Archive for category: Relationships

Stress Management Strategies for New Parents: Mental Health First Aid in Early Parenthood

The transition into parenthood is a life-changing journey, bringing with it an array of new responsibilities, emotions, and adjustments. While the arrival of a new family member can bring immense joy, it can also introduce significant stressors to both new mothers and fathers.

These stressors can impact mental and emotional well-being, making it crucial to develop practical coping mechanisms and stress management strategies that promote resilience, self-care, and support during this transformative time.

In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the unique mental health challenges faced by new parents and provide actionable self-help tools and stress management techniques tailored for those navigating the early stages of parenthood. Our goal is to empower new parents to develop resilience and coping strategies to ensure their mental health and well-being flourish alongside their growing family.

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Throughout this blog article, we will discuss:

1. Recognizing the mental health challenges of early parenthood

2. Identifying stressors and warning signs of mental health concerns among new parents

3. The importance of self-care and nurturing emotional well-being during early parenthood

4. Practical stress management strategies for new parents: Tips and resources

5. Building a supportive network: The role of family, friends, and professional support in new parents’ mental health

6. Providing mental health first aid to new parents in crisis: Guidelines and considerations

7. Resources and services available to support new parents’ mental health and well-being

By exploring each of these topics, we aim to equip new parents and those who support them with the knowledge and tools necessary to navigate the mental health challenges of early parenthood with resilience, confidence, and the ability to seek additional support when needed.

As a mental health first aider or caregiver, the responsibility to understand and compassionately support the mental health needs of new parents is an important one. By learning about and implementing effective stress management strategies, we can help create a more nurturing and understanding environment for new parents, their families, and their cherished new arrivals.

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Recognizing the Mental Health Challenges of Early Parenthood

The journey into parenthood presents challenges that can significantly impact the mental health of new mothers and fathers. Some common mental health concerns include:

  • Postpartum Depression and Anxiety: Affecting both new mothers and fathers, these conditions can cause prolonged periods of sadness, worry, and feelings of hopelessness or inadequacy.
  • Sleep Deprivation: Caring for a newborn often involves disrupted sleep schedules, leading to exhaustion, irritability, and potential mood disorders.
  • Shifts in Identity and Self-Esteem: Transitioning into a parenting role can prompt new parents to question their self-worth and lead to feelings of insecurity or self-doubt.
  • Relationship Strains: The responsibilities and stresses of raising a newborn can put pressure on the couple’s relationship, potentially contributing to resentment, conflict, or a faltering support system.

Awareness of these challenges is essential for promoting resilience, fostering empathy, and encouraging new parents to seek appropriate support when needed.

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Identifying Stressors and Warning Signs of Mental Health Concerns Among New Parents

Understanding the unique stressors associated with early parenthood and identifying possible warning signs of mental health concerns can help new parents and their support networks take proactive steps to address and manage these challenges.

Common stressors include:

  • Feeling overwhelmed by new responsibilities
  • Balancing work, personal life, and parenting
  • Adapting to new routines and schedules
  • Managing financial concerns related to raising a child
  • Navigating changing relationships with friends, family, or romantic partners

Warning signs of potential mental health concerns may include:

  • Persistent sadness, anxiety, or irritability
  • Difficulties bonding with the baby
  • Withdrawing from social or recreational activities
  • Consistently feeling exhausted or overwhelmed, despite adequate rest or support
  • Dramatic shifts in appetite, sleep patterns, or interest in personal care
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The Importance of Self-Care and Nurturing Emotional Well-Being During Early Parenthood

Actively nurturing one’s emotional well-being and engaging in self-care is crucial for maintaining good mental health during early parenthood. Consider these self-care strategies:

