A question of Health

What if I were to ask you a question?

What if I were to tell you that we are asked the question 10, 20, 30 times per day?

And what if I were to tell you that we very rarely answer this question honestly?

But what if I were to help you answer it honestly? And by doing so it could change your life and the lives of your employees, family members and contacts.

The question is “how are you?” and is usually met with a ritualistic response of “I’m good”; “I’m fine”; “I’m alright”; “I’m OK” or, my favourite British response, “Not too bad.” We can do better.

How are you today?

So, yes, we are focussing on the much neglected health element of the H&S agenda and specifically the mental health of the humans we interact with. But we are not going to talk about mental health here. Why? Because of the stigma. It gets in the way. Yes, we must smash that stigma and leaders have a critical role to play here by sharing their stories of mental ill-health but I also think that “mental health” needs a rebrand. So let’s talk about “Form” instead, answering the question “how are you today?” with a score, out of ten.

At the time of writing, my FormScore is a 7/10 — I am on good form. Yesterday I was a 5/10 and on poor form. Like our physical fitness our mental form is always moving. Adding “today” to the question takes away the ritual and encourages one to pause and reflect. Giving an answer out of ten makes people feel more comfortable sharing.

Why should you care?

We lose a life to suicie globally every 40 seconds.

Only 17% of people in a given population are thriving at any one time (Keyes, Huppert 2005)

The cost of mental ill-health to UK employers is estimated at £45bn (Deloitte 2020)

Focussing on helping people manage their form is one of the biggest performance gains we can make. And it will save lives.

So start with yourself. How have you slept? Have you exercised regularly? How has your nutrition been? Are you balancing stress with moments of recovery? Are you worried or relaxed about your finances? Do you have a strong sense of purpose? Do you find simple tasks and decisions easy or difficult? What are your energy levels like? Are you helping others? How connected are you to friends and family?

Notice how you are today, out of ten. And then connect with a colleague; a loved one or a friend and share your score. Ask them the question “How are you today?” and watch the magic happen.

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Be more human.

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