To mark Mental Health Awareness Week Vortexa invited special guest Jack Green, a Team Great Britain Double Olympian, athletics coach, and mental health advocate, to share his own lived experience of poor mental health whilst striving to be one of the best athletes on the planet. Jack’s story is one of resilience and told openly and honestly with the hope of destigmatising mental health through his words and he also shared practical tips that you can use to manage your own well-being and then reach for high performance.
Jack, could we ask you to start by introducing yourself and telling us a bit about your story?
Hello, my name is Jack Green. I am a Team GB Double Olympian, athletics coach, metal health advocate and workplace wellbeing professional.
I was a professional athlete for 10 years but struggled with my mental health during my career. This led to me sharing my story with others and moving into workplace wellbeing.
My passion is high performance and love the link that positive wellbeing has on being successful.
As an elite athlete I am sure there was a huge focus on managing your physical health, but could you talk us through how you managed and focused on your mental health at that time?
I always struggled to find the right balance for myself when striving for greatness. I would often sacrifice and neglect my mental, financial, and social health in the pursuit of physical excellence.
Once I understood the links between mental and physical health, I started to prioritise my rest and recovery. Because rest and recovery are simply wellbeing. Find what makes you feel rewarded, healthy, and strong… and continue to do it.
How has your approach and degree of focus on your own mental health changed over the years?
With greater awareness and knowledge over the years I have been able to understand where my burnout and exhaustion line is. I never knew when I was about to ‘break’ and now I try to prioritise other things outside of my career. You are a human and must treat yourself as one.
As a professional coach what are the most important things to think of while supporting someone else and helping them achieve their goals and the performance they’re capable of?
The most important thing you can do is accept and then understand that everyone is a human being, and they will have ups and downs.
Then you must begin to measure everything by effort rather than results. This is the healthier measure as it allows you to have those days where the result might not be there, yet you are still demanding 100% effort and commitment.
This is sustainable and leads to consistency. And consistency leads to success.
Finally, what would you give as your key learnings about not only working within but thriving in fast-paced and high-performance environments?
Some of these have been covered briefly during the previous answers. From effort to being human. But adding to those it’s incredibly important to understand yourself better. Figure out and analyse why you behave in certain ways, why you react how you do in certain situations, what drives you. All this self-awareness leads to a greater understanding of what works for you. This gives you a repeatable model for success in the future.
How does Vortexa support the Mental Health of our team beyond MHA week?
Mental Health Awareness week offers us all a valuable opportunity to pause and reflect on the topic of mental health and what it means to each and every one of us. During this MHA Week, as always, we’ve seen a flurry of campaigns and initiatives from a wide range of organisations, but how can we ensure that we continue to support our team members, loved ones and friends once MHA week has passed?
We wanted to share a bit about what we do here at Vortexa to try and do this. Of course this is a continuous process of engaging with our team members and we are by no means perfect, but we do believe that by continually listening, learning and talking about mental health across our teams we are reducing the stigma for all and hopefully enable people to get help if and when they need it.
It’s good to talk
Alongside bi-annual one-on-ones to sense-check how our team are feeling, the People Team hold monthly drop-in sessions where no conversation topic is off-limits. Additionally we run the more traditional annual engagement survey to gauge exactly how effective we are as an empathetic employer.
Professional support & signposting
We offer access to professional support via ‘Spill’, a Slack plugin that provides our team with confidential courses of therapy, one-off counselling sessions and therapist access, in addition to an abundance of online tools and resources through Slack.
We also offer Mental Health first aiders who are there to support team members who may be experiencing a mental health crisis or episode and need support in being signposted to professional help and support.
Giving back to the community
Earlier this year we launched our global Volunteering Policy at Vortexa and rolled out onHand, a volunteering app available to the team in the UK. Volunteering is an excellent way to have a positive impact in the community and give us a chance to connect with others and build relationships, providing us with a sense of purpose and belonging.
‘Clockwise’, a Slack add-on and intelligent calendar assistant automatically carves out free time and focus time in your calendar and is a much-valued tool that automatically informs peers if you’re free or engaged.
Donut, a Slack add-on, randomly assigns two teammates within Vortexa to arrange a virtual catch-up. Donut connects all departments on a mass scale and at times served as the only social interaction a number of our team had during COVID. Although introduced during the COVID pandemic it continues to offer a valuable route of connection at all levels and across all functions at Vortexa.
Remembering everyone is unique
Each team member at Vortexa is completely unique and offering a range of options to support them and help them understand their mental health is something we continue to value as a core tenet of our culture.
If you are struggling with your own mental health or have a friend, team member, or loved one you’re concerned about, here are some organisations that can offer support.
- Spill: Mental health support for companies, delivered through Slack.
- CALM: (Campaign Against Living Miserably.) A charity providing a mental health helpline and webchat.
- Mental Health Foundation: Information and support for anyone with mental health problems or learning disabilities.
- Mind: Information detailing the views and needs of people with mental health problems.
- Samaritans: Confidential support for people experiencing feelings of distress or despair.
- The World Health Organisation: Practical resources on how to cope with stress.
- Clockwise: Intelligent calendar assistant for carving out free time and focus time.
- Donut: Virtual catch-ups, delivered through Slack.
- Natasha Chatur: Work Happiness Coach offering expert advice on finding meaningful engagement and success at work