Mental Health – no longer the elephant in the room

Mental Health – no longer the elephant in the room


Flexmind’s Sylvia Bruce will be speaking at Navex Global’s 27th November event for Whistleblowing programme owners.

Sylvia will help explore how the development of a supportive culture is vital to good governance, risk reduction/prevention and effective whistleblowing programmes. Sylvia will also highlight the negative role that fear and poor mental health are playing.

Governance and regulation are a core part of running an organisation successfully. Instructions and guidance are given, processes modified and controls put in place. Yet, the organisation’s workforce, vital to the implementation of initiatives such as “Whistleblowing Programmes” often continues to operate in a culture that doesn’t support the expected outcomes.

In some organisations, employees operate in toxic cultures that turn on the whistleblower and make them an outcast.

Leaders need to consider developing a workplace culture that nurtures and supports transparency and communication. Whether the whistleblowing relates to sexual harassment, misuse of power, abuse, bullying, fraud or other negative behaviours, adequate and appropriate support for both the whistleblower or victim and the alleged perpetrator(s).

Come along to “Whistleblowing in Business” to see how effective governance, people management and supportive workplace cultures go hand in hand.

Alternatively, get in touch with the team at Flexmind and find out first hand from our experts as to how we can help support you in creating an effective and supportive culture within your organisation.

At Flexmind, we are passionate about creating the supportive environments in which organisations and their people can do their best.

If you are an organisation of any kind, Flexmind can help you provide your very best support for your workforce and stakeholders.  Get in touch with us today.

Mental Health – no longer the elephant in the room


More than ever, there is increased acceptance within society of people who decide to live their lives, identify with or express themselves in ways that aren’t traditionally the norm. But, it is still such a difficult journey for so many.

It’s is a difficult enough decision for the individual, which is further compounded by the difficulties others have with accepting their change. Society and certain segments of it in particular still have a long way to go towards those who identify as LGBT.

One of the hardest things to cope with is “coming out of the closet” to family, friends and colleagues. Being concerned and afraid of how others might react to their coming out can take a huge toll on the individual. Many have such difficulties conveying their new lifestyle and choices that it leads to feelings of isolation, depression and anxiety.

Support is available for individuals, those that care for them and their friends and employers.

Today we are pleased to share resources for those lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transexual friends coming out. They deserve support to help protect their mental health and to prevent feelings of isolation.

Get in touch with Flexmind today and find out from our business and mental health experts how you can transform your organisation to one with motivated, productive staff generating increased revenue and reduced operating cost.

Stonewall - Help & Advice On Coming Out

Support and advice from Stonewall on coming out for young peoples, parents and adults.

Mermaids - support for trans coming out

Coming out as transgender can be incredibly isolating both for the person and the family who support them. Don’t be alone, reach out to Mermaids who can put you in touch with others.

At Flexmind, we are passionate about the individuals right to choose how they want to live and ensure that our work supports all. We champion inclusivity of sex, gender, race, religion or lifestyle our work focuses on the mental health of the individual, with compassion and empathy at its core.

If you are an organisation of any kind, Flexmind can help you provide your very best support for your employees or customers who are coming out or living life in the way of their choice.  From education, to support for individuals and even to developing frameworks and reward systems that have compassion and empathy at their core. It makes sense whilst helping others, you can help your organisation achieve higher productivity and reduce costs.

Mental Health – no longer the elephant in the room


On World Mental Health Day 2019, our minds turn to the toll many people’s work has on their mental health. Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of our employers, our workplaces can often be toxic for us.

If I were to ask you to name the things that are most important to your business, you would likely have ‘people’ right up there near the top. After all, you’ve probably invested heavily in acquiring and nurturing the right talent.

You’ll no doubt agree with me that happy teams full of staff that enjoy coming to work do better and contribute to the company thriving. But the reality is that the workplace can be taking a severe toll on employees. Despite appearances, many are finding it harder to come into work than they should.

You are doing well but are always looking for that bit extra to drive competitive advantage and profitability. But what else could you do?

Well, the answer isn’t so far away from where you’ve already been investing your time and money. It’s all about your employee’s mental health. That’s the key. It makes sense for your business, and it makes sense for your people.

Research has shown that UK businesses lose between £33 Billion and £42 Billion per annum due to poor mental health.

