Let’s Talk Mental Health and Stigma with Mark Butler

me&my health up podcast episode #57 – Transcript

Anthony Hartcher 0:01
Welcome to another insightful episode, and in particular, an exciting episode of Me& My Health Up with your host Anthony Hartcher. A healthy man according to my children, aka clinical nutritionist and lifestyle medicine specialist.

The purpose of this podcast is to enhance and enlighten your well being and today we’ll be chatting with the number one international bestseller, co-author of What the hell do we do now?

Mental health expert and strategist, clinical specialist trainer, facilitator, certified resilience Coach Mark Butler drumroll bing bing bing bing mean. We’re talking about stigma and mental health Mark helps leaders to be able to talk about mental health in a meaningful way, combining his clinical and commercial experience. Marks works to upskill leaders to promote open and caring conversations, create psychologically safe spaces, effectively reduce stigma around mental health and get in front of those issues that hinder peak performance.

So welcome, Mark Butler. How are you today?

Mark Butler 1:17
Very good indeed. Thanks, Anthony. How were you? That was a mouthful, sorry about that. I should have probably edited my bio a little bit.

Anthony Hartcher 1:26
It says I think the words Yeah. Anyway, we’ll be chatting more about how experienced you are in this field, and how much you’ve been able to help society and companies and individuals better their mental health.

So I’m really keen to get started. And I think we best to start with a question I always ask my guests is, how have you arrived at what you’re doing today? I’d love to hear your story.

Mark Butler 1:56
Cool. Okay, well, um, so as you alluded to, in my bio, I 25 years or more corporate and commercial experience, I worked in, in international organizations, as well as smaller individual independent organizations in the area, mostly of entertainment, film, and television, that sort of space, I worked for Richard Branson back in the very late 80s, early 90s.

You know, his approach to work life balance was, you know, decades ahead of its time. Prior to that, it was, you know, you’re at your desk at 9 am, etc, etc. But his line always looked like, you don’t care when you work as long as the work gets done and so I was able to experience what that was like, and then went from that then into international space, working for international Hollywood studios, etc.

When you’re awake, you’re working, that kind of mentality. experienced some burnout, I was a sales director for an organization way back then, you know, a budget of a million dollars a day sort of thing. So it was high-pressure, high-stakes stuff. But my learning from that, see that experience of burnout was I went and studied some mental health, just kind of a personal journey.

But I followed my nose, and I’ve ended up here now, a couple of master’s degrees, a bunch of other qualifications, and I work in the clinical space, as much as I do working in the corporate space. So I do a lot of strategies, building strategic plans and processes for organizations large and small around the globe, but at the same time, I also still keep my hand in the clinical space, I think that’s where I’m most alive, I think, is working with somebody who is struggling and you’re needing a guiding hand if you like. And so I do that as the clinical director of a high end, highly discreet exclusive facility up here in the Northern Rivers, and at the same time, do quite a bit of pro bono work with veterans with PTSD and substance abuse and that so that’s kind of you know, so when you read out my bio, yeah, I actually I know that I listened to myself.

I’m, I’ve got fingers in a number of pies, and yeah, pretty busy. So it’s, that’s how I’ve ended up here, live experience and wanting to do a bit more with it, and not just sort of have my journey help it to be others as well.

Anthony Hartcher 4:37
That’s fantastic. How the, you know, how you experience some burnout, some mental health challenges and you know, so you thought about, you know, how can I correct this and that now you’re out there educating others and supporting others so that they essentially prevent the burnout or the mental health challenge or struggles or those that are experiencing that can how to how can I guess the workplace create a space that they can come forward and seek help.

That’s pretty much where I wanted to, you know, have a chat with you today about is that stigma that’s so strongly attached to mental health, and it’s embedded in our fabric, as a society, that, you know, we can’t express vulnerability, if we express vulnerability were weak and, you know, we need to put on a strong front, even though if we’re struggling, and that, as you know, you know, from your own personal experience, and, you know, I can vouch from my personal experience, that that’s not the best approach to, you know, guess recovering from a mental health challenge.

And, you know, the statistics will show that you know, the majority of people will experience during their lifetime, a mental health challenge. So really keen to explore this type of topic of stigma, vulnerability, and first of all, what is it? You know, why is it so problematic? And I guess, thirdly, what can we do about it to change this stigma associated with mental health?

