Everyone needs a psychologist!!

Sometimes the people that we think can cope best are actually under the greatest pressure!

John rang me a few months ago. He was gathering some staff together for a bit of a ‘booster’ session. He said that many of his colleagues were under new and very real pressures. The climate had dramatically changed. Their organisation had lost considerable influence in the marketplace. They were losing out to growing competition. Their range of products were not commanding the audience that they used to and many people felt apathetic and dejected. The mental health of some key members of the team was a very real concern and self-esteem was exceptionally low. What made matters worse for everyone was the disappointing and abject leadership of the top people within the organisation – the people who are meant to inspire and encourage the team. They seemed to have buried their heads in the sand and had become very defensive. Many good people had left altogether and it was proving very difficult to attract new and fresh blood. If things were not bad enough, it brought even more pain to the loyal, dedicated and hardworking members of team when well respected managers were discovered to be corrupt and grossly unprofessional. A minority of well respected team members were found to have spent many years involved in undetected in-house criminal activity. The general public had turned very negative and people were genuinely wondering if there was a future at all.

I told him that major companies like Intel or Microsoft would have had a team of psychologists in long ago. I could not understand the delay in providing an appropriate psychological intervention. It saddened me that this gathering of twenty or so members was practically an initiative driven by themselves. But I commended John. John was a leader in his own right and had grasped the nettle. I was really looking forward to meeting him and his colleagues. I would do my best to put together a morning session aimed at educating them about how they could manage the stresses and sustain hope during these challenging times. The venue was a hotel in Wexford. A long journey for me but I really felt that I could not turn the opportunity down.

We are all vulnerable people. Even the hardest shell can crack!

I met them for a drink the night before. I was due to start the session at 10 o’clock the following morning. However, they invited me to join them for a concelebrated Mass at 9.15pm. I was the only layperson among the twenty priests there but it was lovely to have myself and my family prayed for at this intimate gathering. Sometimes we are not aware of the stresses and strains experienced by good people in our communities. We are all under pressure. We are all vulnerable people. I hope my session helped these kind, genuine and very spiritual people.

(c) Shane Martin

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