The True Cost of Poor Workplace Mental Health.

and some good practices for business (a 4 minute read with links in blue)

In recent years there has been a growing awareness of the impact of poor mental health on business performance and the toll it is taking on many lives. Many of us though might not be fully aware of just what that means to the bottom line of our business.

Amongst the plethora of published articles we found concerning statistics that highlighted the need for proactive intervention. That’s what’s inspired us to launch a new social enterprise, Mind Over Mountains.

In 2017 the Centre for Mental Health reported that poor mental health costs UK business £34.9 billion a year – £1300 for every worker.  This has risen 35% in just 10 years and excludes the cost to wider society. Furthermore the Mental Health Foundation found:

  • Almost 15% of people experience mental health problems in the workplace.
  • 12.7% of all sickness absence days taken in the UK can be attributed to mental health conditions.
  • Better mental health support in the workplace could save UK businesses up to £8 billion a year.

The Department of Health also reported back in 2011 that the overall cost to society was £105 billion per annum. Poor mental health is now the largest cause of disability in the UK, 43% more than even cancer or cardiovascular disease amounting to a 4% hit to GDP.

We think this is just the tip of the iceberg. The numbers we found did not factor in the hidden cost for colleagues and teams shouldering the burden of stress, depression, anxiety or even deeper issues when they surface at work.

Presenteeism, attending work whilst ill and working at reduced productivity, is another factor that places even more emphasis on the practical and emotional support of colleagues. Deloitte estimate presenteeism to cost UK business an additional £11 – £19 billion per annum. Over the last decade absentee days have been decreasing but presenteeism and absenteeism due to mental health issues have been increasing.

Poor mental health is a systemic issue with multifaceted, complex causes that conspire together to knock resilience and wellbeing. Should business be investing in mental health especially when so many causes are societal? The simple truth is that promoting mental well-being combined with providing practical tools to support resilience and an ethos that removes the stigma of mental health can present a sound investment.

Improved well-being and resilience against adversity and mental ill health impact across a broad range of areas and will have significant economic benefits to your business. 

So what can practically be done?” There are opportunities for employers to achieve better returns on investment by providing more interventions at organisational culture and proactive stages enabling employees to thrive, rather than intervening at very late stages. ” Deloitte 2018

Put simply there is a compelling case for investing proactively in prevention, resilience and early intervention. Again Deloitte in their excellent white paper point to a scale of returns:
9:1 ROI on an enterprise wide approach
6:1 ROI on specific proactive interventions
5:1 ROI for reactive interventions
Here lies a compelling motivation for devising, managing and monitoring effective strategies. Good mental health is about feeling good about your life and being able to cope with problems when they happen. We’ve devised a set of useful interventions that can form part of an effective approach to mental health in the workplace.

“A growing and compelling body of research is proving that exercising and mindfulness in nature with peer support is a vital component for improving mental wellbeing” Mind

Mind Over Mountains

We are passionate about making mental well-being tools accessible for anyone who needs them. We’ve specifically designed Mind Over Mountains as a cost effective and proactive intervention within your overall Mental Health Strategy.

We provide short, impactful residential interventions in stunning mountain locations where we make available practical tools, professional counselling and a process of peer support. It’s an unrivalled way to help reset those starting to find life knocking them off balance. This translates to the bottom line of the work they do for you. 

It’s increasingly clear to all of us that employees who are equipped with tools to be more resilient and have agency over their situation are more productive and have more energy and positivity. Employees who feel fulfilled are more engaged in the business, less sick and ultimately more likely to stay with you. 

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Many employees may not have access or the incentive to the discretionary spend of making an investment in their personal wellbeing. We also recognise that budgets are tight for all businesses at present. Mind Over Mountainsis funded in a unique way, enabling anyone or any business to access this vital service. As a not for profit our mission is to provide evidence based and fully accessible programmes delivered by experts.

Being a social enterprise means we can offer this at a low price where all surpluses will be ploughed back into the ongoing development of the organisation. We are seeking true partnerships where a modest investment can sustain a very broad impact on mental health. We’d love to engage with you about how we can support your business. Please feel free to contact us for a no obligation discussion about partnership as we begin this exciting journey towards better mental health for our biggest asset – our people.

Thanks for reading this



Something on the nature of Motivation and Commitment..

Have you ever felt totally present, alive, energised and in flow at work?

What does it take to get into that higher state of being and performance?

