Category Archives: Psychology

Pivotal-Generation

The Pivotal Generation: How Today’s Teens Will Change the World

Pivotal-GenerationPedro recently was asked for his thoughts on ‘the pivotal generation’ and given perhaps their most defining trait of always being ‘plugged in’ to the internet and social media, what mental health challenges they may face, if any, in the workplace. Following is an excerpt from that interview.

Centennials / Gen Z have been dubbed the “pivotal generation.” Do you agree with that title? What does it mean with regards to teens’ roles in society today?

It’s definitely an interesting title.

There’s no fixed age range, but generally speaking the term ‘Pivotal Generation’ refers to people currently under the age of 18. Why pivotal? Because the research shows they are displaying different patterns of thinking and behaviour to the Gen Y / Millennials before them. And some have suggested that those differences put them in a position to change the world.

In that sense, the Centennials have the opportunity to be pivotal but it’s yet to be seen whether they’ll take on that challenge. As a challenge it’s a big one, and it comes with a lot of responsibility.

What concerns me is whether a whole generation, whose obsession is with branding and personal (not collective) success, is ready to change the world.

That’s an interesting point – do you think today’s teens will in fact change the world?

Yes of course, every generation changes the world, in a sense. They cannot help it. The question is whether it will be an accidental change or an intentional change. The Centennials are in a world full of resources. Will they be able to get together collectively and decide how they want to shape it? There is no evidence to show they are any more willing to do that than previous generations. They are highly motivated for sure, but their focus appears to be on personal success over the collective.

We are at a pivotal moment technologically speaking. How will the human engage and interact with the technological and what impact will it make around the world? We have the option of self annihilation or evolution of the species.

I’d like to think we’ll go for evolution, but there are some indicators we are headed for self annihilation – just look at the increasing suicide rate for example. And that has been linked to an existential crisis magnified through technology like social media. For a species to evolve we need to be more ‘other people’ focussed, not just about ‘me’.

Have we taught the values of compassion and interest in others needed to drive meaningful change to Centennials or are they caught up in their own egocentric search for meaning through material things? And are these drives enough to change society? That remains to be seen.

In the workplace, definitely the pace of change has the potential to be more significant than with any previous generations. There’s a need for innovation. We’re already seeing challenges between Millennials and the older generations with older generations losing out – being slower to learn new technology (generally speaking), less able or willing to show initiative, or to think on their feet and adapt rapidly. They are more wired to an old-school academic mentality of first learning the theory, and following instructions. But that mentality is not able to rewire itself as needed. One exciting thing about Centennials is they live in a world where they do not need established institutions to learn what they need to learn at an expert level. Almost all skills are at their fingertips and they know where and how to get the knowledge.

What would you say are some of the defining characteristics of Gen Z / Centennials?

Certainly we’re generalising here, but I would say they are:

  1. Tech savvy, knowing how to use technology and where to go to find information;
  2. Defining their own way to live, their own kinds of relationships and sexuality;
  3. Focused on ‘success’ and they want it big – and they also have the platforms where that’s possible;
  4. Social media savvy and have their own rules and etiquette for it

How would you say Centennials compare to Millennials, for example mentally, emotionally or socially?

Centennials share the same affinity with technology as Millenials, but this is taken a step further when it comes to the ability to adopt new technologies even faster, and to engage with social media in a more complex way.

In comparison to the Millennials, Centennials in some ways demonstrate a return to the values of the Gen X or Baby Boomers with an emphasis on personal success, ambition, and seemingly materialistic values. Yet they are not restricted in how they go about accomplishing this.

For example, while they are very driven for personal success, Centennials really don’t follow the old patterns of work – Monday to Friday 9-5, or even old styles of entrepreneurship. They can now make a living off of “nothing”. Very intangible stuff, like blogging about a company’s product, for example. This is perfect for the current environment, or perhaps it’s what’s shaping the current environment. Whereas Millennials still have a foot in each door of the old and the new way of working.

The problem I see is that with so much dependence on social media and personal branding, life can become superficial. There can be existential crises when your success is defined by your social media status. But is that really any different from the status of the old days – which was all about climbing the hierarchy in an organisation? At the core, I see the same issues, on a different playing field.

Author: Pedro Diaz
Pedro-Diaz-authorPedro 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, Pedro 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.