  • Schedule regular “me time” to re-energise and recharge, whether it’s engaging in a hobby, visiting friends, or simply relaxing.
  • Share your feelings, concerns, and challenges with someone you trust, whether it’s your partner, a family member, or a close friend. You may even consider speaking with a professional counsellor.
  • Practise self-compassion and let go of unrealistic expectations or pressures to be the “perfect parent.”
  • Exercise regularly and maintain a balanced, nutritious diet to support both your physical and mental well-being.
  • Prioritise sleep and rest as much as possible, understanding that adequate rest is vital to resilience and emotional health.
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Practical Stress Management Strategies for New Parents: Tips and Resources

Developing and employing stress management techniques can help navigate the challenges of early parenthood. Some effective strategies include:

  • Mindfulness and Relaxation: Practise deep breathing exercises, meditation, or progressive muscle relaxation to manage stress and anxiety in the moment.
  • Time Management: Set realistic goals, break tasks into smaller steps, and delegate responsibilities when possible to help manage parenting and other responsibilities.
  • Establish Routines: Create schedules for feeding, sleeping, and other daily tasks to provide a sense of stability and predictability for both parents and the baby.
  • Social Support: Stay connected with family and friends, join parent support groups, or access online parenting resources to create a sense of community and shared experiences.
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Building a Supportive Network: The Role of Family, Friends, and Professional Support in New Parents’ Mental Health

An essential aspect of mental health first aid for new parents involves building and sustaining a supportive network. Useful strategies include:

  • Encouraging open, honest communication between partners and family members about the challenges faced and emotions experienced.
  • Offering practical assistance, such as providing meals, helping with household tasks, or offering childcare so new parents can enjoy a break.
  • Encouraging new parents to access professional support, such as support groups, parenting classes, or mental health services when appropriate.


Early parenthood is a time of immense joy and significant challenges. By understanding the unique mental health needs and pressures facing new parents, mental health first aiders and caregivers can support, nurture, and encourage resilience during this transformative period. With the right tools, education, and resources, new parents can confidently navigate the challenges of early parenthood and foster lasting well-being for both themselves and their growing families.

Are you interested in becoming a more compassionate and understanding individual while supporting those around you with mental health concerns? Look no further than The Mental Health Coach’s mental health first aid training. Our courses are designed to empower individuals to recognize and respond to mental health concerns in various capacities, including supporting new parents. By investing in your skills and knowledge, you can contribute to the well-being of others while becoming a more compassionate and understanding person overall.

Mental Health First Aid for Parents: Supporting Your Child’s Emotional Well-being

As a parent or guardian, ensuring the emotional well-being of your child is undoubtedly a top priority. However, navigating the complexities of mental health can be a daunting task. This is where Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training comes in, offering valuable skills and insight to support your children’s emotional well-being.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the importance of MHFA training for parents and guardians, as well as how it can empower you to confidently approach mental health challenges with your children.

By understanding the basics of MHFA and learning effective communication techniques, you can create a supportive environment at home where open and honest conversations about mental health are encouraged. Equip yourself with the tools and knowledge necessary to create a safe space where your child can thrive, ensuring their mental health is prioritised and nurtured.

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Understanding the Importance of Mental Health First Aid for Parents and Guardians

Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training offers a valuable opportunity for parents and guardians to be better prepared when faced with mental health challenges. Children and adolescents might experience feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression, which can negatively impact their overall well-being.

Having the ability to understand, recognise, and respond to these issues is an essential part of creating a safe and supportive environment for your family. Some key benefits of MHFA training for parents and guardians include:

  • Increased Mental Health Literacy: Understand the various mental health disorders and their associated signs and symptoms, promoting early intervention and timely support.
  • Improved Communication Skills: Enhance your ability to discuss mental health concerns with your children effectively, fostering trust and encouraging open dialogue.
  • Decreased Stigma: Normalise mental health discussions within your family, which can help break down barriers associated with seeking support and acknowledging mental health concerns.
  • Greater Confidence in Providing Assistance: Feel more self-assured in your ability to offer appropriate support and guidance when faced with mental health challenges.

