Coaching in the Forthcoming Global Mental Health Pandemic - International Coaching Federation
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Coaching in the Forthcoming Global Mental Health Pandemic

Posted by Verity Symcox | November 11, 2020 | Comments (9)

COVID-19 has Changed Coaching

In the weeks leading up to the UK’s coronavirus lockdown, I was feeling incredibly anxious, unusually tense and to be honest, frightened. I knew my mental well-being wasn’t great and yet acknowledging this was difficult. Luckily for me, these emotions were short lived, and I quickly bounced back into a more positive place. Listening to others, I know I am not alone in my recent mental health experiences. More and more people are speaking out about their COVID-19 mental health problems.

The world, as we know it, is currently changing daily and still, the prevalence of mental illness continues to rise. COVD-19 has changed coaching by encouraging coaches who wouldn’t normally work with mental health to do just this. I am inspired by the volume of coaches who have stepped up and supported mental health during this time. I hope that this will continue.

In a distant, pre-COVID-19 life, it was estimated that by 2030, mental health issues could cost the global economy up to $16 trillion USD. With the arrival of a global viral pandemic and the subsequent unprecedented worldwide uncertainty, unpredictability and economic instability, mental health has become worse. In fact, some mental health experts believe that when the world was (rightly) busy treating coronavirus victims and reducing transmission, not enough attention was given to providing psychological support. Consequently, the World Health Organization has declared poor mental health as the forthcoming pandemic.

My postgraduate research, conducted in 2019, explored coaching and mental health. My findings highlight numerous coaching challenges when clients present with poor mental health and/or low well-being. I discovered that many coaches want to coach the “whole” client, including mental health if it is in service of the client and their goals. These same coaches shared a fear of breaking coaching boundaries, making premature referrals and being sued.

Interestingly, because of COVD-19, coaches have recently had many opportunities to work with mental health as many pro-bono coaching initiatives have sprung up. Globally, thousands of coaches jumped at the opportunity to support the mental health of others, accredited or not. In fact, so many coaches applied for one UK initiative that the founder Craig Newman encountered challenges while onboarding coaches and ensuring appropriate credentialing, training or accreditation for the task at hand.

Some experts at the World Economic Forum, believe that there will be a significant and sustained global decline in mental health. If this is the case, poor mental health will become normal in coaching. Coaches can’t continually refer clients. COVID-19 has facilitated a shift in coaching practice, one that coaches have positively responded to, potentially complexifying boundaries and professional standards.

google trends data on anxiety during covid-19

Recent intelligence from Google Trends highlights that since lockdown became reality, anxiety is a more popular search term than depression. While this data only provides an indication of societal tendencies, it offers coaches time to upskill and ensure their coaching practice is fit for future purpose. Knowing that predominately clients are feeling anxious, coaches can ensure they can identify the symptoms, know how to appropriately support positive mental health, and of course know when to refer.

In 2009, Anthony Grant documented that improved workplace well-being was a byproduct and benefit of coaching practice. Coaching during COVID-19 has established that this benefit is indeed in demand. Organizations hiring coaches to support mental health and well-being could become a mainstream coaching discipline.

If the statistics are correct, then developing a professional coaching culture which embraces mental health is a necessity for professional survival in a rapidly changing landscape. COVID-19 has changed coaching. I hope that coaches do continue to diversify, upskill and meet the mental health needs of all clients.

We’ve already demonstrated we can do it!

verity symcox headshot

Verity Symcox

Verity Symcox is a Coach and Behavioral Change Specialist with a passion for understanding and researching mental health within coaching practice. Verity has a background in counseling studies (CPCAB) and a MSc in Coaching and Behavioral Change from Henley Business School, UK. Verity began coaching in 2012, becoming a qualified Hermann Brain Dominance Practitioner (HBDI). She is also a certified NLP practitioner. Before coaching, Verity ran a successful retail business winning her several regional business awards where she was avid about promoting entrepreneurship and SME business growth. Verity’s passion for exploring mental health within coaching practice comes from numerous coaching experiences that have shaped her career and her desire to ensure coaching practice meets the needs of all clients, in which promoting mental wellness is integral to the natural coaching process.

The views and opinions expressed in guest posts featured on this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of the International Coach Federation (ICF). The publication of a guest post on the ICF Blog does not equate to an ICF endorsement or guarantee of the products or services provided by the author.

Comments (9)

  1. Gyan Sagar says:

    Lovely blog post. Helpful post about all student. Your blog always inspired and well quality content..I am always like your blog..Thanks for sharing this.

  2. Leon says:

    God Willing, the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic will end when Zionist Israel gives Palestine back to the Palestinians.

  3. MacAndro says:

    Nice Post. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Thanks for posting the news.

  5. Sophia says:

    Thanks for the information.

  6. Richard says:

    Great insight!

  7. Samuvel says:

    The info you have shared is informative and helpful for the present scenario, thanks for sharing.

  8. Naraabi says:

    THANKYOU FOR SHARING THIS INFORMATION
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