Anxiety can be seen at play in most architectural offices – whether because of a deadline, a presentation or a tricky client meeting. Most of us get anxious at one time or another.
Coaching is often about reducing stress and anxiety at work. Offering a safe, confidential and judgment-free environment to talk can sometimes be enough. With coaching, we work out ways of upping resiliency, developing support structures, finding options, shifting state, and moving forwards. Coaching can help restore an over-anxious architect back into being calm, confident and in control again.*
Anxiety is often just a temporary affliction. But when it gets to be excessive, persistent and affecting your everyday life, it gets to be a right royal pain in the butt. Sometimes our obligations and expectations can feel overwhelming and impossible to meet. Sometimes we view our situation as never-ending or impossible to get out of.
I came across this headline:
- Guardian Headline, 2016
But it’s not just students who are suffering, is it?
Sleeping badly, avoidance measures, drinking excessively, negative rumination; anxiety and stress can affect us all in different ways. Most of us like to think we are pretty tough, yet you might have heard the statistic that three-quarters of all suicides in the UK are male. This generation is still under the influence of ‘silent strong providers’ who say ‘man up and get on with it”. It doesn’t mean that they don’t care but it does mean they are less likely to talk about it.
Personally, I have suffered from both anxiety and depression. Once a difficult colleague caused me enough stress that I threw up every morning before work. With anti-anxiety medication I moved on, but not without unnecessary emotional and physical toll. Another time, depression. My employer, it seemed, wasn’t too worried about my emotional state as long as my productivity was still normal.
On the flip side, in my early NZ career, I approached a boss to talk about personal stress (my father was dying of cancer). On the verge of melt-down, I needed a holiday and quick. His response was a plane ticket to Australia – that afternoon. A week later I was back, and in a more resilient emotional position. He goes down in the boss hall of fame.
Mental illness can affect anyone, including confident, successful, solid, dependable people, just like you and me. No, you don’t want to appear weak or to let down the team or to let yourself down for that matter (and gosh, you architects do tend to have high expectations of yourselves!).
I’d like to see architects talk more openly about mental illness. I’d like to see architects ask for emotional support, not just technical support. I’d like reviews to take into account people’s emotional state and not just their performance level.
RIBA doesn’t offer a CPD on mental health, but they should. We could all do with practice on how to respond to a colleague who presents anxiety or depression. We need to know about the resources that are available to us. We need to be vigilant for the signs and ready to give support. How do you feel?
· Is talking about anxiety, depression, and mental illness at work still a taboo subject?
· Would you feel comfortable enough to bring up mental health as an issue?
· Do you think you would get the support you need?
· Would you feel able to provide such support to a colleague?
Would you like to find out more about how Coaching can benefit you? Give me a call or email me to discuss your challenge today.
*My coaching is performed under the ethical requirements of the International Coaching Federation. A client presenting mental health issues beyond set coaching boundaries will be referred to appropriate experts.