Mark Butler 6:11
Yeah, stigma is a really interesting area, because we can also when we talk about stigma, talk about shame. Yeah, and, and that sort of shame that people feel when they believe that somebody else sees them in as less than, or sees them as somehow not quite part of the team, or that it’s a weakness of some kind.

And whether it’s, the stigma is actually real, or whether the individual perceives it to be real, like, if they’re just making it up in their own head, well, then it exists for them in some way, shape, or form, the level of stigma that they’re experiencing is enough to prevent them from reaching out. I did, and so and usually, what’s stopping them from reaching out and looking for some support and help is that sense of shame that I’m less than, or I’m wrong, or a week or something like that.

I remember years ago, in my training, being in a sort of a training program with an expert called Dr. Robert Lee, he’s an expert on shame and I remember asking him at the time, what’s the opposite of shame? You know, obviously, the opposite of happier, sad, etc, etc. But so what’s the opposite of shame then? And I was thinking, is it pride? And he said, no, it’s actually belonging.

So so when we feel shame, or when we feel stigmatized, we’ll go on to retreat into ourselves and we, we isolated, we hide, or we withdraw, and we don’t seek the sort of help that we actually need and to get yourself from there, to seeking help requires an element of, well, it’s actually vulnerability, but it’s dressed up as courage, I think because we’re putting ourselves out in the line and we’re really saying, you know, here I am, I’m, I’m injured, or I’m less than, and I’m needing some support and some help.

And their society itself seems to, on some level, we talk about Yeah, you know, it’s terrible, people should be able to reach out for more help but yet at the same time, so many people in society will walk past homeless people, they fear them, there’s, we’re kind of xenophobic if you like, and we fear something we don’t know or don’t understand.

Now, as we’re recording this, we’re coming up on ANZAC Day and a prime example of this comes up for me when I think about the reverence and respect and gratitude we have for veterans is some of the best in the world. I think the US does it as well, obviously, but we do we, you know, we acknowledge and we respect and we commemorate them every year, and if a veteran is struggling with post-traumatic stress or some injuries from their active service, even more so.

But as soon as a Veteran starts to will say, drink or take some drugs or gets sort of addicted to their medical, their pain medications. As soon as that happens, we start to as a society, in many cases, start to look at that as being less than Okay, so now they’re the drunk or they’re the junkie or that you know, and all they’ve done resorts to a coping strategy that’s going to get them through the day, but we’ve added this thing in now that they’re sort of less than and they’re dirty, and we know the media has to take some share the blame for that, but we as individuals start to sort of fear somebody who’s in that space rather than having even more or greater concern and compassion for them.

So that’s what happens with society, we start to, we start to look at people differently because we don’t maybe understand where they’re at and when we start to do that, that’s when people are going to feel stigmatized.

Anthony Hartcher 10:17
Okay, so that’s a really good point, you know, you mentioned this xenophobia can this. You know, we just, we sort of we, you know, we walk past that homeless person, and is it because we’re not tooled with how we could help them? We don’t have that, you know, education, that ability to be able to connect with that person, and then just, you know, essentially, listen and talk to them and, and just have a conversation is this where, you know, that I guess the problem is, is that we’re just not trained, you know, in our school system? That we don’t, you know, hence, we can’t cope, and why our coping mechanism is to walk away?

Mark Butler 11:04
Yeah, yeah. Look, I think it is. That’s a large part of it. I’m reminded, as you say that there’s a ton of research that has been done around what are the elements of somebody sort of recovering from, we’ll say, a mental health issue? What are the things that are likely going to support them?

So we talked when we talk about that we talk about sort of the efficacy of their recovery and I wish I could show you a pie chart on here. So you’ll just have to imagine it 40% of the likelihood of somebody recovering from a mental health issue is based around the support that they’ve got in the community.

So like their family, the workmates, the sort of local community, it could be their flatmates. It could be their friends, it could be, as I say, the work environment. So 40% of the likelihood of somebody getting better is predicated on that support. 30% is predicated on their sense of hope that they can get better. Now, of course, that 30%, and that hope is going to be influenced by the support base that they’ve got around them. So if you add the two of those together, we’re now looking at 70% of the likelihood of somebody recovering from a mental health issue before they’ve had any treatment, or before they’ve seen the doctor before they’ve got medication, or they’ve seen a psychiatrist or a psychologist.

And the remaining 30% is split actually between the sort of therapeutic sort of relationship if you like that they develop with them with their mental health care team, and then 15% comes around the sort of medication they’ve got or the therapy that they get, but we can see here when we if they have if we have the support of people around us, and the belief that this is, you know, this can change, hugely influenced ability to actually recover and get better.

