Speaker Spotlight: Mental Health at Work With Michelle Flynn

The People and Culture Club is a safe space for managers, founders and leaders to come together and explore some of the hurdles that come with scaling a business.

Each month we hear stories from those who’ve successfully supported their business, invested in their people and created a culture where everyone can thrive.

At March’s People and Culture Club session, we were joined by CBT Practitioner and Certified Health Coach Michelle Flynn to explore…

💚 Why it’s so important to support employee wellness at work
👂 Signs to look for if you feel someone is experiencing mental ill-health and what to do about it
📈 Trends we expect to see in 2022 that will shape workplace mental health and how to apply them
🫂 Practical things we can do to better support employee wellness and mental health at work
🧠 Looking after our own mental health as managers and leaders

We caught up with Michelle to learn more about her career and thoughts around workplace wellbeing.

Michelle Flynn

Michelle Flynn

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and the work you do?

I am Michelle Flynn and I am a Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) Practitioner, Certified International Health Coach, an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach with a Gut Health Certification and Mental Health in Recruitment Ambassador.

I work with individuals and companies to help them understand their health and happiness goals (e.g. healthy diet, weight loss, reducing stress, increasing exercise, better quality of sleep, improved relationships and exciting careers).

I then support them as they put in place the habits to achieve and sustain their goals through 1-2-1 coaching, presentations, workshops and company well-being programmes.

How about a moment that helped define your career?

In 2014, I woke up having what I thought was a heart attack (luckily, it was not).  Following endless tests, it was discovered that I had a cyst on my heart. Although normally these are nothing to worry about, and I should be able to lead a perfectly normal, healthy life, I found this wasn’t the case.

The time following my initial diagnosis saw me bouncing from illness to illness. I couldn’t understand what was going on. Time went by; I almost got used to being sick and tired.

Then my rock bottom moment (or we can call it the defining moment) made me realise I simply HAD to take time out of my career and busy schedule to find out what was wrong and to try and get my health back.

I started working with a Health Coach and she gave me my “light bulb moment”.  I was working so hard building my career and helping others with their personal and work challenges I had forgotten to take care of myself. So, I committed the time and energy to look after myself.

I was so inspired by everything I learned on my journey that I decided to train as a Health Coach. Now, I support others to transform their lifestyles so they can lead healthy, happy lives.

What piece of advice would you give your younger self?

This is a hard one as there are so many lessons that I have learnt over the last 4 years, but I doubt I would have listened to any of them when I was younger. I certainly never thought I would be saying this but the advice is “take up yoga”.

I discovered yoga aged 42 and it has helped me so much physically and mentally. I also would have been so much better at it by now had I started it earlier in life.

Life is very busy and can be stressful, so taking time to focus on my self-care makes me a better person personally and professionally.

What was the inspiration for your recent talk?

I joined [People and Culture Club host] Ally Jones to discuss all things workplace wellbeing. Searches for local mental health support has increased by 300% since the pandemic, so educating leaders about how to support their teams is critical. Asking someone if they are ok and actually listening to the answer could save a life.

What big trends are you expecting to see in 2022 that will shape workplace mental health?

I definitely see 2022 being the year that companies start to take action towards supporting the mental health of their teams.

In 2022, we will see organisations reviewing their wellbeing strategies to a being more individually led. These will include gym memberships to cycle to work schemes, counselling to nutrition, yoga to breathwork. Employee Assistance Programmes will no longer be a tick box exercise but a valued service. Flexible benefit schemes are a great way to enable choice so that people can create their own wellbeing-focused benefits package.

A report by Deloitte showed that the cost to employers of poor mental health from absenteeism, presenteeism and turnover in 2020-2021 increased by 25% (up to £56 billion) compared to 2019 figures.

Businesses can no longer afford to ignore the mental health of their teams.

And finally, Silicon Brighton wouldn’t be here without people like you giving back to the community, so… what does the word community mean to you?

Community / Connection / People means everything to me. This is one of the biggest lessons we have all learnt from the lockdowns. Sadly loneliness is one of the biggest causes of depression so having communities like Silicon Brighton is vital. I am honoured to be part of it.

You can find Michelle on Twitter and LinkedIn, and check out her coaching work here.

Working hand-in-hand with Brighton’s tech community, we run a range of free meetup groups that cover a broad spectrum of specialist areas; from marketing to programming, product design to data. Check out what’s coming up here and join our community of like-minded individuals in the local tech scene!