Identifying Mental Health Concerns in Your Child

Awareness of the signs and symptoms of mental health issues is crucial for parents and guardians. Children and adolescents might not always have the vocabulary or capacity to express their emotions or struggles accurately. Familiarising yourself with the warning signs helps to facilitate proactive support. Some potential indicators of mental health concerns include:

  • Changes in Mood: A child experiencing prolonged or frequent sadness, irritability, or mood swings could be a signal of an underlying issue.
  • Shifts in Behaviour: Withdrawal from social situations and activities they usually enjoy, unexplained aggression, or disinterest in school and academic performance might suggest a mental health concern.
  • Physical Symptoms: Complaints of unexplained aches, pains, or an increased reliance on over-the-counter medications could be signs of emotional distress.
  • Sleeping and Eating Differences: Disruptions in sleep patterns or appetite could indicate anxiety, depression, or other mental health challenges.

Recognising these signs can prompt early intervention, which is crucial for effective support and timely management of mental health issues.

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MHFA Techniques for Communicating with Your Child about Mental Health

Effective communication is vital when discussing mental health concerns with your child. MHFA training can equip you with various techniques to promote open and constructive conversations. Consider the following strategies to ensure your conversations are respectful and supportive:

  • Create a Safe Space: Provide a comfortable environment where your child feels free to express their emotions without fear of judgement or criticism.
  • Active Listening: Pay full attention when your child speaks, showing genuine interest and empathising with their feelings. Refrain from interrupting and avoid assuming you know how they feel.
  • Use Open-Ended Questions: Encourage your child to discuss their thoughts and emotions by asking questions that require more than a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response, such as “Can you tell me more about how you’re feeling?”
  • Be Patient: Some children may take longer to open up or may have difficulty articulating their emotions. Offer reassurance and support, allowing them the time they need to express themselves.
  • Offer Guidance: Help your child explore potential solutions and coping strategies, empowering them to take charge of their mental health journey.

Integrating MHFA Principles into Your Parenting Approach

Incorporating MHFA techniques into your everyday parenting approach can foster a supportive and nurturing home environment where your children feel comfortable discussing their emotions and mental health. Here are some strategies for promoting a mentally healthy household:

  • Establish Routines: Consistent routines can provide a sense of stability and predictability for your child, helping to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.
  • Model Healthy Behaviours: Demonstrate the importance of self-care, stress management, and open communication by practicing these habits yourself.
  • Encourage Social Connections: Support your child in fostering strong connections with friends, family, and their community, as relationships can significantly impact mental health.
  • Validate Emotions: Acknowledge and validate your child’s emotions, demonstrating that their feelings are important and should be taken seriously.
  • Stay Informed: Stay up-to-date with mental health resources, news, and strategies, ensuring you remain knowledgeable and well-equipped to support your child’s emotional well-being.
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Seeking Professional Help and Building a Support Network

While MHFA training equips you with fundamental skills to support your child’s mental health, it’s crucial to recognise when professional assistance may be necessary. If your child exhibits persistent or severe symptoms, consult with mental health professionals, such as psychologists, psychiatrists, or counsellors.

They can provide expert guidance and recommend appropriate treatment options. Additionally, involve your child’s school and educators, as they can contribute to monitoring your child’s well-being and assist in implementing support strategies. Building a strong network of support for your family will help promote mental health resilience and emotional well-being for your child.

By integrating MHFA techniques into your everyday parenting approach, you can create a supportive environment where your child feels comfortable discussing their emotions and mental health concerns. Fostering a mentally healthy home helps cultivate a nurturing space where your children can thrive.

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Enhancing Your Parenting Skills with MHFA Training

Mental Health First Aid training can significantly contribute to your parenting capabilities, providing you with practical skills, effective communication techniques, and valuable understanding of mental health challenges your child may face. By incorporating MHFA principles into your daily interactions and creating a secure, supportive environment, you can foster a strong foundation for your child’s emotional well-being and resilience.