It’s something in my coaching practice that occupies a lot of my clients who present as tired, sometimes burnt out, often lost in the system and struggling to make headway in the complex organisations / relationships we humans engineer for ourselves.

Many coaching conversations seem to be much more productive when they take place in nature, during long walks in the Welsh Hills. There’s something about being outside in fresh air, up high or by fast flowing water that calms the inner critic and helps us see more clearly to find the agency we need.

There’s also something incredibly important about a “whole body commitment” to a course of action. If you think about the commitments you make – which ones are the strongest? Of course at work we regularly intellectually commit to a course of action with our heads. Are your commitments highly congruent with your whole body? does that commitment bring you alive, energise you and bring you to a new level of performance? – or are you truthfully often just transacting to get the job done? or do enough? – There’s something about a head, heart and gut commitment that motivates us beyond performing the mundane and elevates us.

It was at just such a moment in November 2018 that I experiences a “whole body commitment” to a challenge beyond anything I would have dreamed possible just a year ago. I’ve been transfixed for a number of years by athletes I considered to be achieving the impossible – riding across a continent in less that 10 days. These phenomenal men and women seem to summon super human strength to propel themselves 2-300 miles a day completely self supported during the annual Transcontinental Race (TCR).

On that November morning I remember distinctly thinking as I commenced a 220km ride for the first time – “I wonder if TCR is within my reach?” and then noticing a nervous, fearful excitement inhabit my whole body that erupted in a beaming smile and a shout at the wind – YES let’s do this!”. This quickly followed by the kind of energetic fear you get when when you’ve spooked yourself – adrenaline flowing, a bit of a shiver and an inner voice saying “you’re having a laugh Chris”

“Have you got one challenge in your life at present that thrills and frightens you (healthily) in equal measure?”

I’ve been here before, back in 2015 I started running multi-day marathons on long distance trails around the UK, culminating in a number of 7 marathons in 7 days efforts. there’s something about a tangible challenge, with clear targets, obvious topics to work through (nutrition, navigation, fitness training, kit, logistics, fund raising) that excites me to my core. For others, the thrill / fear mechanism may be triggered by different encounters. But how many of us ignore that spark of possibility and bury it in the humdrum & distractions of our day to day lives?

This time was different, this time was getting very serious. To even be considered for a place on the TCR one needs to be a serious athlete, cognisant of the significant risks and efforts required to achieve 4000km and the equivalent of 5 ascents of Everest you traverse Europe from East to West. You need to demonstrate that you can keep going long after your legs have screamed enough and your neck can no longer hold up your head. You need to find a route, manage 8000 calories of food intake a day and be wary of the risks as you ride night after night through 30 degree summer heat – but still this commitment thrills me and frightens me in equal measure.

So are you paying attention to the wee voice inside that speaks of possibility? are you giving it air time? space to gestate and be fully heard? – Are you giving yourself the opportunity to frighten yourself, to stretch and grow into a potential not yet realised?

Thanks for reading this, I’d be delighted to hear from you if this article has stirred up some thoughts that you would like to process or to just to be in touch about this year’s TCR. In the meantime, if you’d like to know more – Chris Spray TCRNo7 page

Reducing the performance lag after major change.

InvestOver the last 5 years I’ve been involved in many change programmes; Restructures, new business systems, new management teams, new facility start ups.

I can honestly say that leaders in every case have the best intentions for their business and for their employees.  The best change programmes I’ve worked in have balanced the needs of the business with the vital “sense making” that comes as ended working relationships are grieved, new relationships are formed and the business strives to stabilise, normalise and optimise the change to deliver the results promised.

Sadly though, in my capacity coaching people through these transitions, I  regularly encounter clients who feel their businesses have simply got it wrong for the survivors.  People come to me with unhelpful legacy behaviours and beliefs (from themselves and their colleagues), scars from the past regimen, unaligned agendas, transgression of values, unspoken concerns about the future and other damaging symptoms.

“Are you considering the vital process of resetting relationships and letting go of the past during your change?”

Once the dust settles and the new system / department / team / facility etc is in place, what are you doing to help people make sense of the new world and to reset a new level of commitment to perform?

Are we spending too much time worried about the consequences for those that leave during a change and too little for the survivors left running the show?

