Octopus offers all employees access to free mental health coaching. As part of our mental wellness series, we asked George Bell of Sanctus to explain what people should expect from the experience.
People don’t talk about mental health enough, and when they do, it’s usually with stigma attached. At Sanctus, we believe start-up 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, because our lack of understanding, combined with our inability to put a label on what we may be experiencing, is making life even harder.
Here at Sanctus, we’re working hard to remove the stigma around mental health, and helping to educate everyone on what good mental health really means. Mental health shouldn’t conjure up images of white gowns and straitjackets in our heads. Mental health should have as much publicity as our physical health does, potentially even more. But to get there, we think it’s important to let people know what to expect if they decide to work on their mental health.
What does a Sanctus session look like?
At Sanctus, we give people a room and qualified coach, and 45 minutes to talk about whatever is on their mind. It might sound simple, but how often do we give ourselves a specified period of time while at work to just be ourselves?
Each Sanctus coaching session is a private one-on-one conversation. It’s a space where you can explore and reflect on your personal mental wellbeing. Booking a 45-minute session gives you the freedom to speak about whatever is on your mind. You can talk about that project at work you’re finding difficult, your relationships or even how to get on better with the person at the desk next to you. Whatever you choose to talk about, you’re in a safe space where no judgements are made.
What you use the session for is entirely up to you
Above all else, the coaching session is your space to decide what type of support you need and how working with a coach will benefit you the most. The session is open for you to explore whatever is on your mind. It’s not always the right space to work on something, but it’s a great first port of call to explore. The more you invest in the relationship, and the more you try to share experiences, the more likelihood of getting something positive and meaningful out of your sessions.
What we don’t do
We understand it can feel risky talking about this stuff in the workplace. What if something gets back to my manager? What will my team think? These are all common questions that people ask themselves before attending a coaching session.
So, it’s important to remember that Sanctus coaches are independent. We’re not here to deliver feedback on employee happiness to your company’s senior management and we’re not here to work specifically on your professional performance. We won’t be marking you out of ten after your session is finished. We exist purely to give employees a place to let off steam or share what’s going well. Everything you say to a Sanctus coach is 100% confidential unless you tell us you intend to cause harm to yourself or someone else. What you use the space for is up to you.
Still unsure how to get started?
If you’d like a few prompts, here are some things to think about:
- Get in touch with what you feel like you need today. If you could label your overall mood today, what would it be? What has contributed to this? What thoughts are going on?
- Do you have a challenge or feeling that is on your mind? Sanctus can be a great place to explore specific issues and find ways to move forward. Whether you want to drop in regularly, or every now and again, use the space in a way that’s best for you.
- Personal issues, or feelings of anxiety/depression, struggles with life choices and transitions, relationship issues, or even experiences of loss and grief are all things you can bring (in total confidence) to a Sanctus session.
- Is there anything specific you’d like to get better at? How about something that you feel like is holding back? Remember our work and personal lives frequently overlap. Your coach can help you work on this.
Why should I go to Sanctus?
There’s no magic pill for your mental health. One coaching session is unlikely to be the silver bullet to solve all of your problems. At Sanctus we believe you don’t need to be told, fixed or shoved into some framework. With guidance, however, you can grow change and adjust in any way you want.
You don’t need to have a big issue weighing you down or a crisis in order to come along. We believe everyone has mental health and that we should have the space to share and reflect before things get too much for us. That said, Sanctus sessions can also identify areas in which you may need more in-depth support. If that’s the case, our coaches can point you in the direction of further help other than Sanctus.
Don’t forget: you’re one of a kind
Everyone’s experience of Sanctus is different. What I get out of Sanctus is probably very different to what you get out of it. However, if you commit to Sanctus and working with your coach, you will learn more about yourself and you’ll become more mindful. You might have some big breakthroughs and really grow as a person, or you may work through some challenges in your life.
Think of Sanctus like a relationship, not a service. The more you put into it, the more you’ll get out of it. For more information, please visit the Sanctus website.