It’s a stark statistic that many of you have probably already seen, but, since it’s so important, here it is again: one in four of us will suffer with a mental health issue in any given year.
Think of all the people you interact with on a daily or weekly basis and imagine that ¼ of them may be struggling with their mental health in some way. It’s a lot of people – sadly. If there is someone in particular that you’re worried about, this might be helpful for you.
It might also be something that you are dealing with and, if that’s the case, I hope you’re finding the help and support you need.
Coaching isn’t therapy but…
After completing my coaching training, my next priority was undertaking mental health training to complement my coaching skills because talking about emotions in the right way is challenging.
There is a clear and important difference between coaching and therapy/counselling. This is something important for us, and our clients, to bear in mind. However, it’s not possible to keep mental health entirely outside of coaching sessions especially when you don’t know what is going to come up in one session to the next. Will something be happening for the client that week? Will a question you ask trigger something within the client? We can’t be sure it won’t.
Even if we, as coaches, focus sessions on a client’s future goals and how they can develop themselves to achieve those, mental health issues may still arise. The barriers to reaching those goals will be linked to the client’s own past experiences, which could very well include mental health issues.
The coaches’ mindset
It’s important to be mindful that it’s not just clients who bring their own experiences (with mental health or otherwise) into the coaching process. This is why it’s our responsibility to know our own personal boundaries and limits so we can support the clients in the best possible way.
There could be topics that are off-limits for us because, if they crop up, we might not be able to manage our emotions as well as supporting the client at the same time. Spending some time in advance getting to better know ourselves – our limits and triggers – will help coaches and clients alike.
So, while I am definitely not saying that coaching and therapy are the same, I think that an understanding of mental health issues is helpful for coaches. We want to be there for our clients in the moment: to respond in a helpful way and support them in seeking appropriate help.
Even if you’re not a coach and this has you thinking about having better conversations, you should email us at firstname.lastname@example.org