It takes intention, vulnerability, confidence and courage for your people to “get real” with each other about how they’re feeling after a change.  Sometimes your people have been too busy to even know how they’re feeling or the thoughts that need to be properly attended to.  As leaders we crave feedback so we can bring our people together and line them up behind the common endeavours of the business.  So how do we go about this with a minimum of intervention and time lag to performance?

As you’d expect this is where I ply my wares:

” I don’t know quite how he did it but Chris created an amazing atmosphere in which my team could really explore some fundamental issues. We have all come back stronger and lighter, thanks to the shedding of unwanted baggage.”

I was particularly proud of this feedback from a recent intervention with a team that had gone through a significant leadership transition and restructure.  No two interventions are the same but common to all of them is:

  • The creation of some safe space that properly allows your team to be listened to well by each other.
  • Identification and shedding of unhelpful or old beliefs / constraints.
  • An understanding of the resources available to the team both internal and external.
  • Visualising of the future – roles, success, pitfalls, relationships.
  • Commitment to something new.

This reset activity can and will happen informally over time through the storm, norm perform cycle.  It doesn’t always land in a good place though and sometimes relationships can be irrevocably damaged.  Sometimes you suffer the pain of losing good people even with your best intentions.

What I am offering is a chance to fast track through some of the relationship difficulties by helping your team really understand where everyone is coming from and walking in each others shoes.

If you’d like to talk through any of these themes then of course I’d be delighted to support and help you move on from a tough change.  Please do message me and we can set up a call under no obligation on your part.


Thanks for reading this.


What to look for in a great coach…



Good and bad coaching abounds.  How do we sift through the plethora of offerings to find that most valuable of performance enhancing relationships?

There are many coaches in the world offering a huge variety of frameworks, 12 step plans, methodologies and ideologies.  As in any population there are exceptional coaches out there (I’ve met many) and charlatans (I’ve met many more).  So if you’re looking for a transformational coaching relationship what is the difference that makes the difference?  What qualities are you looking for before you invest your hard earned cash in a coaching relationship?

1.  It’s all about you.

There is a special quality that great coaches are able to develop with their clients.  It’s a quality I can only describe as totally present but almost invisible.  It’s a quality of listening that allows you to fully explore what’s happening for you with nothing in the way.  If you’ve experienced this you will understand just how powerful it is to enter and work in this space.  It’s completely about you and for you.

2.  It’s a creative process.

Great coaches don’t stick to models and styles.  Great coaches have the wisdom, skill and flexibility to adapt to your needs.  Great coaching is more like free form jazz is to music; riffing with the client using a wealth of technical skill, in sync and in harmony.  It’s an art and not a science and it is about developing movement forward with options.  I would suggest, steer clear of coaches that espouse one particular style or form of coaching, vanilla is not the right flavour.  Great musicians aren’t born, they work hard to hone their skills.  It’s the same with the vocation of coaching.  Great coaches improvise because they’ve mastered their art.

3.  It’s about your WHOLE story.

Great coaches help you to “land” your story, to become the author of your life based on your values and the way you interact with your experience.  Through generous listening, appreciative enquiry and the right questions, a great coach grounds and centres you in a fulfilling way that holds a mirror up to your story.  Your behaviours are a result of your beliefs, values, skills, capability, environment and goals.  The trouble is, often all of these things operate subliminally for you.  A great coach will enable you to bring these to life as you tell your story.  It’s a bit like stepping out of the dance for a while, heading up to the balcony and seeing what’s happening on the floor below.

4.  It’s about accountability.

A great coach will help you develop accountability by clarifying and honing your goals to a point where they become compelling.  They will take comprehensive notes and present them in a form that makes your story easy to follow and intuitive.  When they check in with you they will already be prepared; up to speed with your story and walking beside you with GENUINE interest.  Great coaches pursue their vocation because they are absolutely committed to delivering for their client.

If you’d like to learn more about the way we have developed our coaching practice to the benefit of our clients please message or call.  We are passionate about what we do and we offer a completely free and confidential initial consultation so you can establish whether what we offer is right for you.

Chris Spray

Founder of Spring Coaching


What are the proven benefits of new and unexpected experiences?


For more than 10 years now my leadership development practice has continued to evolve as I strive to deliver strong performance outcomes for my customers.

Through this process, many themes have emerged about excellence and best practice, not least when we consider the power of taking people away from their day job and immersing them in something new and unexpected. How can we become excellent at developing fresh insight and creativity?


Why is it that we have our best ideas when we are least expecting them?


