A lot of managers ask me ‘Peter, how can we tell if someone REALLY has got a mental illness?’ They want to know if they are being manipulated and taken advantage of. Have you ever walked away with the feeling that someone was taking advantage of you in this area? It’s possible. And today I will show you how you can minimise these occurrences.

The secret to protect yourself and your team from manipulation and harassment claims; to boost your teams performance to unprecedented levels and get unique wisdom as to what really is going in your team relies on the application of Pillar 3 of the 7 Pillars of a Mentally Healthy Workplace.

Pillar 3 is Nothing About Me Without Me.

It is common for teams, due to the pressures of the work environment, to not quite get each other, start competing with each other detrimentally and for distrust to creep into the dynamics of the team. And Distrust is the toxic fume that Pillar 3 – Nothing About Me Without Me, focuses on. As a leader, you want to eradicate from your team any cause for distrust in your team. Both between team members and yourself. Distrust is the cancer of a high performing team. You must get rid of it. But, how do you do that?

Read the other Pillars of Mentally Healthy Workplace….

One thing a lot of managers don’t understand is that, one of the first, if not THE first, thing that suffers when people become distressed and mentally unwell is REAL TRUST in the relationship they have with their boss and with other team members. They don’t lose all trust but they lose trust that their relationship with you and others is robust enough for them to communicate openly and honestly; and they’ve lost trust that you have their back. Most managers miss this. And why wouldn’t they? They are not supposed to know, they are not Mental Health experts. By the way, this is missed by most mental health experts too! This is where Pillar 3 comes in so handy.

Pillar 3 makes the bold but well supported assertion to introduce real transparency into the way you communicate in your team. As an effective way to build trust, it says stop talking about others and bring them into the conversation from very early on.

Great advice.

Usually, when a staff member start showing signs and symptoms that something is not mentally well, many managers panic and go and talk to someone else. It is possible that it may have come to their attention because someone else raised it. And then they proceed to talk to others, maybe HR or their senior supervisor, trying to get direction on what to do. By the time the staff member with the problem is approached, very often others have had robust conversations during which decisions have been made…on the life and career of someone else not present – the staff member in distress. This doesn’t go well in building trust. Why?

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Several reasons:

  • Contributes to the paranoia of the staff member: Who Else Is Talking About Me?
  • Having the person in conversations contributes to transparency
  • Its a sign of respect. Respect shows the person they are valued
  • It protects you from reaching the wrong conclusions about what is really going on. Oftentimes what is going on is not so bad and can be addressed easily if we work together as a team
  • Competency and confidence goes a long way to increase trust in your abilities; and they both get a better chance when aided with transparency

And these are just some of the very good reasons as to why creating a culture of inclusion, Nothing About Me Without Me, can have a positive impact on your attempts to create a mentally healthy culture.

Its a nice and efficient way to let your team know that you have their back and you trust them. When was the last time that happened to you? Felt good, right? That’s what we are encouraging you to do.

At our Workplace Mental Health Masterclass for Leaders, we operationalise this pillar and we show managers how to take their skills to the next level. If you’ve done this Masterclass, you know what we are talking about, right? If you haven’t, I invite you to join us for the next Workplace Mental Health Masterclass for Leaders.

I hope to see you soon and remember to be nice to each other.

Author: Peter Diaz

Peter Diaz is the CEO of Workplace Mental Health Institute. He’s an author and accredited mental health social worker with senior management experience. Having recovered from his own experience of bipolar depression, Peter is passionate about assisting organisations to address workplace mental health issues in a compassionate yet results-focussed way. He’s also a Dad, Husband, Trekkie and Thinker.

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