Mentoring is considered to be very beneficial for those who are being mentored. In actuality, the two-sided nature of a mentorship program and the benefits the mentor can gain is often overlooked.
Mental health is now more topical than it ever has been. Often the focus being on the mental health of young people however this cannot be discussed in isolation, with parental mental health coming hand in hand. This connection between parent and child, or teacher and student, can be transferred directly to a workplace environment.
The stigma surrounding mental health pervades many workplaces and mentoring provides a bridge across this. A mentoring program generates trust between mentors and mentees and promotes the disclosure of sensitive or personal information which has many lasting positive effects.
A study conducted by the Harvard Business Review in 2013 (1), among Police Officers in England and Wales showed the value of employing a mentorship program.
The study consisted of 17 mentor-mentee pairs who went through a mentoring program compared to a group of 18 pairs of senior and junior officers who did not participate in the program.
The pairs were interviewed multiple times and were asked about their stress levels, what they liked about their job, how they coped with stress and whether their mentoring relationship had helped them.
The findings, for mentors compared with those who did not mentor:
- Lower levels of anxiety
- Described their jobs as more meaningful
- Found their interactions therapeutic
- Offered a way to build trust with colleagues
- Foundation for open and honest communication
The mentoring provided the senior and junior officers with a venue for discussing concerns.
Mentors listened to their mentees’ accounts of anxiety and realised these feelings were often shared.
This commonplace was reassuring and was a form of a coping mechanism.
This study highlights the benefits for mentors in Police Officing, however this practice and the lessons learned have the potential of supporting the mental health of mentors in various settings. Formal mentoring programs provide an opportunity to encourage the discussion of difficult topics, which often remain undisclosed, thereby normalising challenging experiences of stress and anxiety.
United Way WA currently has several mentoring opportunities which are designed to create amazing, life-changing opportunities for both the mentors and mentees involved.
Find out more about our volunteer mentoring opportunities and how you can make a real difference here.
ARTICLE PUBLISHED 8/08/2019 BY SAMUEL MONKHOUSE
Samuel is an up and coming marketing creative, content creator and current member of the United Way WA team as a Marketing and Communications Intern.