Are you ready to become a more knowledgeable and confident advocate for your child’s mental health? Consider enrolling in a Mental Health First Aid course with The Mental Health Coach. Our courses provide you with the tools and resources you need to help your child navigate their mental health journey. Don’t wait – take the first step towards a brighter future for your family’s mental health. Visit our website to learn more and enroll in a course today.

Loneliness: The Current and Emerging Epidemic Affecting Lives Globally



Loneliness – it’s often perceived as a simple, temporary emotion one might experience during periods of isolation or when feeling disconnected from others. However, in recent years, loneliness has revealed itself as a complex issue that transcends the boundaries of a person’s emotions. Instead, loneliness has evolved into a collective, silent epidemic gripping societies worldwide, posing severe risks to mental health and overall well-being.

As one of the most severe by-products of an increasingly interconnected global society, loneliness affects people from all walks of life. Whether triggered by societal issues like the rapid spread of digital technology or the prevalence of work-from-home policies, the adverse effects of loneliness can no longer be overlooked. What was once considered a stifling yet private emotion is now a significant threat to public health and a source of immense concern for communities and governments alike.

In this article, we delve deeply into the problem of loneliness, discuss its multifaceted implications, and consider various perspectives. We pay special attention to the role of governments in the UK and Australia over the last few years in addressing loneliness as an issue of national importance. This in-depth analysis aims to foster understanding, promote compassion and empathy, and ultimately contribute to the ongoing conversation surrounding the global epidemic of loneliness.



Understanding the Loneliness Epidemic

To comprehend the extent of the loneliness epidemic, it is critical to recognise the different underlying factors contributing to it. Loneliness stems from various sources, including personality traits, mental health issues, social circumstances, geographical location, and the increasing prevalence of remote work practices. Additionally, the LGBTQIA+ community, elderly population, and people with disabilities are particularly vulnerable to experiencing loneliness. These factors reveal the need for targeted interventions from governments, communities, and people to address loneliness.

In a world increasingly reliant on digital technology and online platforms for communication, an ever-growing digital divide further perpetuates loneliness. Those lacking internet access or digital literacy may face immense challenges staying connected with family and friends, exacerbating feelings of isolation. It is essential to identify ways to bridge this gap and ensure that online communication remains accessible, inclusive, and conducive to fostering genuine human connections.

The UK’s Approach to Combating Loneliness

The United Kingdom is at the forefront of governmental action against loneliness by appointing a dedicated Minister for Loneliness in 2018. The UK government has since implemented a National Strategy for Tackling Loneliness, embracing a multi-sector approach designed to address the issue on multiple fronts.

This innovative strategy includes measures to foster social connection, invest in community infrastructure, and support health initiatives. The UK government not only recognises the importance of community engagement but emphasises that each person has a role in combating loneliness. This holistic approach acknowledges that loneliness is a complex issue requiring collaboration to tackle its root causes effectively.

The National Strategy for Tackling Loneliness provides a framework for more coordinated solutions and fosters partnerships between governmental bodies, organisations, and persons in the fight against loneliness. By incorporating lessons from this successful model, other nations have the potential to develop strategies that promote social connection and well-being.


Australia’s Approach to Combating Loneliness

One in four Australians aged between 12 and 89 experience problematic levels of loneliness. At any given time, the estimated prevalence of alarming levels of loneliness is around 5 million Australians. While the financial burden on Australia’s health service has not been quantified, equivalent costs to Medicare in the USA have been estimated at $6.7 billion annually.

Given the high prevalence rates of loneliness and the worsening of this issue due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Australian government has been urged to address significant gaps in the social and healthcare system to deliver a more sustainable, effective and efficient response to address loneliness and social isolation. In response, the federal government implemented a multifaceted approach to combat loneliness, recognising no one-size-fits-all solution to this complex problem.

One key aspect of this approach is the creation of community hubs, such as the Village Hubs Program from Independent Living Assessment, which serve as central gathering places for older individuals to connect. These hubs offer various activities and services to unite more aged Australians and foster community. Additionally, the government has invested in digital initiatives, providing online platforms that allow individuals with similar interests or experiences to connect and form meaningful relationships.



