Mental Health Awareness Week 2023: 5 stories in 5 days, Lauren Bass

With the theme being anxiety for this year's Mental Health Awareness Week, Lauren Bass, Talent Director, shares her experience


Written by Lauren Bass, Talent Director

The silent career killer!

As a woman approaching 40, I have seen changes in myself that have influenced my mental wellness, including nervousness/anxiety and lack of sleep. Research shows that perimenopause/menopause does not necessarily affect job performance. But there was a strong link between the severity of symptoms and reduced engagement with work with a higher intention to quit work, therefore having a negative impact on career aspirations and achievements.

This isn't a subject that is transparently discussed in the work environment; however, I think it is important that we do.

Perimenopause and Menopause is a natural biological process that marks the end of a woman's reproductive years. It is a significant milestone that affects women physically, emotionally, and mentally. Menopause can impact a woman's career in various ways with hot flashes, mood swings, fatigue, and cognitive changes being a few named symptoms. Teamed with juggling multiple responsibilities including work, family, and caregiving, it can lead to stress, anxiety, and depression.

Adjusting to work and perimenopause/menopause can be testing, however, there are ways of dealing with the side effects and keeping up with your profession. The following are a couple of tips:

  • Focus on taking care of yourself: This can be regular physical activity, eating a balanced healthy diet, getting sufficient rest, and practising relaxation methods such as meditation and yoga. I found down time the best form of unwinding, this is just simply watching some easy TV with my husband in the evening and allowing myself time to switch off (it often includes a little sofa snooze!)
  • Speak with your employer: On the off chance that menopausal side effects are influencing your work, think about speaking to your manager. This discussion can assist with recognizing adjustments that can support performance whilst experiencing menopausal side effects, for example, flexible work hours for time to rest, and working from home to be more comfortable. I find it helpful to talk through scenarios and practicing presentations with people to calm my nerves and share the responsibility of getting things right. This is something I have shared with the Leadership team, and they all jump at the chance to support me with this.
  • Look for help: help from partners, companions, or a specialist. Discussing menopause with others can assist with reducing stigma and give practical tips to manage side effects.
  • Educate yourself: Get familiar with menopause and its effect on your wellbeing, and profession. Understanding the side effects and potential difficulties can help you plan and oversee them proactively.
  • Be proactive: Being proactive about dealing with your side effects and looking for help can assist you with adjusting and keeping up with your wellbeing during this period.

What can your employer do?

  • Education: Train managers and leaders on what to expect and how to support employees.
  • Review policies: Just like your maternity policy you need a policy in place to consider the support and flexibility you are willing to give to support your employees.
  • Review benefits: Consider what benefits are in place that can offer support to those experiencing symptoms, this can be care packages to offer professional support, medical support and flexible working options.

Most importantly create a culture and environment where employees feel comfortable discussing these important topics.

Perimenopause and menopause are not going anywhere and as our lives become busier and we continue to juggle the complexities of life, we need to adapt and take care of ourselves and those around us. Given we spend a large portion of our day at work, we should be open to these important conversations and support those experiencing symptoms in bringing the best version of themselves and being open minded to the adjustments that might encourage this.