Understanding and reducing anxiety is on the agenda at Swindon Mindful Employer

By Anita Jaynes on 8 December, 2017

“Anxiety: what employers need to know” is an event being staged by the Swindon Mindful Employer Network on Tuesday March 6, at DoubleTree by Hilton Swindon. 

Many employers are reporting an increase in sickness absence as a result of anxiety, and is now seen as a matter of concern to businesses along with stress and depression.

Guest speaker will be Melanie Richens of the UK College of Personal Development, who is also the current Chair of the network. Melanie has coached and trained individuals at all levels to improve personal performance, to aid career progression and unlock personal potential enabling people to achieve their maximum capabilities.

Her first career was as a lawyer, becoming a partner in a top 100 law firm and latterly Director of People. Melanie is now following her passion for developing people enabling them to perform at their peak and removing barriers to success through a combination of coaching and training.

Melanie has been voluntary Chair of the Swindon Mindful Employer Network since 2009 and has played a significant part in the growth and development of the popular Swindon initiative.  The network will celebrate its 10th anniversary in 2018.

Melanie said: “I have chaired many of the network meetings over the last 9 years and it will be great to be guest speaker on a topic which is close to my heart. According to the Mental Health Foundation anxiety affects around 16% of the population at any one time. In the workplace stress and anxiety are the second most reported ill-health conditions after musculo-skeletal problems.  This means having an understanding of what anxiety is, its causes, and how to manage it has never been more important for employers.

Our brains have evolved with a hard-wired protection mechanism, sometimes called the flight or fight response. It is an instinctive response which bypasses and over-rides the thinking mind. In situations of mortal danger, even a split second taken to logically analyse the risk and decide on an appropriate reaction may be fatal. This is great when we are in a dangerous situation when immediate action is required, but anxiety is slightly different. I often refer to anxiety as “fear with the luxury of time”, what I mean by this is that there is no immediate danger, we are imagining a future negative/fearful event and experiencing the symptoms of the fear now.  The trouble is, there is nothing in the present to fight or flee from so there is no outlet for the fight or flight, we are just left with the effect – Anxiety.

In my experience working with people, just knowing that what they are having is a completely normal physiological response is often enough to break the anxiety cycle and prevent a negative internal dialogue developing. The only question then is how best to manage it.”

David Latham, who has led the network since its formation commented: “Melanie has been a brilliant supporter of the network over the years and I am delighted she is taking charge of this session on anxiety. Feedback received from local employers suggested we needed to focus on this matter quite urgently. I would encourage businesses to get involved and send delegates to this fascinating event.”

Adam Flint, General Manager of the DoubleTree by Hilton Swindon, which is supporting the event added:“We are very pleased to welcome back the Swindon Mindful Employer Network to the DoubleTree by Hilton Swindon. This is one of the liveliest and well attended business networks in the town which focusses on some very relevant issues around mental health in the workplace – which right now is a hot topic ! These are superb learning opportunities and I am looking forward to hearing from Melanie and the team. I will certainly recommend this session to all local employers.”

This Swindon network is funded by Public Health at Swindon Borough Council.

Places for this event are available for representatives of employers in the Swindon and surrounding area only. Booking is essential.

For more information about this event please contact:  smen@swindonmind.org

Pictured above: Melanie Richens, guest speaker at the next Swindon Mindful Employer event