In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Australian government, in partnership with the R U OK? Foundation and The Australian Psychological Society also formally held and discussed a National Strategy to Address Loneliness and Social Isolation in 2021 – 2022. Their aim was the creation of the Ending Loneliness Together (ELT) initiative, which aims to raise awareness and reduce the adverse effects of loneliness and social isolation in our community through evidence-based interventions and advocacy.

Inspired by the work of the UK Campaign to End Loneliness and the growing research evidence of the biological, psychological, social and economic impact of loneliness and social isolation, Ending Loneliness Together has drawn together knowledge from Australian and international universities along with service delivery expertise from community groups, professional organisations, government agencies and skilled volunteers, to address loneliness in Australia.

They have suggested and sought to implement four solutions:

  1. Fund an evidence-based national community awareness campaign to improve understanding of loneliness, challenge public misconceptions and stigma, upskill Australians to manage their loneliness better, and empower others to assist.
  2. Fund the development of a National Social E-Health Portal, including developing an online database of all health and community sector programs and services tackling loneliness and social isolation nationwide to redirect at-risk individuals to the appropriate local solutions.
  3. Develop evidence-based frameworks to guide program and service providers to identify, assess, monitor and refer individuals experiencing or at risk of loneliness to existing services and other informal pathways.
  4. Develop a set of national competencies and training modules to facilitate best practice approaches to assist socially vulnerable people, including those with mental ill health.

Overall, Australia’s proactive steps towards combating loneliness are making significant strides in promoting social connectedness. By recognising the importance of such suggested strategies, we can look forward to a progressive approach to the future of mental health services within Australia.

Implementing Community Solutions to Loneliness

While governmental action is crucial in addressing the loneliness epidemic, each community is instrumental in mitigating feelings of isolation and fostering social connection. Local organisations, such as community centres, libraries, and sports clubs, can provide safe spaces for people to engage in meaningful activities and establish supportive networks. By supporting these grassroots initiatives, communities can facilitate meaningful connections and enable a sense of belonging among residents.

In Australia, organisations such as Beyond Blue and The Australian Shed Movement are community initiatives that have gained traction in recent years. By offering targeted programs, these organisations contribute to forging social connections and encouraging people to seek support when feeling lonely. Engaging with such community resources is critical in alleviating the loneliness epidemic.


The Role of Technology in Tackling Loneliness

Despite technology’s reputation for contributing to feelings of isolation, it can also provide innovative solutions that combat loneliness and foster connection. The global COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the power of technology in connecting people through virtual events and experiences during enforced isolation. Beyond the pandemic, these virtual engagements have the potential to bridge geographical divides and create a renewed sense of global community.

Developing digital tools that promote social interaction, empathy, and understanding is essential to reduce loneliness. Online forums, discussion groups, and community-specific platforms can foster connections between persons with similar experiences, increase access to supportive networks, and ultimately empower users to build relationships in a digital environment. By focusing on building digital connections, we can harness the power of technology to transform our digital landscape into one that is inclusive, compassionate, and conducive to fostering genuine relationships.


Fostering a World of Connection

The loneliness epidemic presents a significant challenge for both individuals and communities around the globe. Addressing it requires a multi-faceted approach, acknowledging the complex nature of the issue and incorporating insights from successful models like the UK’s National Strategy for Tackling Loneliness. By fostering a collaborative effort involving governments, communities, organisations, and individuals, we can create a more connected world and less burdened by the weight of isolation.

Finding innovative ways to combat loneliness, utilising technology to build connections, and supporting grassroots community initiatives are essential steps in our journey to create a future in which loneliness is acknowledged, understood, and more manageable for those who experience it. By engaging with the issue of loneliness on both a societal and personal level, we can work together to minimise its impact and promote a brighter, more socially connected world for all.