And I talk about that when I’m talking about or talking to organizations and training leaders up to be able to have these conversations because that that flows out into the general public when somebody is upskilled in that and suddenly isn’t afraid to sort of sit and have a conversation with somebody.

That doesn’t just happen in work that flows out to their family into their community as well and that permeates and everybody sorts of gets the advantage of that, and we could even talk about suicide, and nothing scares us more than having to talk to somebody who’s suicidal, but in actual fact, it’s not that difficult. If you know what to say the right things to say, and there’s really only a couple of questions. I talk about that a lot as well, but in terms of somebody feeling, some sense of shame or embarrassment, around actually reaching out for help, it’s magnified when they’re in that space, it can be difficult enough, at the best of time.

But when they’re in that space, when they’re feeling less than or feeling they might be judged or feeling or abandoned or rejected, in some way, shape, or form. It takes an enormous amount of courage to say no, I’m going to push through this and I’m going to ask for help.

Anthony Hartcher 14:18
Yeah, so I’m, what I’m hearing is, you know, the solution or the point of help is really giving that person that sense of belonging, or providing that community or you know, and bringing them along and making them feel part of something bigger because I’m thinking that homeless person lying in the street, all they see all day is people walking past them and not even acknowledging them.

Mark Butler 14:49

Anthony Hartcher 14:49
And so that just as you said, as you said, it just magnifies the shame within, and so, you know, it amplifies their feeling and I’m just thinking it’s a Same as the work colleague in the workplace, if they’re feeling down, they’re probably thinking, Why doesn’t anyone gather that is not my normal self today? You know, why isn’t anyone coming up and asking me? Is there anything wrong?

You know, and they’re waiting for someone to approach them with that conversation and because people just continue on with their day, they’re feeling more shame and thinking, Oh, it’s just me, it’s my problems, not no one else’s, and, you know, and then that makes them, you know, I guess further withdraw and thinking, you know, the problem is them.

And so, I think it’s really, you know, it’s a two way street, isn’t it in the sense that as much as the individual needs to find that courage within, and break the shame and come out of their shell. The other one, the other side, the people that can help these people that are suffering from mental health can help break down that barrier by approaching them and just simple “Are you okay?” And creating that space?

And it really is, because I’m thinking the other thing that probably amplifies this in society, is, everyone’s so busy with so much on their mind running around, and that person that’s feeling vulnerable, and you know, struggling, is thinking, I don’t want to add to their already busyness and, you know, the creative problem for them to deal with.

Mark Butler 16:26
Yeah. Yeah, that’s huge, that’s it, that’s a huge problem, actually, there’s a sense that I don’t want to be a burden on anybody and that look, the sad part of that, if you want to get into the neuroscience of connecting with each other, rather than actually being a burden on somebody, in that situation.

If I was to come to Anthony, because I’m struggling, and I really need Anthony’s help, both Anthony and Mark, sort of getting a benefit from that interaction, or dopamine systems are both fired up as a result of this, you know what I mean? And it’s not, and it’s not necessarily me being a burden on you, you may be very, very happy to help. Sometimes you can’t, but at least you can listen, it’s not that difficult, but we both get something out of so the relationship or the interaction if you like, and as you were speaking there reminded me of a great saying I heard the other day that there’s only one thing more exhausting than living with or struggling with a mental health issue, and that’s trying to pretend that you don’t have one.

even harder. That’s just so much harder. But that shame and that stigma, often sort of makes us sort of wallow in that if you like.

Anthony Hartcher 17:43
Yeah, it’s very much, you got to have that awareness and acknowledgment that you’re struggling in order for the next step of you know, in terms of the healing journey to take place.

Mark Butler 17:57
That sense of hope that you need that part of the sense of hope, and there’s a guy Bessel Vander Kolk, is a sort of expert in trauma, and he has a great line, he said, the probably the number one, the primary issue around people’s mental health is that you know, the best way forward is knowing that we belong somewhere and knowing that we’re safe in the company of others, because if we don’t have that, then then we’re going to retreat further as the stigma gets greater, you know, talking about the homeless person with people walking past them every day and we’ve all done that we’ve all been guilty of it because we fear it, you know, are they dangerous, and actually, they’re not 10 times more likely to be victims of violence than to sort of being the instigator of it.