One of the biggest causes of sick leave is mental health. Although its probably recorded in a self-certification as a cold, flu or the dreaded diarrhoea due to the stigma attached to admitting something like anxiety or depression. A report by ACAS estimated that mental ill-health, including stress, depression and anxiety contributed in the UK to 91 million lost working days each year, more than for any other illness. No wonder so many colleagues complain that there are not enough staff to do the job. Quite a few of them are missing.

Those were the days lost that were identifiable because you could tell that employees were off sick. Worse still will be the impact of the employees that are affected by mental ill-health and are actually at work. You won’t be able to count those so quickly because the employees turned up, but they are likely severely underperforming.

Presenteeism is what happens when poor mental health distracts your staff. Some are recognisable because it is clear that your employees left their minds and enthusiasm at home. For others, the reduction in performance, the error rate or levels of risk taken are likely increasing, but its harder to spot or quantify.

Employees that are affected by depression and anxiety will often perform as well as anyone else. Many will be highly functioning. It’s not as simple as testing everyone and moving those that test positive to one side, focusing only on the so-called ‘healthy employees’. Nor is it simply a case of providing education, support lines for after it goes wrong, or training every other employee to be a mental health first aider, although they have their role.

In order for an organisation to be at it’s very best, it needs to value its employees and nurture their mental health.

Organisations benefit when they understand that employees are human, with moods and feelings that go up and down. A successful organisation will know words such as empathy and compassion and won’t need to sacrifice productivity or be “softer” to achieve results.

Successful organisations can achieve levels of collaboration and resilience that can not only boost the bottom line, but also give its staff, their families and friends a much needed boost too. Those are organisations where staff want to go to work and where they can focus on what’s in front of them from day to day. Most of all, they’ll know that if something happens in their lives, they’ll be able to talk to their peers and managers and receive the support they need.

Get in touch with Flexmind today and find out from our business and mental health experts how you can transform your organisation to one with motivated, productive staff generating increased revenue and reduced operating cost.

Mental Health – no longer the elephant in the room


As we publish this post on World Suicide Prevention Day we are reminded of the prevalence of suicide and the stigma it continues to hold in society. Despite progress being made in terms of talking about mental health in general, there has been little movement when it comes to suicide.  As a result, too many people continue to face crisis alone

The number of deaths due to suicide is increasing again. Some of the increase might be down to an adjustment to the threshold for inclusion in the statistics, however, the increase remains a concern.

Changing our attitudes to suicide and being more open to discussing it will save lives. We need to start talking about suicide.  We need to start asking people if they are considering ending their lives.

Already today at just after 5 am this morning Brian Tancock, our Founder and Director asked someone in crisis if they were thinking of suicide.

As part of Brian’s Crisis Volunteer work with Shout, this is a question he and his colleagues are asking multiple times each day. In many cases the answer is no, but in quite a number of cases is yes and after asking about planning, means and timing they help people work on positive actions that they can take to keep themselves safe and seek further help. Sometimes they also have to seek help from the emergency services specially where there is an imminent risk and progress cant be made through talking alone.

Our message on suicide is simple:

If you are in crisis, please talk to someone. Talk to a friend, relative, colleague, employer, a Doctor or one of the many helplines. In fact, anyone. You can also contact mental health professionals, and if you are in immediate risk of harm contact your local emergency services. There is always someone who wants to listen, even if it doesn’t always seem that way.

If you are worried about someone in crisis, talk to them. Ask them how they are feeling and importantly ask them if they are thinking about suicide.  Be direct. Statistics show that asking someone directly about their suicidal thoughts will not increase the risk of them ending their own life. If people start using phrases such as: I don’t want to be here; I want to end it all; I’m nothing, No one will miss me, I’ve had enough of it all or similar ask them about how they are feeling and bring suicide directly into the discussion.

There are a thousand ways to start a conversation about your crisis, and if you are in the UK Shout is here for all of them.
Text Shout to 85258 for 24/7 support.  You can visit for more information.

You can also contact The Samaritans.

In the US you can text HOME to 741741 or in Canada text to 686868 – these support lines are provided by Crisis Text Line.

#WSPD #WSPD2019 #Shout85258 #giveusashout @giveusashout

Please note that Flexmind does not provide one to one counselling services directly to the public. If you need help, please contact one of the options listed above, contact your local emergency services or The Samaritans.