That said, we at The Mental Health Coach offer mental health first aid courses, counselling, coaching, and much more to help individuals and groups stay on top of their mental health needs. Contact us today and get the expert help you need from our mental health coach!

Common Relationship Problems

All couples argue for several reasons. In fact, research from ScienceDaily tells us that even happy and fulfilled couples have their moments. Interestingly, happy couples tend to argue about the exact same things as unhappy couples – topics like marriage, children, money, in-laws, and their intimacy.

Every single amorous relationship will experience turbulence at some point. To some extent, disagreement can be healthy, and challenge couples to grow together.

However, when arguments become frequent, this is a sign that something needs to change on one or both sides of the relationship.

For couples, understanding the main sources of conflict can be useful in helping them mitigate issues. According to the Australian Institute of Professional Counsellors (AIPC), sources of marital conflict come from unmet needs, wants, and desires. Issues related to communication, money, and trust may soon follow.

Below are the sources of common relationship problems, as well as how to prevent them from escalating.

Improper Communication

We all know how important communication is in all areas of life. Without proper communication, people are unable to convey their needs or share their points of view in a sensible manner. That’s why communication skills are essential for relationship success.

If communication is the basis of any good relationship, that means poor communication is capable of ruining relationships on its own. It’s interesting how most people vouch for open communication between partners, but when push comes to shove, they don’t apply that practice to their own marriage.

That doesn’t mean that communicating with a partner is an easy task. Just like empathy, communication is a skill that can – and should – be mastered. Besides, certain topics can be uncomfortable to talk about. The more couples get used to dutifully practising proper communication, the easier it’ll be for them to power through difficult topics.

As far as communication goes, it’s better to feel uncomfortable than to say nothing at all. So talk to each other, and be candid about it.

As health writer and editor Sanjana Gupta writes for VeryWellMind, “secrecy tends to erode trust, so when your partner is able to be transparent and allows space to explore topics that might trigger your mistrust, you can begin to feel more at ease and begin to let your guard down.”

Poor communication can range from giving someone the silent treatment to speaking in accusatory tones. Non-verbal communication also plays a role. Sometimes, our feelings don’t match our words – and it’s often our facial expressions and gestures that matter most. If you say something when you mean something else, this will only weaken a bond.

“If people in a relationship can master communication, you’ll be far less likely to experience other common relationship problems,” Nationally Board Certified Counsellor Meaghan Rice writes for Talkspace.

Money Problems

Relationships and money go together. This is a hard pill to swallow, as most of us want a relationship based on love and passion alone. Unfortunately, that’s not how relationships work.

In fact, financial issues are one of the biggest reasons for broken marriages, with a third of adults reporting that money is a source of conflict with their partners.

Of course, a lack of communication is part of the equation. Because money is such a sensitive discussion topic, many couples avoid talking about their financial situations early in their relationship. This may lead to mistrust and financial trouble down the road, because one or both parties were dishonest about their spending habits in the beginning.

Therefore, if you’re committed to a relationship, be honest about your finances from the start. This simple behaviour is enough to prevent serious financial issues and arguments as a couple.

Traumatic Events

If a partner has been a victim of trauma, it’s not their fault. Still, it can be challenging to try to figure someone out when not even they know what’s going on.

Traumatic events come in many forms. When we talk about trauma, we’re talking about past troubling situations such as discrimination, homelessness, neglect, sexual and/or emotional abuse, and loss.

“When someone is considered traumatised by an experience, it means that the intense emotions from the event are essentially stuck in their nervous system,” says Christy O’Shoney, psychotherapist at myTherapyNYC.

These emotions include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Aggression
  • Anxiety and/or panic attacks
  • Depression
  • Agitation
  • Shaking
  • Sobbing
  • Refusing to engage in conversation

According to O’Shoney, “because trauma can interrupt emotional processing, those who have experienced trauma often struggle to articulate what is really going on inside of them.” For this reason, it’s necessary to develop compassion for your partner and educate yourself on trauma.

