According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 300 million people across the world suffer from depression, many of whom are crippled by anxiety and related illnesses. Indeed, a recent study led by the agency estimated that this costs the global economy a trillion US dollars a year and urged businesses to look beyond the bottom line and recognise the adverse effects fostered by a working environment which does not prioritise the psychological well-being of its employees.
To this end, the study encouraged the implementation of actions which promote mental health in the workplace and, thus, improve productivity. “Mental health is the silent destroyer in the workforce,” states Sharon Cusens, a change management consultant, and the Director of Spring Productions International, an enterprise operating Spring Coaching, “an academy for inner excellence”, which provides programmes giving employees a crash course in self-management skills through “an innovative emotional navigational system”. According to the founder, “the emotional and mental wellbeing of employees must become a priority for all businesses” since, if staff feels happy and empowered, productivity and satisfaction will increase.
“It’s a win-win situation,” she underlines, going on to emphasise the importance of a “bottom-up” approach in ensuring corporate success across the board. She describes psychological balance as key to mitigating against the risks of “reduced productivity, insurance costs and increased absences” since “mental disorders are the top reason for not going to work.” By identifying the problem, she explains, whether this is “stress at the workplace, lack of sleep, or something more personal”, and by addressing the resultant issues, the individual is better able to handle “daily challenges more creatively and efficiently, as well as shape the future courageously.”
The programmes offered by Spring Coaching aim to tackle these issues. “I am a psychology graduate and I wanted to simplify what I had learnt and pass it on to others so that they can, effectively, be their own coach and transform their personal and professional lives positively. So, our programmes coach self-management skills, empowerment and mental resilience, and we also encourage people to become the change if they cannot alter the situation. This is particularly the case in life-challenging circumstances, when you simply need to learn how to cope so as not to be engulfed by anxiety and trauma,” she specifies.
Launched four years ago, initially as a five-day retreat mainly catering to the German market, the EU-funded Spring Coaching has since grown, and is now being introduced locally, intending to aid organisations fulfil their Corporate Social Responsibility targets. Such duty-of-care is recognised as a priority in the local economy and is being actively encouraged by means of tax rebates with the precise figure dependant on the number of employees on the firm’s payroll.
The academy’s three coaching programmes, led by the founder as well as “an educational psychologist and several life coaches”, add up to 15 hours of coaching. The first, referred to as Positive Change, pushes attendees to open their eyes to “their emotional mechanism”, enabling them to master life challenges and to “let a new inner strength grow”, encouraging a life which is “stable, powerful and relaxed again”, Ms Cusens explains.
Following these sessions, participants will be aware of how to bring positive change in their lives, effectively becoming their own coach, Ms Cusens continues. The other two programmes follow the same pattern: New Momentum outlines the importance of “practising a new mental fitness”, encouraging participants to “elevate themselves to inner strength, develop their passion for work and their personal life substantially”, while Inner Excellence reiterates the importance of “maximising your full potential” by helping “to restore your inner compass, to renew your inner excellence, mental strength and authentic personality in a short time.” These can all be done through individual sessions or in a group, Ms Cusens continues, but they all have the same common goal: to affect positive change within the individual and, by extension, to companies themselves.
“We want to encourage participants to move forward and our methodology is in line with that. We refer to it as our ‘onion in the kitchen’ and, just as an onion can be fried, baked, steamed or even eaten raw, elevating different dishes, our approaches can be adapted to different perspectives and needs, talking to people coming from different starting points in their lives,” Ms Cusens explains.
Moreover, the programmes can be tailor-made, and Ms Cusens strives to bring her professional skills as a former strategic planner – a role in which she oversaw the operations of a 55-strong orthopaedic centre in Germany – to bear on ensuring quality. “And, if an individual actually needs more intense work, then we refer them to a psychotherapist, so we strive to offer a holistic service,” she underlines.
Indeed, the emphasis, throughout, is on building sustainable mental stability, coaching how to cope with change and adaptability, by using an innovative approach which “combines modern psychology, traditional life philosophy and new ways inspired by the healing arts.” It also aims to efficiently target modern ailments, such as stress, trauma and burnout, thus “reigniting the spark needed to achieve your full potential,” Ms Cusens says.
The Founder’s personal experience also enables her to prioritise the human element in all interactions and within the workshops, she continues. “I started this since I was going through a life-challenging situation myself and I decided to change myself in order to meet the demands of what circumstance had thrown at me. A lot of people were inspired, and I decided to put what I had learnt into a professional package.”
Finally, she also emphasises the importance of motivation on behalf of all participants. “What doesn’t grow, dies! We’re looking for people who are driven to empower themselves. There has to be intrinsic motivation. Otherwise, it just won’t work. We plant the seed within participants but then it’s up to each individual to water it and make it grow,” she smiles.
This interview originally appeared in The Commercial Courier