We intuitively know that when we’re at an impasse or feeling stressed about delivering new thinking to our organisation, the ideas can stop flowing. Often doing something less taxing or taking ourselves away from “the problem” achieves the flash of inspiration we need; a walk in the park, cooking, mowing the lawn. There is something about taking ourselves out of the line of fire that leads to that Eureka moment (it’s no coincidence that most famous of EUREKA moments happened whilst stepping into a bath!).

7 marathons in 7 days: An auspicious start

Friday 4th September 18:30.

Some poor soul had brought the central borderlands train network of England and Wales to a standstill by flinging themselves in front of a train at Shrewsbury.  We trundled through Wales at snails pace and missed out on our connection in Newport.

The taxi driver rubbed his hands with glee as we discovered it was going to be 3 hours until the next train and he was our only opportunity of a decent nights sleep.

“How much will it be?”

“I don’t know bud, you’ll be on the meter but I can get you there quick.”

Wow and how quick?  Han Solo has nothing on this guy as we red lined along the M4 in the Millennium Nissan (she’s outrun Empire cruisers throughout Gwent and beyond).

“Where do you need to be bud?  My sat nav is so ancient it won’t help when we get out there.”  Where were we going? – Siri to the rescue.

Finally, the pumping Friday night metropolis of Chepstow came into view.  We passed several characters from the Viz comic as we pulled up outside the Coach and Horses Inn (boob tubes and rolls of pink flesh), paid the hefty fare and crossed the threshold.

“No one told me you was coming” said the nonplussed barman, escorting us to a fusty room straight out of the 70s.  “You’ll have to pay tonight mind boys he said eying is up suspiciously”.

Nice.  Grabbing some cash at an ATM, leaping over spilt chips and a little vomit and doffing our caps to the doormen, we got back to our digs.

An auspicious start: the boys of South Wales border badlands raced their Ford Foci in the street below and the pumping sound systems filled the air.  Reminded me of Southend – party town.

03:00 – the kebab filled masses skipped gaily under our window and then there was quiet.

04:20 I woke to a “ffs” from Richard.  “What? What is it? Is my snoring keeping you awake?” (Most obvious culprit).

“Nope this blister on my little toe hurts like a bastard.”  Cheers.

Saturday was going to be a long day…

And then the bed springs in the next room started to creak with rhythmic fury and a low moan filled the air.  What joy, living the dream.

05:30 Hmm

7 marathons in 7 days itinerary

Our hardcore 7 marathons in 7 days is about to start.

offas-dyke-037Richard and I are busying ourselves with final preparations, weather reports, admin and food lists.  It’s surprising just how much we have to consider alongside the training to put ourselves in the best position to complete this challenge.
We’ve had FANTASTIC support so far, thank you so much for your sponsorship, advice and other support to help make this happen. We’ve just broken through the £2000 mark on our way to the next milestone.
A number of friends and family are dropping by to offer moral support and even thrash along with us over the week.  You are most welcome to join us if you feel you’d like to be there.
We will be taking all of our own gear and food with us, carrying around 15 kilos each.
On Saturday morning we will be releasing the details of our tracking website in order that people can follow along with us and find us should we reach a perilous moment!
Our itinerary is below, now let’s just get on and do this!  Roll on Prestatyn on the 11th.
 Can you support us and our two charities?

Getting fitter in your forties using comfort stretch panic


What sort of thoughts can help us get active by thinking about just becoming fitter?


My good friend Rich and I have just completed our fourth week of hard training in our quest to be ready for a 277km in 7 days assault on Offa’s Dyke by foot this September.  Training has so far built up to 20 miles of walking / running each a day and I’ve also been commuting to work by bike with a round trip of up to 50km.  So how did we get to be so active?… it didn’t happen overnight….