So, we need to understand when and if we’re going to break the cycle of stigma, we have to normalize the conversation. We have to make it okay to not be okay and there was an Australian, the Patrick McGorry; Dr. Patrick McGorry. He was asked recently, sort of what he felt people should understand about mental health and he had a great line, and I hope I quote him correctly, but he said, so he was “So what should people know about mental health?” And he said, “That it can and probably will happen to you, and it definitely has or already is happening to somebody very, very close to you.”

So you know, it’s that common, and yet it’s still sort of unspoken about. I work with organizations, and some industry sectors have greater levels of mental health issues than others, and then there are the obvious ones like fire and rescue, police, ambles but people in the financial sector in the technology sector construction, mining, they all have heightened levels of mental health, and up to one in three in an organization will experience a mental health issue this year if they’re not already.

So when I’m talking to leaders, and that’s based I say, okay, so look at the person on either side of you. If they seem okay, well, then statistically, you’re the one who’s going to have the mental health issue. If you’re adamant, you’re okay, well, then one of them is hiding, and really, really well, and you got to ask yourself, why, why are they hiding it? And it’s because it’s stigma; and because they don’t feel like it’s safe to actually come forward and reach out and say, I’m, I’m struggling here a bit, I need some help.

Anthony Hartcher 20:44
Says that element of, you know, if job security, right, they fear that, yeah, yeah. And I think that’s probably one of the big drivers of why people hold back in the workplace is thinking, well, if they say, I’m not coping with this job I’m doing, they’ll take it away from me. Yeah, you know, or something that they’ll lose something as a result of coming forward.

Mark Butler 21:05
Next round of redundancies, and, you know, I won’t survive the next round of redundancies, and if I do ask for help, sometimes I, you know, I identify by my job, and if I, if I reach out and ask for help, then they’ll take the work off me and then what if I got, or they give it to my competition in the workplace, you know, I mean, Jerry or Sally over here will take on my work while I recover, and if they do a better job of it, then I’m done.

So I can’t say anything, I’m just going to have to tough this, I’ll make it to the end of the week or the end of the month, or until I can take some time off, and that is, you know, that’s the whole issue with burnout, etc, is when we don’t deal with the issue. Sometimes they’ll go away by itself, but if it’s a chronic issue, or your workplace is such that, you know, you know, there was a sort of a kudos to the sort of the amount of stress that we used to sort of endure, you know, to mean, we used to see it as a badge of honor. Some places still probably do, I’m not sure that it’s a gun, I’d hope it’s diminishing, but it’s still, it still actually occurs.

So yeah, there is definitely that fear that could be judged badly as a result of this, and that comes down to your leader, it comes down to your immediate manager, it comes down to the level of care that the organization has and where they are in the structure of looking after their people, but the progressive organizations know that there is a direct line between the mental health of your people and the performance of the organization, you pick any one of the KPIs that a business or a leader is measured by productivity, profitability, performance, absenteeism, presenteeism, all of these are measured is affected by the mental health of your people, millennials and younger people in general value, the reputation an organization has around caring for their employees, and just, you know, colorful posters and fruit balls just doesn’t cut it anymore.

In fact, a lot of organizations will rely on Mental Health First Aid and employee assistance programs as their sort of go and that’s their mental health strategy, but there was a time when that was okay, but it’s just not enough anymore. I mean, look at the last year and a half we’ve been through outsourcing it is it’s just not enough, and leaders often just say, Oh, go see HR about that, have you run the EAP and then divest themselves of the problem, but the best leaders today are adept at having that kind of conversations with their people or on their mental health, you have to be, you know, it’s, there’s too much at stake, and it’s much easier to maintain and keep your employees than it is to actually try and, you know, replace them with somebody else, and the progress of smart organizations recognize and see that.

Anthony Hartcher 24:08
Yeah, because I’m thinking that there needs to be light within these organizations, and as you said, way more than just the fruit bowl and a banner, and you know, talking about and speaking to mental health needs, there need to be systems in place, because I’m thinking in some of these situations, the mental health may be driven from the manager to the light that relationship between the manager and the employee, then that might be toxic.

That could be primarily where the struggle is and unless that company has, you know, a process in place where this employee feels safe to step away and raise with someone other than their manager who’s creating the mental health issue and I can see how you know, these more established organizations might not, you know, the newer ones probably, you know, evolve with these processes and procedures in place for some of these more established organizations, you know, well behind the eight ball and yeah.

