Founder of Strive - Linda Neville in Interview
In a recent interview, Nazareth, a LinkedIn community leader, invited Linda, founder of SanaMente and a mental health practitioner with over 30 years of experience, to share her story and views on mental health. Nazareth, who has over 32,500 followers on LinkedIn, often interviews professionals who have interesting backgrounds, and Linda is one of them. Nazareth’s community values sharing real-life stories from professionals and practitioners, and Linda’s experience in the mental health arena since 1985 made her a perfect fit for the interview.  
 
You can watch the video here:  
Linda’s experience spans working in the NHS, specialising in Acute Psychiatry, and moving on to the protection of vulnerable adults, child protection, adult protection, and domestic violence. She also worked in leadership and operational directorship before leaving the NHS to set up her own private therapy practice, SanaMente. Linda's passion is to help people make changes to overcome the barriers that hold them back, to help them live a different life, and to empower them to manage their distress and build resilience. 
Linda's passion lies in helping people make changes to overcome the barriers holding them back and live the life they want. She found that as a senior manager in the NHS, she was moving away from working with individuals, which is where her passion lies. When an opportunity arose for Linda to take her volunteer redundancy and set up her own practice, she chose to do so. At SanaMente, Linda's practice, she offers a blend of talking therapy and hypnosis. Talking therapy helps individuals understand where they are at, the changes they want to make, and how they want to make them. Hypnosis is the vehicle to help make that change. 
Nazareth invited Linda to his LinkedIn community to discuss her views, people, and processes in mental health. Linda provides private therapy on an individual basis, either at her clinic or online, and recently launched an online platform called Strive. The platform helps people in distress manage their distress, build their resilience and learn coping strategies. It also aims to build a community of people who understand themselves, how to look after themselves, and are keen to help and support others. 
 
As someone who has been working in the mental health field since 1985, Linda explained, that she has witnessed numerous changes over the years and that is has been amazing to see the progress we've made in combating stigma and implementing community care initiatives. 
However, one of the main concerns Linda raised in the interview is the blurring of boundaries between clinical diagnosis and life experiences in mental health. Whilst we've made great strides in talking more openly about mental health, she is concerned about the language we use. Terms like anxiety and depression, which are diagnosable mental health conditions, are now used to describe life experiences like sadness or a dip in mood due to real-life situations.  
Linda explained that the danger of over-medicalising mental health is that it disempowers people to take responsibility for their mental wellbeing and puts more pressure on the NHS. This leads to people having less ability and confidence to take charge of their own lives. While it is crucial to recognise and address mental health conditions, it is equally important to acknowledge that everyone goes through periods of stress, sadness, or anxiety at some point in their lives. By blurring the boundaries between these two, we run the risk of disempowering individuals and putting more pressure on healthcare systems. 
 
This is where Strive comes in. By offering tools and resources to help individuals manage their distress and build resilience, Strive aims to empower people to take charge of their mental health and wellbeing. Moreover, by building a community of like-minded individuals, Strive creates a supportive environment where people can connect and help each other. 
"We're different to other apps and online platforms because we offer a Wellness Assessment, we give personalised advice and we guide people through our platform which has over 100 resources on it, designed around the 10 Keys of Happiness. We are specific to each person because we know that people's journeys are individual to them. We support individuals through online material and real-life intervention with real-life human beings as well as group support through webinars and information sessions.” 
As well as helping people on an individual basis, Strive provides a Corporate Solution. Linda explained how we do this in two ways: One way is that the company owner will recognise and determine the people who are struggling within the organisation. They might look for a number of reasons - sickness absence, presenteeism or it might be performance. Once referred to us, we assess the individual and take them through our process - helping them manage themselves in moments of stress and distress and build resilience for the future. 
 
The second way is that we can assess the whole company through a Company Wellness Check and provide real-time information based on what those individuals have answered. We don't share employees specifc answers but this assessment means we make evidence-based recommendations. 
“Say out of your company you referred your company employees to us, I would then be able to tell you that perhaps 30 people in your company are absolutely fine, they're cracking on, they're doing great and they are enjoying their job. But maybe 30 of your staff are struggling a bit - they maybe need a bit of assistance around specific areas. Then say 30 of your staff are either suffering from stress or on the verge of beginning to feel the impact of strains and anxiety.” 
The diagnostic tool helps us to make recommendations including the level of support needed for numbers of employees based on their responses. We advise on the human impact of what is happening and are saving companies thousands of pounds through reduced sickness absence, improved productivity, communication, resilience, stress management and decision-making. 
 
When Nazareth asked about results, and whether we see changes from our interventions with companies Linda explained that what we are seeing at the moment is that the return on investment for every £1 invested, is £5-6. Linda highlighted that the Strive Corporate Solution has helped employees feel better, reducing their sickness absence to the point that we are saving them thousands of pounds. To give an idea, for one company we saved them £6,000, for another, we have saved them £17,000 and for another £45,000! And that's based on sickness absence alone. 
 
Linda was asked by Nazareth if individuals and companies are aware of their need for assistance. Do they know they need help? According to Linda's experience, people have recognised the difficulties associated with mental health and have a desire to take action; however, they frequently lack clarity on how to proceed. Many benefits packages, wellbeing gurus and apps have popped up, but Linda encourages people to do something that is personal to the individual, is measurable and makes employees feel better in the long-term (not just in the moment) and therefore gives businesses a significant return on investment. 
 
In conclusion, Linda's interview highlights the need for a more nuanced and holistic approach to mental health. As we continue to raise awareness about mental health and reduce stigma, we must also recognise the importance of individual agency and self-development. By providing people with the tools and support they need to manage their mental health with Strive, we can create a society that is more resilient, empathetic, and compassionate. 
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