London based wellbeing service Motion to Mind™ announces the launch of a groundbreaking modular program aimed at reducing stress-related ill health, as Safety and Health Expo 2019, the UK’s largest safety and health event, gets underway. The program will initially be offered to employers in the City of London. Stress Injury Prevention Training™ (SIPT™) is a pioneering initiative designed to equip people with the knowledge and practical skills to manage their stress response, conserve mental/physical energy, avoid mental distress and improve performance. SIPT™ is a proactive, holistic approach enabling participants to empower themselves and maintain mind/body fitness. The training has been devised by wellbeing expert and Army veteran, John Allison.
John said: “We need to take a far more proactive approach to stress-related ill health. While there is a place for interventions such as Mental Health First Aid (MHFA), these are reactive approaches aimed at people already in a state of mental distress. I’m rolling out the SIPT™ program to provide employees with education, training, diagnostic testing, experiential learning and to establish internal peer support networks, in order to reduce the incidence of stress injury. Stress injury may occur when there is repetitive activation of our internal stress response and little or no recovery, back to a healthy baseline.
I’ve been providing this type of training for several years in London. It has been very well received by HR departments and employees. Stress Injury Prevention Training™ is based on experience gained from 24 years of service with the British Army, civilian/military stress inoculation training, my own encounter with stress related injury, labelled as Generalised Anxiety Disorder and seven years providing a range of wellbeing services in London.
I found the transition into civilian life and self-employment a huge challenge. I joined the Army at 16 and left 24 years later, I didn’t really have a clue about business and civilian life. In an attempt to find my way I was working all hours and didn’t realise I was physically and mentally exhausted. While serving in the Army I’d lost a mother and brother then I felt like I’d lost my Army family too. The plates started spinning, I was in a constant state of high alert and thought I was going to have a heart attack. I ended up sleeping in my van outside A&E at one point. I don’t want the same thing to happen to others.”
John added: “Everyone is talking about workplace wellbeing but wellbeing doesn’t start at 9am and finish at 5pm….it’s 24/7. Many clients are finding work challenging because of stress triggers in their private lives, lifestyle, finances, relationships, accommodation and more. The working environment simply becomes another spinning plate. We need to show our people how to use their mind and body for growth, not as an obstacle to modern life, a life that is evolving at a rapid rate of knots.”
A little amount of stress can actually be helpful but it’s the impact of continuously activating our stress response that is very harmful to our health. Furthermore we’re now understanding that long term exposure to stress hormones can lead to bone-thinning, digestive issues, memory loss and a significant reduction in our ability to ward off disease. We tend to assume that stress is an external phenomenon however stress is actually about how we internally respond and perceive a stress trigger, real or imagined. This is where SIPT™ makes its mark, it’s mental up-armouring.”
John Allison coined the term “Left of Burnout”™ having spent several years working in counter-bomb intelligence. “I was working in Baghdad with the US Combined Explosives Exploitation Cell (CEXC) in 2004. We were a small team and Improvised Explosive Devices (IED’s) were a major threat resulting in hundreds of casualties. Initially in Iraq, the counter-bomb approach was to focus on the smoking hole in the ground but then people realised that we needed to move far ‘left of boom’ or ‘left of bang’ along the IED attack timeline. The aim being to prevent the bomb from being fabricated and emplaced. This was achieved by, for example, interdicting the supply of bomb components, capturing bomb makers and finding the bomb workshops.
If we’re to really get to grips with the stress injury epidemic, we need to take a similar approach. We need to intervene as far left along the stress timeline as we can, the further left we go the more proactive we become and the more likely we are to prevent or alleviate stress-related conditions ranging from insomnia, anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress and post-traumatic stress disorder. In fact SIPT™ is likely to help people experience Post-Traumatic Growth (PTG) should they be exposed to traumatic events through the life-course. Stress Injury Prevention Training™ is designed to sit, far, far left of burnout.” John added.
According to UK Thinktank, the New Economics Foundation, in 2016/17, 526,000 employees struggled with stress related mental ill health. In a report published by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in 2018, 15.4 million working days were lost due to work-related stress, depression or anxiety in 2017/18. Even in the National Health Service, 30% of sickness absence is due to stress and it’s costing the service around £300-400m per year.. The HSE concluded last year that, “There is no evidence that the introduction of MHFA training has improved the organisational management of mental health in workplaces.”
John Allison MSc MA FRGS is the founder of Motion to Mind™, a holistic wellbeing service – www.motiontomind.co.uk He also runs the highly popular form of mind/body urban training – StreetGym® www.streetgym.co.uk. John is an outdoor fitness coach, physical activity for mental health instructor, licensed Heartmath coach and Firstbeat Lifestyle Assessment service provider. He is also trained in hypnotherapy and EFT. He completed 24 years of regular service with the British Army, two years in the British Army Reserves and specialised in Explosive Ordnance Disposal, Counter-Terrorist Search and Weapons Intelligence.