Claire Eadington at Northern Power Futures

Claire Eadington is a business manager and writes the weekly #NPWSelfCurious for Northern Power Women. Claire is passionate about presence, productivity and wellbeing and her TEDx talk, Crossing The Bridge, has received over 1000 views on YouTube.
Claire hosted the panel for Meaningful Conversations with Maximum Impact on the Practical Stage at Northern Power Futures in Newcastle. We sat down to have a chat before the panel about approaching the topic of mental health at work.

Can you introduce yourself and your organisation for the NPF readers?
My name is Claire Eadington. I’m a business change manager for the Environmental Agency and I write the Northern Power Women Self Curious Blog.

For people who haven’t read the blog, what sort of things do you discuss with #NPWSelfCurious?
So the blog comes out every Thursday and it is about bringing your best self. It’s about presence, productivity and being well.

You’re on a panel today about meaningful conversations for maximum impact. Can you tell us a bit about what you’re going to discuss?
We’ve got some amazing experts today and we’re going to talk about the points in your career and in your working week where something’s going on, and to move forward you need to have a conversation. That might be either you’ve got a bit too much work on and you’re feeling under pressure with that. What your manager might be able to do to help you or your peers. Also about wellbeing, how do you notice if the people around you aren’t okay or if you’re not okay, and how do you have a conversation to unlock that frozen situation. Progression, what are the things holding you back? Is it a conversation that you need to have and are there other things that you’re worried about if you’re going to put yourself out there for a promotion or an opportunity. Have you had the conversations that you need to make that happen?

Do you think workplaces should introduce spaces and create a more open environment for people to talk about mental health?

Absolutely. I know my employer would be absolutely mortified if I was hiding a physical ailment or health problem, because I didn’t feel like I could be supported by my employer. Why should mental health be any different? It is complicated and the biggest thing for me is it involved leadership of organisations being comfortable to talk about it themselves. That is the big thing, especially if you look at the demographic of leadership for big organisations, it’s not generally a demographic that is on the forefront of this stuff.

I think often you look around the space of people who are really out there with the mental health conversations, it’s often women and younger people. We haven’t been through those generations of being, “ohh no, I’m fine, I’m fine. I’m getting on with this, this is alright.” So actually it’s the leadership to do it and it requires them to be so brave. If they can change a little thing that makes every single person in their organisation feel healthier and happier, they’re going to unlock so much productivity for their business. I think it’s really worth doing it, trying, and thinking how can we as a business do this in the best way for us.

I agree. I feel like more businesses are realising the happier their employees are, the better their work is.

Yeah, it doesn’t always equal happy, sometimes it just equals honest. And actually, none of us are happy all the time! It’s Valentines Day coming up, even if you’re in a relationship, you might be dreading Valentine’s Day. It’s one of those things, it doesn’t always equal happy but it does equal authentic. I think that’s great and if you can have people come into work, feeling like “I am me, and I’m going to do my job today” then that’s fantastic.

What else are you excited for at Northern Power Futures?

Everything! I love newcastle, it’s one of the best cities in the world and the Boiler Shop as a venue is amazing. There are some fantastic people here. The buzz in the room is great, the venue in great, and like all of these events when you have these people in the room, you just don’t know what conversations you’re going to have. I’m looking forward to looking back at the people I’ve met and the conversations I’ve had, and feeling ready to take on the next thing!

I think now we’re finally talking about mental health in the same space (as physical health) and I think It’s absolutely right that we do that. The best advice I can give would be acknowledged that it is all connected. If you don’t put your physical health and mental health first, you’re not going to be able to bring your whole self.

Claire Eadington and Danielle from Northern Power Women at Northern Power Futures in Newcastle.

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Northern Power Futures photographs taken by Thomas Jackson at TyneSight Photography

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