Mark Butler 25:07
Yeah, no, no, absolutely they are, you know, I, when I’m talking to anybody in that space that the analogy I use is the team captain, running around to the pitch that he or she needs to know that the team is at peak performance. Nobody’s limping, nobody’s hiding an injury, nobody’s, you know, misfiring not following the game plan, etc, anything that’s going to slow the rest of the team down. It’s not enough to have to first-aid people on the sideline with a stretcher ready to run on and take somebody off and take them to the doctor or the physio or whatever.

That’s reactive, you know, we’re reacting to issues that have already sort of become entrenched now and a team captain should have been able to spot that that person was limping, and not at their best. So that’s the kind of analogy I use; and it’s no good when somebody limps up to the captain and says, I think have sprained my ankle, I’ll go see the physio, you know, it’s much more on but what can we do? How can we support you around this? How can we get you back playing as you know, at your peak again, as soon as we can? And what do we do to cover for you in the meantime?

That’s the analogy I use, but, and it sounds simple, but it actually doesn’t happen. So Mental Health First Aid, I’m not knocking this at all. Employee systems programs, not knocking that at all, but it’s just not enough anymore. You know, if that’s the basis of an organization’s strategy, well, then they’re shortchanging themselves, that’s what’s actually happening there, and they lose their people as a result, you know, if you don’t look after your people, some other company will. It’s as simple as that, you know?

Anthony Hartcher 26:45
So what do you suggest to listeners? That might be, you know, obviously, a lot of listeners do go to work each day, and they may be noticing someone that’s just not themselves, and you said, you know, you mentioned that pie chart, which I’m keen to share in the show notes, actually. So I think, incorporate that pie chart in the show notes, so people can refer to it, but you know, 70%, as you mentioned, is that sense of belonging? And, you know, we’ve all got a responsibility to ensure that everyone has this sense of belonging, they’re part of the community, they’re part of, you know, the company or organization, part of the family.

Mark Butler 27:25
There valued team members. Simply.

Anthony Hartcher 27:28
Yeah, so what do you suggest? You know, first of all, we’ll look at it from the perspective of someone that’s okay themselves. So they’re not the one in three, there’s two other or one other colleague that they know within the circle of three. That’s, that’s struggling? What can they do? If they’re not the manager, what can I do as a peer?

Mark Butler 27:52
It will always appear. Look, it’s the same for the manager as it is the peer, ask. We have a tendency, particularly leaders or managers have a tendency to think if I’m asked a question, I’m supposed to have the answers. So if somebody comes to me and says, Look, I’m struggling, I need some support. You don’t have to save them. There’s no you know, you’re not a chaplain, you’re not a counselor, you’re not there to rescue anybody, and I would strongly urge you to resist rescuing anybody, because if you’re not in that sort of space, yourself struggling with anxiety, or chronic stress, etc, anything that we as a layperson would recommend or suggest to someone who’s struggling, they’ve probably already tried, and they’re just gonna see that as a waste of time.

They don’t know anything, we ask, it’s, it’s that 70% of us talking about, you know, the community support and our sense of hope. There’s no treatment, there’s no rescuing or saving in that 70% It’s just creating a psychologically safe space for someone to not be okay, and the best way to do that is to listen to one of the gods to say, how can we help?

How can we support you that way, you’re empowering them in, in getting what they need, what you know, and they probably have a fair idea themselves of what they need, whether it’s time off to go Psych or get to see a GP or, you know, can we make an appointment with the GP together on a little bit nervous.

So you know, whatever it is, anybody can do that. It doesn’t need to be a leader or a manager and it doesn’t need to be HR who helped somebody through a situation like that, which is to ask, quite simply, you know, and listen.

I can’t imagine what you’re going through, but it sounds awful. What can we do to help and there’s something we can do to support you when you’re going through this? And that’s, you know if they say I need two weeks in Fiji Well, you know, the business isn’t going to support that obviously, but, but you know, what else can we do? Is there something as a person or the organization due to support your own that we, I think a lot of people are fearful that, you know, they’re going to become dependent on me now, and I’m going to have to be listening to this every bloody day and I’m going to get sick of it, that tends to not be the result, and again, you can draw a boundary around that yourself anyway.

But it’s listen, and normally, that normalizes the conversation that makes it easier than for somebody to kind of come forward, and if that’s coming from the top down in an organization, or in a football team, or if it’s, you know, you’re a pillar of society in some way, if you can talk about your struggle, and can normalize the conversation like that, that makes it a lot easier, I talk about my own struggles, around anxiety, I was misdiagnosed with depression, when I was 10, there was actually anxiety.