Mental Health – no longer the elephant in the room


In a recent report on ITV News journalist, Mary Stanley highlighted firefighters Stu Vince & Adam Bundle of Hampshire Fire & Rescue Service and their mission to get people talking about how they feel.

We frequently hear about the increased risks that men face of suicide and unaddressed poor mental health. Because of the conditioning that men have generally had growing up they often struggle to share their feelings. For those working in emergency services, it can be tough given what they experience each day. Both male and female officers and firefighters can find that tradition & culture suggests they “man-up’ or use laughter and black-humour to get them through whatever they encounter in their work. Thankfully this is starting to change, but the pace of change is far too slow for the current generation of officers.

Stu was diagnosed with severe anxiety, depression and PTSD after surgery and both had been impacted by the pressures and strains of working on the front line of the emergency services where trauma is every present.

‘we have both had to overcome some form of mental health problem during their working life. Coping with the loss of colleagues at work, the regular pressures of making life and death decisions whilst attending a wide variety of life-threatening incidents, or daily pressures such as keeping a roof over their families head. It’s of no surprise then that over the last few years we all have witnessed a dramatic increase in mental health issues in the workplace and we are determined to do something about it, for everyone.’

Stu and Vince are now making a real difference by talking openly and publically. Both having trained as Mental Health First Aiders and are showing their colleagues and others that it is ok to open up about your mental health to someone trusted or mental health professional. They are now preparing to go into other workplaces to share their experiences and to show those they meet that it is ok to talk.

The impact advocates and educators like these have goes far beyond those they are working directly with. It is not uncommon for mental health issues to extend beyond the primary person – in this case, the firefighter – and cross over to having a significant impact on their loved ones and friends. Work such as that done by Stu and Vince and the awareness that they are raising can have far-reaching benefits.

As Stu and Vince are coming into the next phase of their work supporting those impacted by poor mental health. To raise awareness they will be rowing across the Atlantic in 2020, they are also looking to support Mind Solent through their work. You can find out more about their mission and contribute at their JustGiving page:

The Flexmind team recognise the individual courage of Stu and Vince, not least of all for the work they do in their day to day jobs, but also for the bravery they have shown sharing how they feel and talking about what they have gone through. We know the huge effort it has taken on their part to do all of this.

Flexmind’s founder Brian Tancock was well aware of the trauma that his late father experienced in his role as a police officer with the Metropolitan Polic. Through working with a client who is an ex-firefighter, turned Doctor & Clinical Psychologist with a particular focus on PTSD and Trauma and other trauma specialists we have developed a deep passion for supporting those affected by poor mental health as a result of what they have experienced in their work lives. A number of our team members have also experienced first hand how even those in so-called ‘normal’ low-risk office jobs are frequently impacted by their experiences at work.

You can see the full report by Mary Stanley for ITV News and watch the video at:

Flexmind  have a deep understanding of mental health, risk, regulation and business processes provide the consultancy, advisory, educational and support services, including psychologists and trauma specialists to help the emergency services and any type of organisation work towards doing better for their people and better managing the risk to the organisation. Contact us today to find out more about how we can help you setup up the right framework and start tackling workplace-related mental health issues head-on.

Brian Tancock
Director & Founder

Flexmind Ltd 

Mental Health – no longer the elephant in the room


This week the BBC ran a story on its Newsbeat site ‘Ex-student sues Cambridge University over harassment complaint’.

‘A former student says she’s suing the University of Cambridge over the way it dealt with her harassment complaint.

Dani Bradford, 21, says she’s taken the action because she “wants things to change for other students”.

The university upheld a complaint she made about being sent “sexualised” text messages – but Dani isn’t happy with the way it handled her case.

Cambridge University says it “takes the personal safety of its students very seriously”.’

The concerns raised by Dani Bradford for her ongoing support and welfare after the event are without doubt wellfounded and reasonable. The has the right to continue to study in an environment that provides the support and reassurance that she needs. The trauma faced by people in her situation is both very real and substantial. It is also very common.

Our minds then turn to the University of Cambridge. There’s no reason to doubt that they take the personal safety of students very seriously.  But like most institutions, likely there is much more that can be done, even if they already meet all central and local government requirements and adhere to commonly understood standards in this area. Reliance upon often outdated regulation, guidelines and risk assessment that are often not fit for purpose can leave organisations woefully exposed if they are ever brought before a Judge.

