International Women’s Day – Reasonful

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Friday 8 March is International Women’s Day, so all this week we are featuring some of the inspirational women we have met through our SHE Means Business event. Today we feature Miriam Reason, mental health specialist and founder of Reasonful.

Miriam Reason - Reasonful

Miriam Reason – International Women’s Day

Miriam Reason works as a counsellor, wellbeing strategy consultant and mindfulness teacher. She founded her consultancy Reasonful in 2021 after a successful career in the city with a global insurer. As part of our celebrations of inspirational women for International Women’s Day, Miriam shares with us her story.

In a post-Covid world, we are more mindful of our mental health, more open to sharing the challenges we might face, and taking advice and help to improve our mental wellbeing. There is, however, more we and the businesses many of us work at can do to improve our mental wellbeing.

A study of 30,000 people aged between 18 and 74 in 2023 by AXA UK and the Centre for Business and Economic Research reported that 21% struggle with emotional distress with a further 26% reporting signs of stress and burnout. Burnout, work-related stress and mental ill health costs the economy, the study found, over £28bn a year.

“Everyone has mental health, just as everyone has physical health,” explains Miriam. “And sometimes, just as we sometimes experience poor physical health we can also experience poor mental health. It can and is being successfully treated though mental health is a complex and often subjective topic. There are many factors at play that vary hugely from person to person.”

Given the impact poor mental health can have on a business it is perhaps unsurprising that most large corporates are increasingly supporting their people by through initiatives that aim to manage and improve mental wellbeing. Coaching and mindfulness workshops are commonplace, for example.

“But that is not always the same in small and medium-sized businesses,” says Miriam. “Many do, naturally, see mental health as important, but with resources stretched thin they often only address the topic when faced with issues like high absence rates, staff turnover or low productivity.

“The challenge for SMEs is working out what will work for them, given that individuals employees will be unique, requiring different support and usually working with huge workloads.”

Miriam works with businesses by understanding and planning, creating a strategy that is based on prevention and addressing problems as they arise, whilst recognising that smaller businesses will not often have the resources as their larger competitors and peers.

“An important yet often overlooked piece of the puzzle is culture,” says Miriam. “Employees at any organisation won’t find mental health initiatives empowering without a corporate culture that backs it up.”

She says she learns as much from her clients as they do from her support, and it seems her support makes a difference.

Starting a business

The decision to leave the comfort of corporate life and start a business is never an easy one to make, and coming from a large international business where health and wellbeing was always on the agenda, Miriam is very much aware of the stresses that starting a business brings.

“I definitely try to practice what I teach,” says Miriam “Self-care is fundamentally important and all too easy to ignore. In 2021, I just jumped straight in and it can often be non-stop 24-7. I am all functions, from sales and marketing, operations and finance.

“It remains a very real journey, but I am constantly making decisions with my own well-being in mind. The more I can do for myself, the more I can show up for my clients.”

With the focus on women in International Women’s Day Miriam is quick to point out that both men and women will struggle with poor mental health and well-being at different times during their careers. The lived experience of men and women can “be very different”.

“As an example, research indicates that women are perhaps more likely to seek help and men, particularly those aged 50 and over, are more likely to bottle it up.”

“Businesses are embracing diversity, equity and inclusion and that very much ties into the topic of mental wellbeing. Things like sexuality, race, disability or adverse childhood experiences can all have a profound impact on our mental health.

Finding the right balance of support for a business can be hard to strike. It might, explains Miriam, involve specific initiatives for particular groups such as support for men, for black employees, or those experiencing the menopause.

“At the same time, it’s essential to provide opportunities for all staff to connect and engage with the broad topic of wellbeing on a collective level.”

And that is why Reasonful’s approach of understanding and planning, creating a strategy that is based on prevention and addressing problems as they arise unique to every business is winning Miriam a loyal following.

Miriam’s five top tips to SMEs for promoting mental well-being in the workplace.

  1. Foster a supportive culture
    Cultivate an environment where open communication, empathy, and employee wellbeing is truly valued and promoted. Encourage teams to have regular check-ins and provide resources for mental health support, such as access to counselling or employee assistance programmes. As importantly, keep careful watch for issues in the business that are degrading employee wellbeing and work to resolve these as efficiently as possible.
  2. Empower people to find their work-life balance
    Encourage employees to set boundaries between their work and personal life. For example, implementing policies that promote reasonable working hours, flexible schedules, and time off to recharge.
  3. Promote activities that support wellbeing
    Encourage regular breaks and activities that support employee wellbeing throughout the workday. For example, on-site yoga classes, gym membership, mental health workshops or mindfulness classes.
  4. Lead by example
    Whatever you expect from your team(s), lead the way by role modelling well-being promoting behaviour at your organisation.
  5. Reduce stigma
    Promote awareness and understanding of mental health throughout the organisation by fostering a culture of openness and support. Encourage open discussions to break down barriers and encourage seeking help when needed. This could look like mental health awareness workshops, panel discussions or colleague blogs.


About She Means Business

Launched in 2017, SHE Means Business is our free bi-monthly lunch & learn event supporting entrepreneurs in Hertfordshire. A relaxed and friendly space to connect with like minded people, be inspired and learn from each other. Held in our Watford office, it includes a delicious lunch and is FREE! Find out more.

Our next event is on Wednesday 13 March featuring Mental Health – book your place

To receive information on future events join our SHE Means Business mailing list here.