Perhaps, your partner may not be aware that trauma may result in such behaviours. In this case, having both of you seek information about their specific trauma can be enlightening.

Understandably, it can be exhausting for any couple to power through traumatic events – particularly when both members have dealt with some kind of trauma. In this case, seeking mental help is the smarter solution.

A Lack of Trust

If you crumple a piece of paper, you may undo it. But the wrinkles will remain.

This is why trust is such a vital component in healthy relationships: once it disintegrates, it’s hard to earn it back. Trusting your partner brings the piece of mind that the person you’re with will always be on your side. That they mean what they say. And that they’re able to keep promises.

On the flip side, “when your partner’s actions are not aligned with their words, you will begin to learn that they are not trustworthy. Repeated violations or consistent hurtful behaviours erode trust,” says Doctor of Psychology Sabrina Romanoff.

Besides, a lack of trust rarely walks alone. Along with it may come doubt, insecurity, jealousy, and suspicion. All of which are telltale signs of when a relationship is about to crumble.

If Both Want It, Both Can Make It Work

In the words of Amy Rauer, associate professor of child and family studies,”if couples feel that they can work together to resolve their issues, it may give them the confidence to move on to tackling the more difficult issues.” A relationship means commitment, which means teamwork at every step.

Just because there’s a problem, that doesn’t necessarily mean a relationship is in trouble. Values, opinions, and beliefs will clash at one point, even if you’re both on cloud nine.

It’s up to the couple to resolve the issue through open and honest communication, or allow it to escalate to a point of no return. As long as the two members are willing to make things work, any common relationship problem can be resolved.

With that in mind, take time to assess whether you’re taking your partner’s wants and needs into consideration, and vice-versa. Talk openly and often, even if it’s an uncomfortable topic to discuss.

The sooner couples choose to deal with their relationship problems together, the less room they’ll make for suspicions and accusations in the long term.

The Importance of Trust in the Workplace – and What Happens When it’s Lacking

For any organisation to succeed, all team members should cultivate trust among themselves. Because trust is a key enabler of Psychological Safety in the workplace, it should be the foundation of every decision within an organisation.

In his research, neuroeconomist Paul J. Zak has found that “building a culture of trust is what makes a meaningful difference.” This supports the fact that 55% of CEOs view a lack of trust as threat to their organisation’s growth, according to PwC’s 2016 global CEO survey,

Without trust, none of us can foster mature social relationships, no matter how “mature” we may consider ourselves to be.

Besides, trust-based relationships shouldn’t only be between employee to employer, but also between employees. We must trust that the group of people we share our lives with are dependable, whether they’re managers or coworkers. Otherwise, the workplace could become a hub of recurring conflict.

Despite leaders nodding along to these words, few of them have done something, if anything, to increase trust in the workplace. Which is understandable, as most of them may not know where to begin.

In this article, we’ll share actionable tips to help you strengthen trust relationships and Psychological Safety at work.

How Do You Build Trust in the Workplace?

Recognise excellence immediately

Recognition will always be the most valuable reward for good work. According to founder and president of WebFX William Craig, in 2017, around 90% of employees who received recognition from their boss indicated higher levels of trust in that boss. Yet, of those employees who received no recognition, “only 48% indicated they trusted their higher-ups.”

Leaders may feel tempted to congratulate their employees privately, but public and immediate recognition is powerful. In his article The Neuroscience of Trust for the Harvard Business Review, Paul J. Zak writes:

“Public recognition not only uses the power of the crowd to celebrate successes, but also inspires others to aim for excellence. And it gives top performers a forum for sharing best practices, so others can learn from them.”

That’s why it’s essential to provide employees with frequent recognition in real time. Besides offering honest verbal praise, you can also send them thank-you messages and cards, as well as give them awards and bonuses.

Improve Listening Skills

Every single day, supervisors get brand new opportunities to listen to their employees’ input. Trouble is, some of them have a distorted notion of what it means to really listen. This explains why employees may have conversations with their superiors and not feel heard at any moment.

