Harnessing the power of listening to improve mental health and stability at work!

Blog by Fareeha Usman, EDI Manager, Dynamo North East

“Why should we try to improve mental health of our employees at work? Why should we promote inclusion, value diversity and nurture equality? A simple answer – because we clearly cannot succeed without one another.

Various research findings have concluded that people face barriers towards inclusion because of their age, gender, race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation. Unfortunately, these unique characteristics are used against them and continuously questioned making it difficult for them to achieve their true potential. Just like our DNA and fingerprints, the talent we bring to the table is also unique. With every other human being, their ability to perform differs. But that does not mean one is less than the other, as it is said “You cannot judge a fish by it’s ability to climb a tree”. With the increasing demand of innovation and the fast-moving world, it is crucial we value what everyone possesses.

A large majority of our time is spent at our workplaces and if the work environment is negative, it directly affects our mental health and wellbeing. It is proven that whenever a person is targeted for being different, they suffer emotionally and mentally. It deteriorates their productivity and lowers or in some cases, diminishes their will to be happy.

What previously have been half-hearted efforts and outdated approaches to embed good mental at work now must be genuine, holistic, and functional. Organisations really need to dig deep in this matter and develop programmes that check pulse of employee productivity and contentment from time to time.

It is high time we move forward from making small efforts to promoting EDI at workplaces to making more strategic and doable plans that can shape attitudes and behaviours to shift the work-culture in a meaningful and sustainable way. Taking a route that puts the employee wellbeing first and encourages and empowers the team will only benefit the organisations in the longer run. One must also remember that this is not a one-time thing, this is a continuous process and must never be stopped.

We have all been exposed to certain events that have made us who we are today. We all come from different places, and we all have a story to tell. But are we listening?

Many of us forget that we all possess one of the most effective tools to aid someone experiencing a challenging situation or a mental health crisis.


The sounds that we surround ourselves with are important. They help us build a picture of the world, understand what is going on around us, and communicate thoughts, messages, and ideas. If we want to create a reservoir of knowledge and increase intuition, then it’s important to engage the sense of hearing and really listen.

When you are in conversation with someone, make a point of listening more. Instead of jumping in with your own thoughts and opinions, take a step back. Let them speak and hear each word for what it is. For a person experiencing a stressful situation, emotional breakdown, trauma or mental health crisis, having an empathetic listener can be calming and reassuring – even healing.

Empathy, unlike sympathy, does not mean we agree with the other person or see things from the same point of view. Instead, it requires taking a moment to step outside of our normal patterns of thinking and feeling to imagine what it feels like to be the person in front of us.

Are we in our minds so restricted? Let me leave you with a thought today. Whenever you meet a new person next time, try to get to know them like you would read a book. Try to understand that it will be nothing like you have read before since the author and genre will be different each time you encounter a stranger.

Tap into your inner wisdom. It is something we all have and can build upon if we remain open and willing to learn. It is an ability to read situations, to understand subtle levels of communication, and how people think and feel. There’s an empathy to inner wisdom, an ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and sense what they are feeling.

Our distress increases when we feel isolated. By showing empathy, we can help the person in front of us calm down. Remember, the person in front of us shares our human condition – with all its needs, struggles and desires. Although we might fear making someone uncomfortable, remember that many people experiencing stressful situations at work or mental health symptoms want someone to notice them and offer support.

It’s time that we all come together to make our workplaces a psychologically safe working space for all!


This work forms the part of The Digital Talent Engine Project funded by The North of Tyne Combined Authority

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