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posted on 11th July 2018 by Rebecca sander

Mental health is becoming one of the most important issues in our lives; one in four people will suffer from some kind of mental health problem in our lifetime, and thankfully it is becoming more and more normalised to discuss how your mental health is affecting your life.

One of the places where mental health is struggling to find acceptance still however is in the workplace. I personally have made bogus excuses for calling in sick to work when in fact it was depression rearing its ugly head again, because it can be so scary to admit that you’re struggling, particularly when it’s to your employer who you always want to show your best side to. But there’s nothing unprofessional about suffering from a mental health problem, and this is something Sanctus is trying to help everyone understand.

They bring mental health work directly to the workplace, working with companies providing spaces for employees to come in and talk about whatever they like and whatever they’re struggling with, wherever you are on your mental health journey. By bringing the conversation into the workplace and therefore normalising it, they want to help employees make mental health a part of their workplace culture. Sanctus’ philosophy is that mental health is like physical health; you need to practice and exercise both to fully live your best life. That’s why they call themselves “the mental health gym” and their employees Coaches.

As well as providing coaching onsite they encourage companies to sign a pledge showing their dedication to opening up mental health space in their company, and provide a practical framework to doing so (so it’s not just an empty promise). It started when founder James wrote about his experience in a startup creating a business for himself:

“People do not talk about mental health enough, that’s a fact. And I believe startup culture is exacerbating this problem, by encouraging people to work themselves into the ground, ’sleep faster’ and move quicker. We might be happy to wear a plaster on our heads for a cut, but we won’t tell people about how we’re burning ourselves out. It’s wrong and something needs to change.”

His post resonates with a lot of people; as more and more people become entrepreneurs, freelancers and self employed, there’s a lot more individual pressure weighing on all of us to succeed and compete in a crowded marketplace. Add to this the comparison anxiety that comes with watching other people seem to succeed to effortlessly on social media, forgetting that they’re only presenting the very best version of themselves and non the moments they’re sat in their pants dipping bread in a pot noodle.

Sanctus creates a space where people can voice these problems, and it’s beneficial to the company too - if people are looking after their mental health, they won’t need to take mental health days as much, and the company is more productive. It just makes sense for everyone, so hopefully more and more companies take Sanctus into their physical space to help their mental space. And hopefully they can expand further into smaller companies and maybe independent cafes in Peckham, where stressed-out freelance writers work to pay for their side-hustles? Just a suggestion.

Written by Rebecca Sander

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