Hearing the words they say is one thing. Considering their feedback and applying what seems feasible is another. Reasonably explaining why a suggestion shouldn’t be implemented is also a part of listening.

Plus, when asking your employees questions, make sure to actively listen and ask for clarification, if needed. Encourage them to elaborate further. Most importantly, be interested in what they have to say, whether you agree with it or not. After all, a big part of listening is taking in both positive and negative feedback while demonstrating openness.

Be Transparent

Think of the people you trust. You know, those people you feel like you can talk to about anything. What makes them trustworthy to you?

You trust them because you know they’ll never lie to you. Regardless of the situation, they’ll never sugar coat things. Yet, they’ll also consider your feelings in the process. That’s what transparency entails: honesty and empathy.

Whenever you’re discussing changes to business processes, your team should never be out of the loop. Even if things are looking down – especially if things are looking down. By informing them of imminent changes and encouraging their input, you’ll show them that their participation is essential.

Conversely, your employees won’t trust you if they learn about major changes through someone else. They’ll just assume you don’t care about them enough to share company transitions with them. And they’ll be right.

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What Does Trust Enable in the Workplace?

Around 80% of respondents of a 2019 survey by the HR Research Institute believe engagement is “highly linked to trust in the relationship with the immediate supervisor.” That’s only natural, since trust is known for building employee engagement, driving higher quality work, and improving results for any company.

Besides, those working at high trust companies have reported a 74% decrease in stress, a 106% increase in energy, a 50% increase in productivity, 13% fewer sick days, a 76% increase in engagement, a 29% increase in satisfaction, and 40% less burnout. This data is based on Paul J. Zak’s research.

When employees feel that they can be trusted and trust others, the office – be it physical or virtual –  becomes a safe place. When people feel safe, welcome, and seen, they’ll return the favour. And they’ll be happy to do so.

How Does Trust Get Eroded?

When a superior puts their needs above the best interests of the company, trust tends to crumble. Breaking promises and micromanaging your team are also fail-proof ways to erode trust. And, once broken, trust can be difficult to rebuild. It’s possible, but it takes double the work.

Here are some ways you may be breaking trust within your organisation:

  • Withholding information from one or more groups of people.
  • Favouring a select group of people over another, even if that means you’re attempting to create a “healthy competitive environment.”
  • Micromanaging your team, which is key to increase demotivation and staff turnover.

Surprisingly, certain leaders mean well when doing such things. Perhaps they’re trying to motivate their employees to work harder, but are clearly falling flat in their endeavours. Avoiding the above forms of trust erosion will make a difference on your relationship with your team — as well as their relationship with you and the organisation.

What Happens When Trust Levels Are Low?

“In my work helping hundreds of organisations improve their company cultures, I’ve found that a lack of trust is often at the core of dysfunctional office environments,” says Shelley Smith, founder and CEO of the Premier Rapport consulting firm.

When trust levels are low, team members will fail to trust team leaders, and vice-versa. The result? Employees may adopt an “it’s just a job” mindset and do the bare minimum, all while planning their resignation. Whereas employees may engage in favouritism, only trusting and including a specific group of people.

This type of behaviour from all angles may spread in all directions, which could result in withholding of information, gossip, personality clashes, and a lack of productivity. Suddenly, low trust levels prevent the entire organisation from moving forward.

Trust Should Be At the Cornerstone of Any Successful Organisation

There’s no Psychological Safety without trust. And when there’s no Psychological Safety, an organisation leaves growth opportunities on the table.

For best results, organisations should build and foster trust in all directions. Yes, the team should absolutely trust their leader. However, if the leader doesn’t trust the team and the team members don’t trust each other, all relationships will be one-sided. And therefore, ineffective.

In the words of William Craig,”trusting one another is one of the most valuable commodities we possess.” Organisations built on a wobbly concept of trust and doing nothing to reinforce it will eventually collapse.