Neither of us are by any means elite “fitties” but in our forties and (in my case slightly podgy after 3 years of hotel based consultancy work) fellows wanting to have some fun and raise money for a couple of great causes along the way.
It struck me this morning, despite aching, tired limbs and a pair of saddle sore gluteus maximi, that actually I am feeling much, much stronger and healthier than I did just a few weeks ago.
I’m always surprised, but shouldn’t be, that moderate exercise everyday can make such a difference to overall energy, positivity and even things like skin condition.  It’s wonderful to be able to have a real challenge to work towards and that motivates me like nothing else.
So I was wondering.  What is it that gets so many of us, including me, to stop exercising regularly and to slowly grow older and frankly fatter as we pass along life’s highways?
I think perhaps part of it is the very high and often unattainable standards that we place on ourselves when we think of what the word “fit” means to us.  We go off seeking “fitness” like a bull in a china shop – join that gym, buy that bike, start on that jogging and diet program.  We push ourselves to the limit, not really enjoying what we are doing.
We make it hard work, something of a chore, we give up on things and we see the pursuit of fitness as a sacrifice to the other cravings we might be missing as a result of the “giving up” of other things.  The problem might be that our idea of fit might be a step too far…a panic.
I’ve decided to conduct an experiment.  I’m working with the mindset of getting “fitter” and not “fit”.  This is a new paradigm for me that I am playfully pursuing to see where it takes me.  In many of the leadership workshops that I run my clients and I develop an understanding of the comfort, stretch, panic model.  When we stretch and make small changes out of our comfort zone then the result of a thousand stretches can be a significant change in our lives.
7 marathons in 7 days is a really tall order.  When I first thought about it, it really bothered me.  In fact it was a panic.  My little inner critic told me “no way are you going to be able to do that Chris – you are not fit enough and you are certainly too fat and too old now”
But over the course of this year I have been working on “fitter”: small steps that are making a difference, raising my activity levels and becoming habits:
1.  Drinking alcohol just a bit less every week and only drinking with meals.
2.  Using the Apple Health App to ensure I do at least 10,000 steps a day.
3.  Walking to the local shop instead of driving.
4.  Not taking that oh so lovely looking desert a couple of times a week.
I’ve noticed this simple stretching has definitely reduced my calorie intake and helped me feel more lively and alert.  Waistline started to reverse from its inexorable trend towards a bulge.
Other habits then have begun to form as I play with stretching a little more:
1.  Taking a glass of water before bed every night and a glass of water first thing in the morning – this really seems to aid digestion of breakfast as it gets the kidneys flushed and ready!
2.  Walking up stairs instead of taking the lift or elevator.
3.  Taking a walk every weekend with my daughters instead of couch surfing with them – lots of great chats and lots of lovely moments.  We understand each other much better!
4.  Work standing up instead of slouched at a desk.  It’s great for posture and I find myself much more alert.
In May I thought I’d test out how far my fitness odyssey has taken me.  I enrolled for the 130 mile Coast to Coast cycle ride with some great friends, followed the following weekend by a swift 39 mile walk on the Llangollen round.
What I started to notice – stamina was returning and often euphoria as the endorphins were starting to flow around my body.  Such a lovely feeling to get that runners high.  I really did feel as if I’d come a long way and felt a sense of celebration.  I actually found myself singing like Julie Andrews ( alone) on a Welsh Mountainside.
Since May the stretching has continued in earnest.  Rich and I planned the 7 marathons in 7 days initial as just a walk along Offas Dyke.  We realised though that in order to do it in our free time we could only afford a week off work and that meant 26 miles a day.
So the stretching had to begin in earnest.  I work in Oslo during the week.  My goodness I am blessed with a wonderful outdoor playground, very long evenings and a plethora of colleagues prepared to get fitter in the outdoors with me.
So my next stretch pledge to myself was to buy a bike and cycle to work.  It’s 15/25 km each way depending on the route and I am indebted to my colleagues Helge, Helena and Monica for showing me the way and turning out to accompany me come rain and shine ( this summer has been mostly rain!).
Suddenly I realised that over the course of the last 6 months I have gone from virtually no exercise to around 50km cycling and 20km running/walking on most days.

Now I feel like the 7 in 7 challenge is doable and it will not be a panic.

So what have I learned.  Most importantly I have learned that getting fit is a daunting challenge but getting fitter is a much more progressive and enjoyable experience.  I thoroughly recommend this approach to anyone who wants to be more active and wants to feel better, more energetic and to remain healthier.   A few small stretches can take you a long way to habitually BEING more healthy.
If you’d like to support us or help us spread the word about our middle aged 7 marathons in 7 days then please don’t hesitate to keep in touch through by clicking the Find out more link.

What happens at Discover Me?

People regularly ask us “what happens on a Discover Me course?’ the answer is a little difficult to quantify as each one can be so very different. We realised some time ago that creating a vanilla programme that “personality typed” or put people into boxes served very little purpose other than to re-enforce the habits and stereotypes they inhabit.