Back then the medications and the treatments were kind of so similar, that it didn’t really matter all that much. But I’ve worked my way through that, and then obviously burn out as, as a senior executive and organization. So you know, I’m comfortable talking about this and talking about suicide, and all of these things, some people still are a bit nervous about it; but senior people in an organization if you haven’t struggled yourself, and let’s face it, 50% of us will in the course of our working life. So if you haven’t as Pat McGarry said, it’s either if it’s, it’s it, you know, it’s, if it isn’t already, then it will be happening to somebody close to you.

So have the conversation around that. That normalizes and when we, when people hear it’s okay to not be okay, they can reach out and look for support and help. That’s how we break it.

Anthony Hartcher 31:43
Particularly. Yeah, particularly if it’s coming from that leader within the organization that they

Mark Butler 31:49
Or in society or whatever, forever. Here’s a good one for you, and for your listeners, and viewers. I was doing some advanced training in suicide prevention with a group of GPs, sometime last year, and I remember asking them how much of their work is based on mental health? And I think stress was the conversation at the time, but how much of your work is based on that? And they said, boasts about 10 – 15%, something like that. And they said, That’s how many people present to you saying that they’ve got stressed so that, you know, I can’t, you know, I’m depressed or I’m anxious or something like that. And they said, Yeah, I said, Yeah, but the question is, how much of your work is based around treating people who have a mental health issue or are trying to cope with their stress levels? And the answer came back, and this is surprised most people about 65 – 70%.

That’s a big number isn’t that? Huge, right? And when you take the difference between the 10 and 15, to the 65, and 70, that gap in the middle are people who either didn’t know and just sort of said, I’ve stomach problems, or I can sleep or, you know, I’m getting angry all the time.

All the way up to the people who even talking to their GP, were felt too stigmatized to be able to say, mentally, I’m struggling, you know, but that’s a huge number, and I’ve had that since then, I’ve asked GP’s and various times, you know, about that statistic? And they said yes, well, right. Yeah.

So we’re not alone? You know? Yeah, and we need to be able to just talk about it some more. We’ve already I mean, stigma itself is prevalent, and it’s not just our own mental health, we stigmatize people for, you know, criminal records, skin color, you know, there’s a sort of a line between discrimination and stigma, and, and the way I talked about it, I said, discrimination does, but stigma sees.

So we have laws that prevent discrimination, and rightly so, but until we have thought police, then we’re not you can’t really legislate against stigma, you know what I mean? It’s, there’s visible stigma, there’s invisible stigma, you know, and we stigmatize people, as I said, around, you know, sexual orientation, skin color, religious beliefs, there’s, you know, any number of those we people can be made to feel less than, but the invisible stuff is the silent stuff, and that’s actually the more harmful at the moment as well.

Anthony Hartcher 34:34
Absolutely Yeah, and I think you mentioned earlier in the, in the podcast about the reliance on substances in order to deal with it, and I can imagine a lot of these under the iceberg, not the tip of the iceberg that is sitting there, underlying festering issues around this stigmatization can drive people to substance abuse and you mentioned that person, you know, that then relies on alcohol that and then we further see that as further shame on that person.

Mark Butler 35:07
That weakness because they’ve resorted to that, you know, that’s Yeah, and that’s how it’s painted, and that’s how we see that the war on drugs. I mean, you know, it’s just so antiquated, it hasn’t worked. It’s a health issue, it’s another criminal issue, and I think that you know, the tables are starting to turn a little bit on that, but it takes all of us to sort of break that mold and break that stigma. You know.

Anthony Hartcher 35:32
Yeah, because, you know, drugs are always seen as an escape from reality is in essence in a numbing. Yeah, how you’re feeling and trying to hope it will take it away?

Mark Butler 35:43
Yeah. That’s it. The only problem is you can pick and choose what you’re not, you know, everything once you start using the substance. Yeah, exactly, and so, but that’s, you know, I mean, that was my journey. When I was on antidepressants. When I was younger, it took away the deep darkness, but I kind of lost that sort of a joyous bit at the top, you know, the sort of entry stood if you like, but that was a sacrifice worth making. So it didn’t have to be down in the depths of the black hole as it were, you know, so you can pick and choose what you know, unfortunately.

