By Karen Amos

I’ve just listened to an excellent episode of ‘Ramblings’ on Radio 4, where Clare Balding discussed mental health in business with an ex-CFO of a FTSE 250 company. He explained how he had experienced depression all his life, but felt he had to hide this in his workplace, as to disclose this would have been detrimental to his career.

He also discussed his lifelong tendency to focus on the negative – something I’m sure most of us have suffered from at some point. A classic example of this is ignoring the 99% positive feedback in your performance review and just hearing the 1% that could have been better.

Whilst there is a difference in the interventions needed to help people who are experiencing mental ill-health, there was a clear acknowledgement that there was a need to discuss areas of concern, performance and difficulties faced in the workplace. This is necessary to proactively prevent mental illness and promote wellbeing and build positive performance.

The assumption is that men find it more difficult to talk about themselves. My experience as an executive and professional development coach however, is that just as many women face the same fears and challenges. Surely, being able to do this should be seen as a strength, but many of my clients will not disclose to others that they are receiving coaching for fear of being perceived as ‘weak’ or ‘under-performing’.

At the end of the programme Clare Balding asked the man if he would have any problem engaging with a sports coach to enhance his performance on the field. Without hesitation he said, ‘No’. The implication is that this is seen as a positive move. The question then was, ‘Why then are so many people reluctant to seek the same help in the workplace?’ That support exists – it’s also called a coach!

What’s your stance on engaging someone to help your peformance at work? Are you prepared to speak candidly with someone, in confidence about your work performance, or does this feel ‘unsafe’ for you?

Karen Amos is an executive and professional development coach and training and the owner of BrightBird Coaching & Training.  If you’d like to find out more about how Karen can help you and your team to be more positive and productive, get in touch for a no-obligation chat.  Call on 07714 855757, or email