People often talk about networking in the career sense; collaboration, market knowledge, the inevitable LinkedIn showcasing and meet and greets at industry events. But people don’t talk so much about a network to look after yourself, despite industry becoming wise to the millions of dollars we lose every year to mental health issues. Maybe it’s time that changed.
I’ve had various mental health events in my life, and thanks to having the right people around me and getting to know myself so I can recognise my own warning signs, I believe I’m a stronger person. The process has also meant I am able to better help others. Recently, KPMG gave me the courage and support to talk a bit more about my own experiences and to help promote a worthy cause: RUOK Day. Being open about my own experiences wasn’t something I ever imagined I’d do outside of a very close knit group of friends – but I’m learning this might benefit others.
There is an often-used phrase I think is particularly apt in the mental health space – inaction breeds fear. Not doing anything about your own mental health, or not reaching out to someone who you suspect is struggling, is a worst case scenario. Being pro-active reduces fear and instils a feeling of hope. You may already know this, but when you’re in a bad situation or over-thinking something, there is enormous power in normalising that feeling.
I remember at a particularly dark time, somebody telling me it was all ok, what was happening could happen to anyone, and in fact it was normal to feel this way. In that moment, I felt like a million dollars because of those effective words. Supporting yourself with the right network gives you the option of intercepting the momentum of a problem. Cutting through the panic or halting the escalation of fear can be pivotal and all of this is easier when you know who your network really is.
RUOK has a very important message behind it: listen, don’t judge. Some issues are simple and can be resolved quickly with the right support, but others are complex and require patience and sustained support to work through. In the age of social media where the appearance of career, personal and family success via photo sharing can be everywhere, a sense of objectivity is good in your mental health network. There are times you need to recognise life is just going a bit too fast, and other times where it may be crucial to recognise signals of a deeper issue. One thing is for sure, it’s hardly ever as bad as you think.
At KPMG we talk about the concept of being authentic in everything we do. Mental health sits close to this important concept. A culture supportive of being open about who you are and what made you that way are absolutely crucial. You never know when the important conversation you’ve been meaning to have with someone might make a huge difference.
If this post has raised any issues with you, please call one of these support lines to talk with someone.
Lifeline: 13 11 14
Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636 or chat online