Anthony Hartcher 36:23
Just on in terms of better, you know, more sustainable outcomes in terms of helping people manage mental health you know, we’ve talked about it from the peer noticing someone that doesn’t look right, and how to approach that person that’s not feeling well.

Now from the person that’s not feeling well. What, you got any tips there in order to help them just break out of this? You know, there’s fear of shame and stigmatization and loss of job like have you got some gems there that you can share in order to help that person to take that step forward? To ask for help?

Mark Butler 36:59
Yeah, two people I would tell you you know, find these two people on YouTube look at Brene Brown, have a listen to what she’s got to say, and find Dr. Kirsten Neff, Neff as well, she is a leading authority on self compassion, because we need both. I mean, self care, you know, all about you’re a clinical nutritionist, and you know, we just to support ourselves asleep, diet, exercise mindset, you know, if we take care of those things, we’re certainly on the road to recovery.

We can do a lot in that space to sort of support ourselves, but sometimes, you know, life is shit; and sometimes this is shit. So we need to answer develop that sense of self compassion, that, that it’s okay to feel like this for a while, but we don’t wallow in it, and we’re going to help, and that’s the point, that’s when we need to reach out and know that we belong and know that we’re not going to be rejected, or abandoned for feeling like this.

We have to develop that sense of self compassion to know that it’s okay to not be okay sometimes. I think they’re probably the first two places I would go. So that second, you know, we spend, I think we pay way more attention to our laptop and our mobile phone and an iPad battery than we do our own batteries. Right, and I think if we start there, you’re certainly on the road to self care.

In terms of reaching out and asking for help. I think you just got to do it. You know, there isn’t a magic formula, that I’d love to be able to say, here’s the secret insider tip to it but in actual fact, it’s, you know, seek out where you believe you belong, you know, reach out to your tribe, and ask for it. I mean, it’s amazing. When you talk to families who are have experienced or have witnessed or part of suicide, suicidality. You know, the line is always over yet to meet a family that said, Yeah, we saw that coming. Every single time it’s it’s jeez, we had no idea, or, you know, yeah, we knew that we’re struggling and we talked about it, but they seem to get better, and unfortunately, when somebody who’s suicidal starts to suddenly get better and has more energy or they’re kinder to other people, we see that as all their turn the corner, they’re actually getting better, but that’s actually a red flag to me.

You know, that tells me that they’re making plans or they do have a strategy in place. And so we need to sort of be just connected and mindful of people. It’s okay to ask somebody how they are. You don’t say “Are you okay?” I mean, we do have Are you okay? But even the Are you okay? People recognize that. That’s not actually the question to ask because it’s closed. If I said Anthony, are you okay? You know, you’re gonna say 80% of the time. Yeah, I’m fine, and you might reach out, but if I said, Anthony, how you are this week? Or, you know, how are you feeling on a scale of one to 10? Where are you at? Tell me? Because I’m concerned, I’ve noticed that you know, you haven’t been catching up for lunch with us or you haven’t been coming out on the weekend? You know, a question like that. I’m concerned.

So I’m asking you, you know, that’s it’s very hard to be stigmatized around that when somebody is showing an element of empathy and care.

Anthony Hartcher 40:33
Absolutely, because you’re acknowledging that you’ve noticed them. So you know, you’ve observed certain behaviors are just not them and you’re not acknowledging that to the person. So they can say, Oh, well, this person obviously cares, because they’ve been looking out for me, and they’re just bringing that to my attention and, and it sort of really opens up that pathway for them to say, Yeah, you’re right. I just haven’t been great lately, and then, you know, then you could ask or what’s going on? And then yeah, yeah,

Mark Butler 41:02
Yeah, exactly. And look, there’s a science behind how you ask the question and we talk about using “I” statements, and that’s something that when I’m training leaders, we work quite hard on that because we have a tendency to not use the word I, you know, we set up a bit of a cranky Penzone lately. You’re right. You’re gonna respond? Yeah, I’m fine. You know, but it’s Anthony, I look, I’ve noticed that just in recent times, you’re not quite yourself and just wanted just check in? What’s happening? How are you doing? Yeah, much more likely to go? Have you noticed that?

Yeah, shift, you know, or whatever it is right but there’s that, you know, it’s, it’s coming from me. So it’s not, I’m not accusing you of anything. You’ve noticed, this is what I’m feeling and it’s, you know, it looks, it’s the same sort of science when if we had to have a confrontation, it would start with sort of what I’ve noticed, and how it’s affecting me. Because you can then take tell me that I’m not feeling that or that, or is that right? It’s mine and I own it, and I’m sharing it with you.

