A conversation with Gamiel Yafai about mental health fatigue

22nd February 2021

To mark the recent launch of our Mental Health Fatigue course we spoke to its author, Diversity and Inclusion Strategist Gamiel Yafai who runs Diversity Marketplace about the origins, development and purpose of the course.

“The ideas behind the course go back for several years. I had conversations with people around different aspects of diversity training and why the content didn’t lead to transformational change. We hoped there would be more progress.

“We realised that for the course to ‘land’ there needs to be empathy, a connection with the individual that enables the learner to step into the shoes of somebody with mental health or other issues.

“The original content of the Mental Health Fatigue course comes from a VR game that I created for an organisation in Australia, that allows the learner to step into the body of someone different. Due to COVID-19, it would have been difficult to promote a VR course and after discussing the concept with David (CEO Marshall E-Learning) after he had seen the demo which he really liked, he said: ‘Have you thought about this as an e-learning course?’

“We thought about how we could develop a similar experience to using a VR headset that would enable the learner to ‘walk towards’ their manager and be present. We gave Ramesh, the main character in the Mental Health Fatigue course, an inner voice, to create empathy between him and the learner. Throughout the course, you never hear Ramesh speak out loud.

“This approach allows you to feel the pain he is going through, which is totally different from hearing a conversation between Ramesh and his boss. Throughout the video story you don’t hear what he is saying, you feel what he is going through, and that allows you to empathise with his situation at work.

The Mental Health Fatigue e-learning course developed by Marshall E-Learning falls somewhere between VR and classroom training and helps to takes the learning to the next level, VR takes it even further. I found that people who have experienced mental health fatigue who put the VR headset on were surprised how much the course replicated how they felt.

“I had a lot of conversations with my work colleague David Beeney, who got me involved in diversity training for about 20 years. He’s a really good friend and I didn’t have a clue about his mental health until about 4-5 years ago when he started talking about it and he created his own company called Breaking The Silence.

David is a charming individual that everyone loves. You would never believe he had mental health fatigue, which is really just a different aspect of our health. It’s how that reading of information impacts our thinking and how our thinking impacts our feelings until something major happens. Sometimes it really doesn’t matter what people say, it is not going to change how we feel.

By mental health fatigue, I mean that our mental health is tired and worn out. It’s not an illness or a deterioration, it’s a sense of tiredness or an overworking of our brain, which means our brain needs revitalising. David was experiencing huge anxiety and I had no clue about this when I was working with him.

Mental Health Fatigue e-learning course

Gamiel went on to explain how the 20-minute course is about awareness-raising and how the e-learning course connects learners with the voice in the back of Ramesh’s head allowing them to hear his anguish, an experience which is enhanced by the excellent voiceover acting.

The Mental Health Fatigue course is a springboard for helping to create conversations and enabling a conversation about mental health fatigue to be expanded. It is suitable for individuals, managers and senior leaders to give them some ideas about what they could do and although it helps to start the conversation but does not provide all the solutions.

Throughout the course is the animated video that centres on Ramesh is in 3 parts. In Part 1 Graham, his manager, gets it wrong, in Part 2 he does a bit of research but doesn’t speak to the right people and comes up with all the wrong answers. In part 3 he speaks to HR, gets the right advice and impresses Ramesh with his solution.

David Marshall, Marshall E-Learning CEO explains: “Often we use animation as an enhancement of the core learning and in this module, we made the animation the core of the story. When I saw Gamiels VR project I really respected how he had tried to do something new and I wanted to back it and bring it to life. Partly this is because the issues it raises are so topical for everyone right now and I hope this course reaches a lot of people.”

It is important for organisations to get things right because when they get things wrong staff can leave either because they get ill or they seek an organisation or role that is more supportive or understanding of their condition.

The course is not purely awareness raising it’s also about moving into actions, making sure those actions are appropriate for the individual, developing the right action and then following through with those actions.

Marshalls offers a range of diversity training modules and institutions are increasingly moving to our subscription service where they can obtain all modules for a fixed price. For more information on this and how Marshalls can help support your company through its diversity training and consultancy services, please email Ann at aallcock@marshallacm.co.uk or call +447479 460782. 

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