Unfortunately, such stories are all too common, whether it is related to workplace harassment or in this case within an academic setting. Every day far too many people are having to say #metoo for the first time as they just joined the ranks of those who have been abused or harassed.

Protecting students through preventative measures such as education, the setting of standards and expectations as to what constitutes appropriate or inappropriate behaviour, developing the concept of permission-based interaction and developing healthier cultures and behaviours all need more work.  …and we don’t mean a knee-jerk intervention by the anti-fun police.

But there is more these organisations need to do. Firstly they need to get this right for the people over which they have a duty of care. That includes the students, their lecturers and the wide variety of academics, staff and third-parties working at, visiting or simply passing through a universities premises.

Then there is the need to get it right for the organisation or institution. This article focuses on Universities, but the exact same scenario exists within any public or private sector institution.  Get it wrong and there are significant financial, legal and reputation risks to the organisation.  Those doubting this, only have to look at the impact of not being in control of sexual harassment for organisations such as the UK Parliament, Stanford and Uber. Stanford, that hallowed of institutions found global notoriety in January 2015 with the now infamous Standford Rape Case.  One of the key reasons they struggled to get their London license renewed was because they weren’t seen to be protecting their passengers or responding to complaints sufficiently. The Mayor Of London took action in this case, and if such an action plays out badly it can still cost billions.

So in this day and age, where transgressions can go viral and can be reported on within minutes by any number of news institutions global it is important to be able to demonstrate that you’ve done everything reasonably possible to protect those that you have direct or even indirect responsibility for.

It’s no longer good enough to rely on the old line ‘…. takes the safety of its staff and ….. very seriously’.

Quite simply as an organisation you have to be able to demonstrate that you’ve done everything possible and can back this up by demonstrating that you have educated, challenged and changed processes, tracked, monitored, responded to complaints and had independent decision making of issues and scrutiny over what you have done.

Whoever is responsible for risk in your organisation and you should have a Chief Risk Officer or equivalent, needs to have issues like this on the very top of their agenda. It’s time that they stopped trying to weather the storm, relying on insurance cover, recommending compensation and Non-Disclosure Agreements to victims, accepting such issues as a ‘cost of dealing with the public’ etc and look to address the real root cause. Asking why such problems occur and looking at the root cause will likely end up looking at Senior Management, Processes, Culture etc. It won’t be an easy process and will require many leaders to look carefully at themselves, but ignoring it is no longer an option.

And in a case such as that with Dani Bradford at Cambridge,  when something hasn’t gone quite right, you’ll need to be able to provide support and care to mitigate the impact, cost and trauma experienced and to help the people through and beyond the event successfully and positively for all parties concerned.  And you might just have to be prepared to write a pretty sizable cheque if you don’t – compensation, fines and repairing reputation damage, lost revenue etc don’t come cheap these days.

Partners such as Flexmind who have a deep understanding of mental health, risk, regulation and business processes provide the consultancy, advisory, educational and support services, including psychologists and sexual abuse specialists to help Universities, Businesses and the Public Sector work towards doing better for their people and better managing the risk to the organisation.  Contact us today to find out more about how we can help you setup up the right framework and start tacking sexual abuse head-on.

Brian Tancock
Director & Founder

Flexmind Ltd 


Photo by Eric Ward on Unsplash

Mental Health – no longer the elephant in the room


People manage their mental health in different ways but unlike our physical health accessing advice, getting support and the right sort of help for maintaining our mental wellness hasn’t been as simple as calling the GP for an appointment, going to the surgery, and  getting a prescription. Depression, trauma/PTSD, anxiety, stress, are conditions which can – and do – affect anyone, at any time.

We spend most of our lives in our workplace, whether it’s in an office, a factory, out in a field, on the high seas, or working from home, our workplaces play a huge role in shaping our state of mind and in driving how we perceive, react and respond to situations.

Workplaces are an interesting melting pot of people. Not just their different backgrounds, ethnicities and age groups, there are also the unseen aspects of people and their lives, their stories and their experiences which have shaped them and define who they are, and yet we usually know either very little or nothing at all about them and what makes them tick, what drives them, how they see themselves, and why they are who they are.

