Mental health and team building events

Mental health and team building events

A page has been added to our website about team building for introverts. The article also covers people with social anxiety; it is estimated that in the US (we haven’t found statistics for the UK but it must be similar) 6.8% of people suffer from social anxiety disorder, which means that their anxiety is serious enough to be diagnosed. The number of people who have a tendency towards shyness will increase much more towards the 50% mark and, although it’s not as severe as a disorder, it is still unpleasant and uncomfortable when you’re doing something like attending a team building event.

There are many forms of mental illness. Depression is the most common mental health issue, affecting around 10% of people. Many people affected by mental health issues will not be working, but many will be. There are also life events that will change how people feel on a temporary basis, for example relationship break ups and bereavements. When all of this is taken into account there will be a significant number of people in the room on any given team building day who are not feeling at their best.

Now, this blog is about fun team building events and this article is not supposed to be a complete dampener. The best team building illustrates diversity. We, and the moods that we are experiencing, are not all the same. Good team building helps people to look at others differently and to understand them better.

Team building is, by nature, an extroverted activity. That is, in a sense, one of its weaknesses, particularly when the activities used are not very sophisticated. It is sometimes criticised and it is likely that those who dislike it the most are those who prefer not to take part in high energy, outgoing activities. When you see it criticised the activities given as examples tend to be basic and unsophisticated and this is frustrating for those of us in the industry who know what can really be done.  The best team building events accommodate everyone, so some can ‘go for it’ and others can hold back and observe. The most experienced instructors understand this and will know the difference between the introvert and extrovert dynamic.

However, there is another level. There will be people on every event who are experiencing powerful internal emotions that they are struggling to overcome. They may look disengaged, even unfriendly and as if they don’t want to be there. They may look like a spoil sport. Colleagues may also sense this, and if an instructor barracks them (even in a ‘sporting’ way) it can spiral further downwards. Kindness and gentle understanding, on the other hand, can have the opposite effect.

You rarely know what the other person is going through, whether you’re being shouted at on the road for a minor transgression or having to deal, suddenly, with an unreasonably angry person in the supermarket. As a team building instructor you, too, have to remember that everyone is different. Always be aware that the person who seems to be disengaged, even moody, may be dealing with emotions that are nothing to do with the event in front of you.


1 Comment

  1. jackiebarrie · July 4, 2013 Reply

    Have you seen the book ‘Quiet’?

    Perhaps it’s time for the rise of the introvert!

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