Connect with Pedro Diaz on:
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generation-x-1

Are Gen Xers the key to staying sane while managing a multi-generational workforce?

generation-x-1‘The problem with Millennials is that…’ is an expression often heard. Let’s face it, it’s not easy to manage a generation that is more in contact with technology than with people. At least that’s a common opinion. There is often talk about the contribution of Millennials to the workplace and the frustrations many members of other generations experience when working with them.

At the same time, many managers are puzzled by how Generation Xers have merged
seamlessly into a workforce dominated by Baby Boomers.

How did they do that?

The answer may well prove to be the key to keeping you and your team sane as more
generations join the workforce.

On Millennials

In 2016, the Pew Research Center found that Millennials surpassed Baby Boomers as the
largest living generation (in the US). While there is some controversy surrounding the definition of Millennials by the year they were born, one factor in what defines a Millennial remains constant. These are the children who were raised in the current technological age. They do not remember a time without Google, mobile phones, or YouTube. They do not recall a time when they had to rely on books, card catalogs, or encyclopedias for information, but instead feel as though their ability to leverage technology for information gives them a competitive advantage over their older peers.

Baby Boomers, who are more likely to be employed by a company long-term often bemoan the Millennial’s lack of employer loyalty, feeling as though their perpetual need for mobility and purpose work to the disadvantage of an employer who invests training time and capital into their experience.

Meet Generation X

Generation X, on the other hand is much more defined by the years in which this population was born. Often considered the generation born from the 1960’s through the late 1970’s, Generation X currently comprises 32 percent of the workforce, only recently surpassed by Millennials, according to Pew Research Center. Generation X came of age along with the advent of the internet, making them old enough to remember life before we carried minicomputers in our pockets. This singular characteristic makes them more relatable to Boomers while being able to speak the language of technology with Millennials.

As the “sandwich generation”, Gen Xers often find themselves as the go-between for their Millennial and Boomer coworkers.

Baby Boomers

Making up just under 30 percent of the workforce, Baby Boomers are defined as those born after World War II up until 1960. While this sector of the working population are beginning to retire, and are expected to continue to decline in their employment participation, they are working far past traditional retirement years, often in conflict with their Millennial subordinates.

Boomers tend to prefer in person contact and telephone calls rather than electronic means of communication. These are the employees who value loyalty, honesty and work ethic above all else yet they are the group that most often struggles with work/life balance, sometimes neglecting their personal life out of duty to the organisation.

Cross-Generational Friction

If Millennials are defined by their use and reliance on technology and their perceived lack of loyalty, and Boomers are defined by their reliance on tradition and loyalty, it is easy to see why these two groups often find themselves in conflict with each other.

The key to building a cross-generational team that honors the experience of the Boomer while capitalising on the innovation of the Millennial may well lie in the intentional inclusion of the Generation Xer.

Experienced enough to appreciate tradition while young enough to value the usefulness of technology, the Generation X employee is able to bridge the seemingly cavernous gap between the other two generations.

Regardless of the makeup of the cross-generational team, leaders need to invest time in communicating the company’s vision, purpose and strategies to their employees. Understanding how their work contributes to the “big picture” appeals to the typical Millennial’s need to find meaning and value in their work. Understanding the strategic plan allows the Boomer and Generation Xer to capitalise on their experience to put these strategies into effect. And having a common vision helps all members of the cross-generational team to work together for a shared goal.

But bear in mind that this type of communication is not something that can be done once during an annual performance review. It must be infused into all of the leader’s communications, from informal performance reviews to regular staff meetings to corporate electronic communications.

Constant reinforcement of the shared vision allows the team to reconvene under a common
purpose should it be derailed by generational misunderstandings. It also makes room for sanity and growth.

Author: Pedro Diaz
Pedro-Diaz-authorPedro 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, Pedro 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.

Connect with Pedro Diaz on:
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Police Line Do Not Cross

The Rise Of The Senseless Crime – What ’s Mental Health Got To Do With It?

Just a couple of days ago, in Brisbane out of all places, a man approached another man, and set him on fire. When the attacker appeared in court, he’s described as ‘numb’. Then we are informed that this man has a history of mental disorders. Is there a connection? I guess we’ll never know for sure what on earth possesses a man to do something as horrible to another human being but I can tell you one thing: a mental disorder rarely does. But, drugs, any kind of drugs, do.

