 2013

In my experience of working with male coaching clients, health concerns are just as important as career issues.   Health concerns can taint an otherwise sunny outlook, just like job woes.

I think it is interesting to note that Men’s Health Week took place in June and it highlighted the silence many men keep regarding one aspect of their wellbeing, their mental health.   There are details here:

 

http://www.menshealthforum.org.uk/mhwhttp://www.menshealthforum.org.uk/mhw

 

This silence is sobering stuff coming a few days after the actor Paul Bhattarcharjee apparently took his own life (without family and friends seeing any warning signs).  Many men don’t show they are in distress, until it is too late.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-23352162

There seem to be three parts to the challenge to coaching men to manage their mental health needs.  The coaching, responding to the client’s issues, should be helping them:

–      recognise what a healthy state feels like

 

–      acknowledge when those feelings are absent for a significant period

 

–      feel confident in seeking professional help in returning to health

 

Supporting a client in developing that awareness is quite a challenge.  It is though an important one to tackle, for the sake of men, their loved ones and their friends.

 

Under Pressure

Mental Health Awareness Ribbon

Mental Health Awareness Ribbon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Maybe it is a sign of the (tough) times in which we live, or a more enlightened attitude to the subject, either way mental health stories are becoming more prominent in the media.

Mental health related pressures that young people, and their teachers, face are the subject of two recent BBC stories.

The first feature notes some imaginative work with story telling that allows young people to work their emotions into a narrative they create. This allows them to explore anxieties in a safe way.  Hopefully it also opens the door to the young people getting the support they need.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/schoolreport/21829980

The second article records the increasing trend towards emotional or behavioural outbursts in the classroom that members of the Association Teachers and Lecturers have to deal with.  More effective training and support may help manage those classroom tensions.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-21895705

What a huge challenge it must be to have the goal of delivering effective learning for a class of 25 when one or two students are intent on acting out.  Equally, how grim are the personal circumstances of some students that they cannot turn to supportive parents or carers to help manage their distress instead all they can do is challenge their teachers.

That is not to say all is lost, if disruptive behaviour leads to permanent exclusion from school.  As the feature article in the Observer newspaper suggests, Sirach ‘Angel’ Charles’ budding musical career proves there is life after the Pupil Referral Unit.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2013/mar/24/angel-turned-fortunes-after-jail

Opening Doors

The Gilbert Scott Building at the University o...

The Gilbert Scott Building at the University of Glasgow. Taken by myself with a Canon 5D and 100mm f/2.8 lens. It is a four segment HDR tone mapped and stitched image. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Depression is a medical condition, best diagnosed by medical professionals.  I am not a medical professional, although I do have knowledge of the effects of depression.

My interest therefore was captured by BBC News coverage of Scottish research on depression, led by Prof Christopher Williams, from the University of Glasgow.

The Professor makes a pointed observation about a significant obstacle to self-development.  He notes that:

‘Depression saps people’s motivation and makes it hard to believe change is possible’.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-21083458

From my – non-medical – experience without the belief that change is possible an individual’s situation tends to stay the same.  The doors through which the future is accessed, remain firmly closed.

Actually that type of inability to contemplate change is a larger issue.  The inability can come from a variety of sources, including:

–       Upbringing and the expectations it leaves behind

–       Inadequate support system, to make self-development possible

–       Inherent characteristic (age, disability, ethnicity, faith identity, gender, sexual orientation) that mean some doors seem to have their ‘Sorry, We’re Closed’ sign showing.

I wonder if policy changes in the United States to open up military combat roles to women mean the last principle is not written in stone ?  Women believe they can do more jobs than those prescribed for them, and seemingly the administration agrees.

Maybe it goes to show, if there is a strong enough case for change and a belief that a closed door should be opened, then change can happen.

 

Details about the US military policy on women in combat are below:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-21172033

 

More details about the Scottish research into depression is available by following this link:

http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0052735