Why Menopause Matters In The Workplace

Issue 81

Many good things are born from adversity, from charities being founded to people being inspired to completely change direction in life. Well this unexpectedly happened to established North East business woman, Catherine Harland.

After 30 years working in the corporate world, including 13 years running her own PR agency, Catherine Harland decided to change careers, training as a menopause coach and workplace training provider. She goes onto explain her 14 year journey and why she’s passionate about helping workplaces and individuals navigate the challenges of menopause. ”I woke one day in June 2008, I was 38 and felt emotionally paralysed, scared and unable to drive my son to school, a trip I had done daily for 15 years. I did it regardless but to this day, I’ve no idea how. Suffering with anxiety, palpitations and gynae issues, I turned to the GP for help where I was diagnosed with burnout. Of course this made complete sense at the time as I’d experienced an incredibly challenging few months with work and personal issues. I was referred to various cardio and gynae consultants yet no one mentioned perimenopause or menopause. I now know that’s what it was, albeit I was younger than the average UK perimenopause age.

Several years passed but I still wasn’t firing on all cylinders. During yet another GP appointment I mentioned menopause but I was informed I was too young at 43. Cue another five years feeling meh. Not one GP (male or female) ever any mentioned perimenopause or menopause during my numerous appointments. After visiting Dr Google yet again, I returned to the GP to request HRT. I walked out with the prescription thinking ‘how do I know this one is right for me?’

I never picked up that prescription and began to do my own research. In the meantime I was prescribed another HRT but again, confusion reigned.

Dr Google can be your friend as well as your enemy.

In 2018, I conducted mammoth research, I joined menopause support groups, I contacted various ‘specialists’ and in 2019 I saw yet another GP where I requested body-identical HRT. The GP had zero knowledge of this HRT, even though it was quite widely used at this stage, hence me having to spell it. He prescribed the wrong amount but due to my extensive research I identified this, informing the practice immediately. I could write a book on these all too common experiences which so many women have encountered, and continue to encounter, from being prescribed antidepressants to being completely misinformed.

Astonishingly, GPs do not receive mandatory menopause training hence their lack of HRT/menopause knowledge. Fortunately the tide is slowly turning with some GPs are now undertaking independent menopause training. I became more knowledgable than any GP I had ever seen and because of regular menopause chats with clients and at networking events, women in the business world were turning to me for advice as they were scared of losing their career. I researched further and began my training to become a menopause coach as well as signing up for a functional health course. With a new focus and drive, I said farewell to the PR world I had known for 13 years.”

Menopause Mentor was founded, providing evidencebased, factual training to workplaces as well as supporting individuals. Menopause Table Talks are workplace menopause awareness training workshops to enable businesses to support their employees, to prevent tribunals and a host of other benefits. Other workshops include Employee Wellness and Menopause Champion training. Catherine also provides 1-1 menopause coaching for individuals requiring personal support on nutrition, stress reduction, supplements and overall menopause understanding to enable individuals to take back control. Women over 50 are the fastest growing section of the UK workforce. Ambitious and highly experienced, their contributions to the workforce can be significant.

However, the average age for menopause in the UK is 51, with nine out of ten women stating their menopausal symptoms impact their work, including fatigue, brain fog, anxiety and loss of confidence. One in four say they don’t feel supported in the workplace while a third hide their symptoms, fearing for their jobs. Nearly one million women have had to give up work due to menopause, workplaces are losing experienced employees and individuals can feel helpless. There’s so much misinformation out there leaving many women feeling quite lost at this stage of their lives whilst workplaces are losing experienced employees.

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