Police-line-do-not-crossA number of eminent psychiatrists and scientists have been warning us for some time now about the power of drugs, medication in a medical setting, to turn us into ‘unfeeling’, ‘numb’, ‘zombies’. Or as I like to call it, ‘chemically induced psychopathy’.

Drugs can, and often do, impact on our ability to make decisions. Just ask anyone that has ever had a few too many drinks. So do medicines. Am I saying no one should take medicines? Absolutely not. That would make no sense. What I’m saying is that we need to be more aware of their impact on people so we can monitor the effect of medication more closely.

There’s a reason why so many voices are saying that we, as a society, as people, are over medicated. There’s also a reason, and a valid one, why so many voices, educated, experienced voices, are saying that, on the whole, psychiatric drugs, do more harm than good.

Let’s not rush and stop all medication. But let’s take some responsibility and start having an honest conversation.

Author: Pedro Diaz
Pedro-Diaz-authorPedro 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, Pedro 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.

Connect with Pedro Diaz on:
Pedro Diaz on Google Plus Pedro Diaz on Face Book Pedro Diaz on LinkedIn

women with mental health problem

Why 65% of people won’t get help if they have a mental problem

The reasons as to why people do anything, are many and complex. The research shows that around 65% of people won’t even seek treatment if they experience mental distress. The World Health Organization (WHO) says that stigma, discrimination and neglect prevent care and treatment from reaching people with mental disorders. What about the many people in workplaces that don’t have a full blown mental disorder but are at risk? Here we look at three major reasons people have identified as to why they won’t ask for help.

women with mental health problemIt’s just stress. The most common mental disorders (anxiety and depression) tend to be insidious, in that they gradually worsen over time. Many sufferers don’t even realise they have a mental health issue, until it’s been months or even years since they’ve felt happy. It’s convenient for a sufferer to dismiss their situation as temporary or ‘just stress’. But there is a difference between ‘stress’ and something more serious.

Just suck it up. People tend to compare themselves with others, and if everyone else seems fine, then they don’t want to be the exception, or the ‘weak one’. People will compare themselves to their parents who ‘did it tough and never complained’. (The truth is that it’s likely they faced the same issues and felt the same way, it’s just that the conditions were less understood and there weren’t the resources widely available to assist.) It’s also very easy to feel inadequate when you’re seeing all your friends on social media, having a great time and appearing successful, when the reality is, that while few people share their fears and failures for all to see, they most certainly have them. When everyone around you seems to be coping and thriving, the act of admitting you need help and seeking it out can feel like you’ve failed somehow. And a lot of people would rather endure the symptoms than admit they need help.

Career suicide. Numerous surveys from Australia, the UK, US and Canada have shown that people with a mental health problems are unlikely to disclose it to their employer for fear of being treated less favourably. Even employment lawyers have been quoted advising employees to think twice before disclosing. Many employees believe that, if they disclose, they’ll be passed over for project and promotion opportunities, or that their ‘internal brand’ will be tarnished, or that the organisation will take steps to exit them.

As you can see, these are real concerns people have. There’s a need for management to take the lead and address these concerns lest them become part of the culture.

If you’d like Workplace Mental Health Institute to run the Suicide Prevention Skills course in your workplace, please Call us on (02) 8935 3885 or take the comprehensive self paced online course.

Author: Pedro Diaz
Pedro-Diaz-authorPedro 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, Pedro 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.

Connect with Pedro Diaz on:
Pedro Diaz on Google Plus Pedro Diaz on Face Book Pedro Diaz on LinkedIn

Addressing Stigma

How can I address stigma in the workplace about mental health?

According to the studies, 9 out of 10 people experience some kind of discrimination in relation to mental health, and one in 10 employees have resigned as a result of feeling unsupported with a mental health condition.

Many people think that the key to addressing stigma about mental health is to run some awareness campaigns – put on a morning tea, maybe put some posters up, get people talking about mental health. And to a degree, that’s right. It is a good idea to raise awareness about mental health, start to make it OK to have a conversation about it.

Addressing StigmaBUT, in our experience training hundreds of organisations around Australia, those workplaces where stigma exists need a lot more than just some ‘awareness’ activities.

In these environments, if awareness activities are run without a proper educational program to support it, or a longer term action plan in place, they can often be ridiculed, resulting in the completely opposite effect than what was intended in the first place! The well meaning HR Manager has put a lot of effort into this activity, but it doesn’t have the desired effect long term.