I always keep in mind the old saying about walking a mile in someone else’s shoes, in my view it best sums up how and why we all need to be aware of the unknown unknowns in the workplace especially when we think about mental health. And not just at work but also in our interest groups, networks, circles of friends, in our neighbourhoods and in our communities.

Throughout my career I’ve had experiences in dealing with those “difficult employees” who were off on “long-term sickness” due to stress; it’s fair to say that years ago it was generally regarded by many – including CEOs and executives as well as the general workforce – that the culprits were skiving or taking an extended sickie to avoid doing their job while still enjoying the benefits of the position.

Back then the whole “stress” situation was dealt with like a delicate dance around the corridors in which only HR and the appropriate line manager would be involved, kid gloves on and handling the stressed employee delicately like porcelain for fear of prodding the hibernating bear into taking aggressive, retaliatory action against the company. In these situations the focus was more geared towards the employment law legalities and managing the potential financial impact on the company rather than looking at how the company could take a more strategic approach to addressing how to get an employee back into a workplace which would be not only welcoming but also aware, supportive, encouraging and sympathetic, and without stigma and repercussions. Although there was some level of sympathy for the “difficult employee”, it was always said (behind closed doors) that the place would be better off without him or her the sooner they decide to just take a few months in lieu as a pay-off and go away for good.

Taking a long, hard look at the culture of the workplace – the working habits, the behaviour of the superiors and managers, communication, and the tone set by the leadership – was rarely, or usually never, up for discussion.

In other words:

  • there was no awareness of how or why it happened: how did we get there, are / were we part of the problem?
  • the company had no strategy for addressing how to prevent the next case,
  • creating a world of work where the benefits of tackling the root cause of the problem was never ever considered – no vision, no real self-analysis, no lightbulb moment.

There are many stories out there of people in high pressure positions who have self-managed their mental health.

One of the most famous examples is that of Sir Winston Churchill. For all his resilience and strength he was prone to bouts of depression, his “black dog” as he referred to it. His way of managing it was to work long hours and keep his mind occupied.

This approach is not unusual, and millions around the world do just that to fight off depression and other mental health challenges. For some it works and for many others, it doesn’t; trying to work through depression or prolonged anxiety or stress can only make it worse, often with devastating consequences for the individual, their families, and their colleagues.

Others have proactively highlighted the need to take time off for their mental wellness and have done just that – shutdown the computer, switched off the ‘phone, and taken a break, only to return in far better mental and physical shape ready to tackle the most daunting challenges.

It’s important we recognise that people handle – or don’t handle – their mental health in a way that is most effective for them.

One final word on Work-Life Balance – something which is often talked about, rarely is it a reality. It’s a tired cliché. Some organisations go out of their way to highlight their credentials when it comes to Work-Life Balance:

  • family friendly
  • flexible working hours
  • work from home policies
  • no meetings after 5 pm
  • leave your phone at home when you go on vacation,

and on it goes. But very rarely is this the reality in our globalised and interconnected world.

Yet this very simple concept, if followed and practised at every level of an organisation, could just help to make enough of a difference in tipping the balance when it comes to helping to improve mental health in the workplace.

But it has to be driven by the leadership as part of de-stigmatising mental health.

Mental health is no longer taboo, it is no longer an outlier, it is no longer the elephant in the room.

As business leaders we can all play our part in pointing out the elephant in the room, embracing it as common ground and as a unifying factor which can drive a healthier, more harmonious, and successful workplace.

Flexmind works with businesses to develop and implement strategies and programmes which improve mental health in the workplace. Our unique approach goes beyond just raising awareness – we work with our clients to tackle the causes of poor workplace mental health and delivers better outcomes for staff, management and boards through transforming culture, capability and resilience, and enhancing corporate performance. If you have any concerns about workplace mental health, or if you simply just want to know more, we’re here to help. Connect with us confidentially via our Contact page
Flexmind Ltd

Working with businesses, the public sector, government and individuals to change lives through best in class mental health and wellness products & services.

Registered Office

Flexmind Ltd,
The Business Terrace,
Maidstone House,
King Street, Maidstone, ME15 6JQ
United Kingdom

All rights reserved - © 2020 Flexmind - Workplace Training, Mental Health for Organisations