So it’s a much safer way of doing it. But we do you know, I look, I talk to people all the time. And they say, Well, you know, when you’re done? Yeah, you should sort of probably looking after yourself, and again, when who’s this? You? You’re talking about me? To rephrase it. And when I’m down, I should look after myself? Well, yeah, that’s what I meant, you know, but use the language on it, you know? Absolutely. Yeah. So there’s, there’s huge power in that. I.

Anthony Hartcher 42:39
I really like it, and I like that, that fact that you know, rephrasing that, are you okay, to a more open question, to really get a deeper response, as opposed to just closing you down and then you think, Oh, that person’s okay. They’re saying all this good. Yeah. But the fact that you draw it to yeah, I’ve noticed a change in behavior recently and as you said, they can’t say, because that’s what you’ve observed, you may you might have incorrectly observed them or got the wrong impression, but at least they feel recognized by you and noticed by you, and that gives them a sense of belonging, which you mentioned is so important. Yeah.

Mark Butler 43:20
We’re not wagging the finger at anybody, but we’re just sort of saying I care enough about you to check in. Yeah, very hard to be offended. But that, you know, it just looks, it’s a similar question with suicide. If, you know, if you thought somebody was suicidal, you’re not going to, you’re not going to do anything stupid. No idea because obviously, the answer to that is no, of course not but it’s not going to change anything, you know, but I’m really concerned, I’m worried. You know, are you thinking about taking your own life?

Just somebody who was suicidal? That’s probably the best question they’ve been asked in the last year. You know, and if they say, Yeah, well, or no, do you want do you have a plan and doing it? You know, and you find your own language around that, but, you know, they’re not pariahs, that, you know, these people are struggling, they’re going through a challenging, challenging time and if they hear somebody there, you know, willing enough to just check in with them that that might be all anybody needs to sort of, you know, shift in some way. So, I’ve noticed are unconcerned to me.

Anthony Hartcher 44:28
That question you raised earlier was, you know, how can I help you? What can I do to help you? And you know, so it really opens them up to saying, you know, or just saying, well, you’re here to help me?

Well, yeah, I could do with some help and this is where I could do with some help. So yeah, so Mark, I’ve really thoroughly enjoyed this conversation about this topic, You’ve just given such great insight for me, personally, I’ve learned a lot and no doubt the listeners have about how to better approach mental health, how to destigmatize it, and what the individual, the listener the viewer can do, to help out, you know, a colleague, or if they’re the manager to help out an employee, and to better support that person’s well being, and to make them feel part of belonging to a community and organization, you know, bigger cause part of the family to really help, you know, help them along their mental health journey, because as you said, life’s full of ups and downs, and it’s, it’s part of life, isn’t it? Yeah.

Mark Butler 45:38
Yeah and if we know we belong, and we know, we matter, and we’re valued, then that’s probably the primary that’s the most important bit you know,

Anthony Hartcher 45:48
Absolutely, because, yeah, and is that because I had my last question for you as any concluding words, but I think you’ve taken them out of my mouth.

Mark Butler 45:58
Yeah. That’s it, to know that we belong to know we’re valued and to know, we, you know, we matter, that’s really important. Loneliness is I mean, we could go another hour on loneliness, but it’s, it’s a huge issue in society today, and the same answer for that, you know, to know, we belong, and we go somewhere, you know, but it’s up to us to be on the front step, and to reach out if we’re failing or feeling in some way that we need help. We need to be okay to not be okay, and that comes down to the, you know, your tribe, or your community, making it so.

Anthony Hartcher 46:45
Awesome words there, and, yes, I’ll take you up on that extra episode, or part two of this episode on, we could talk about loneliness, because I think, yeah, very important subject, and I certainly there’s stats out there, the studies are showing that you know, we have a growing population that is feeling more lonely, and that’s only going to as you know, feel you know, that they don’t belong to something, and yeah, create more mental health issues.

Mark Butler 47:15
Absolutely. It shortens your life about the same as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Wow. That’s incredible. That’s a big statement.

Anthony Hartcher 47:24
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. So thanks again, Mark, for sharing all your expertise with our listeners today.

For the listeners, if you like the episode if you think there’s a lot of value in there, please share it with your colleagues, your friends, your family, the better help their mental health. Certainly leave a review because that will help this episode, get to more people, and stay tuned for more insightful episodes of Me & My Health Up.

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