And then there’s the education itself. Training needs to be more than just providing information about mental health, it needs to be designed and delivered in such a way that it actually shifts attitudes. It must touch the individual people in the room, as human beings not just as their job title. It has to move them to build empathy for their colleagues, and help them to face their fears in talking about mental health.

After all, the majority of people who are stigmatising or making jokes about people with mental health issues, do so because they are uncomfortable with the topic themselves. Maybe they have had their own experiences themselves, or been through something with a friend or family member. Whatever the case is, the person stigmatizing is usually not a bad person, they wouldn’t mean to hurt someone else, they’re just struggling with how to respond emotionally. And when you have someone who is socially influential who is in that space, its not long before other colleagues follow suit and before you know it the workplace environment is one where people do not feel safe to reach out for help. And when that happens, people bottle it up, don’t get help, and often there can be very dire, sometimes fatal consequences.

We’ve been to workplaces like this where it is only after someone has taken their life that colleagues respond with ‘I never saw it coming’.

And this is just one of the reasons why we strongly encourage workplaces who have this problem to make sure they couple their ‘awareness campaign’ with some solid, transformational education, over a period of time. You are looking to change culture after all, and that takes a series of consistent actions over time.

Author: Pedro Diaz
Pedro-Diaz-authorPedro 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, Pedro 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.

Connect with Pedro Diaz on:
Pedro Diaz on Google Plus Pedro Diaz on Face Book Pedro Diaz on LinkedIn

programming_light_candle_671658_l

7 Ways To Enhance Hope

One of the common themes that emerges from stories of people who have recovered from mental illness, is that of Hope. In studies of consumer recovery stories, it has been found that having Hope for a better future is a major, if not essential element of recovery.

So, how do we help engender hope for someone living with mental illness? Here are 7 ways you can help a person find hope for their recovery.

1. Have Hope Yourself

We must first hold the hope that a person can recovery, even if they themselves do not. Even beyond ‘hope’, have a certainty that Recovery is possible. While we can never know for sure what the future will hold for a person, it definitely won’t happen if they don’t believe it is possible.
Candle

2. Say it

It sounds so simple, but many people have been told that they will always have a mental illness, that their condition is ‘chronic’ and that they cannot expect any better, essentially ‘this is as good as it gets’. Simply saying ‘recovery is possible’, can have a huge impact.

3. Look at the Statistics

There are plenty of longitudinal studies that show that over time, up to 68% of people will experience either total (clinical) recovery or significant improvements which are considered ‘psychological’, or ‘personal’ recovery. Those studies also show that we cannot predict which people will experience this recovery based on the severity of their symptoms at any one time. It doesn’t matter how bad it seems, Recovery can happen for anyone.

4. Look at Others who have Recovered

For some people, the statistics may not be enough, but actually seeing, reading about, or meeting people who have recovered from mental illness can be a very powerful experience, and help them to have hope for their own future.

5. Help Create a Vision

Snyder and colleagues have studied Hope and found that there are 3 components of hope. The first is that people must have something to be hopeful for. As practitioners, we can help people to consider some of the things they would like to have for their life. Exploring personal values, what is important to the person can help them to identify a picture of how they would like their life to be (see next month’s newsletter for ways to explore values).

6. Set some Goals

It has been said ‘the tragedy in life does not lie in not achieving goals, but in having no goal to reach’. Sometimes we worry about setting people up for failure. While it is important to consider the timeframes we place on our goals, we do need to have something to strive towards. Research has shown that simply having a goal improves wellbeing, whether or not the person achieves it.

7. Build Self Confidence

The third of Snyder’s components of Hope is ‘agency’. This is the person’s own belief that they can achieve their goal. You can build agency by helping the person to identify all the things they have accomplished in the past. Help the person make a list, a song, or a drawing about those achievements. Ask them what their strengths are, or use strength cards, to help them identify their own internal and external resources.

Hopefully, we have given you some new ideas on how to help a person find Hope for recovery from mental illness. Do send us an email at admin@wmhi.com.au to let us know how you go with these ideas, or if you have any others to suggest.

Smiles,

Author: Pedro Diaz
Pedro-Diaz-authorPedro 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, Pedro 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.

Connect with Pedro Diaz on:
Pedro Diaz on Google Plus Pedro Diaz on Face Book Pedro Diaz on LinkedIn

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