The challenges of daily life and stress along with mental health problems can become obstacles to achieving our goals and living well.
In this informative article, highly esteemed general practitioner in family medicine and life and executive business coach, Dr Hana Patel, sheds light on how mental health coaching can help both individuals and businesses thrive in spite of the setbacks life may bring.
What is mental health coaching?
Mental health coaching is a specific type of health and wellbeing life coaching that focuses on mental illness. This could include depression, anxiety, PTSD, OCD, compulsive behaviour, burnout or stress, among others. Mental health problems affect around 1 in 4 people in England each year, with 1 in 6 people being affected by a common mental health problem in a week in England.
As a clinical doctor, I am able to use a unique holistic coaching approach, using a partnership model where the client is an active participant in their own recovery plan. The client is guided to decide what they can do while I provide medical and coaching expertise with support for successful change and accountability.
What type of people could benefit from mental health coaching?
I commonly see clients with anxiety, phobias or depression, for example, who want to find a way to manage difficult symptoms and maintain stability in their mental health. As a general practitioner, I am able to take a holistic view and, where appropriate, offer evidence-based treatment including medication.
Clients often ask how mental health coaching can help when there are other forms of therapy available, such as psychotherapy. Mental health is a fluctuating spectrum and clients may have seen a therapist previously to understand how past experiences affect their life. They may now be in a position to look forward and focus more on personal and professional development, making mental health coaching a better option for their current situation.
As well as longer term coaching, I also work with clients who want a shorter term approach to their personal growth, such as those who want to improve their stress management or work-life balance. Mental health coaching suits clients who are interested in learning practical methods to address personal and professional challenges.
Can mental health coaching benefit businesses as well as individuals?
Businesses who are aware of the rising implications of mental health problems affecting their employees often approach me for my services with the aim to increase wellbeing, staff morale and productivity. Mental health coaching can be a helpful adjunct whilst waiting for therapy or finding an acute specialist psychiatrist for example.
What are the most important elements of mental health coaching?
I draw on principles and practices from evidence-based therapies, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), to help clients manage emotions, challenge negative thinking, improve relationship skills, and reduce stress and anxiety — all of which improve mental health. I also maintain professional boundaries and confidentiality in my relationships with clients. By using well-established codes of ethics with evidence-based techniques, I tailor my approach to offer bespoke treatment for each client, depending on their circumstance and need.
What impacts can mental health coaching have?
Wellbeing and mental health problems can affect anyone; an employee, a student, a manager, or a CEO. In our fast-paced world with the recent COVID-19 pandemic, pressures at home and work, meeting deadlines can take a huge toll on anyone.
In the workplace, mental health coaching can help clients to manage high stress levels. Harvard Business Review have demonstrated how coaches can help organisations thrive by ensuring that employees like coming to work and have a positive sense of wellbeing, as personal issues can impact how they function at work. A mental health coach in the workplace can benefit employees by increasing their performance, boosting their confidence to take on challenging tasks and promoting a better work-life balance.
Mental health coaching can help an individual create a clear plan of action, using their current strengths to reach future goals. It can also help a person to rebuild relationships, improve how they function in social situations as well as increasing quality and satisfaction with life and giving hope for the future.
For clients with specific mental health issues, such as substance misuse, mental health coaching can lead to a reduction in use, make the client less reliant on acute services and increase self-care. It can change motivation for clients, to help attend outpatient appointments and engage in care planning.
Evidence shows that one-to-one mental health coaching approach leads to positive and lasting outcomes that improve over time. A typical period of change can be seen in 3 to 6 months and the effects tend to be progressive if coaching is continued beyond this.
What makes a good mental health coach?
I am passionate about helping clients reach their wellbeing and mental health goals. As a doctor, I promote self care and for patients to be proactive when looking after their mental and physical health.
Some important qualities of a mental health coach include empathy, understanding and patience. It is important for a mental health coach to be able to listen attentively and to be respectful of the client’s feelings. Using a holistic approach and my medical background, I offer mental health coaching as a tool to help people with mental health problems manage their lives better.
If you think you could benefit from mental health coaching, don’t hesitate to visit Dr Hana Patel’s Top Doctors profile where you can learn more about her and book a consultation.