Minds@Work March 2018 Highlights

What an amazing turn out last Wednesday - nearly a full house in a great long room rather like a gigantic train carriage (well-described, Janet). Thank you everyone for coming and thank you those that cancelled on eventbrite because we had a huge waiting list.

Before plunging in, there were many newcomers at the event and we thought we’d just reiterate Minds@Work’s overarching purpose: we exist to inspire and empower individuals to destigmatise mental health in the workplace. We do this through sharing stories, knowledge and insight around best practice.

A quick reminder of the evening’s theme - we all know the scale of the mental health crisis both in the UK and globally. We know the workplace has a huge role to play in addressing it so now is the time to double down and really understand how to create impact. Sharing best practice with our membership will be the focus for Minds@Work over the next 12 months. For us to succeed, we need your stories. Small or large. Successes and failures. Please - email us anything you feel that our broader membership might find valuable and we’ll disseminate - georgielmack@gmail.com.

A recap of the evening: The room was buzzing, the speakers were electrifying, the networking gathered momentum and magic was everywhere you turned. Literally.

It was a great privilege to introduce RWC Partner’s CEO - Dan Mannix. RWC Partners is a founding sponsor of Minds@Work and funded the evening as well as making a generous contribution to our future so we can employ a full-time Community Manager to accelerate sharing and learning.

Dan talked about his reasons for sponsoring Minds@Work: “Essentially we believe that Minds@Work has an opportunity to have a significant impact that will benefit people, organisations and society at large.  We don't underestimate how significant this impact can be and it all starts with awareness and acceptability of the issue.

We all suffer from volatility in our mental state just as we do our physical health.  My organisation is a people business and every day I see the opportunity to improve the standard of living and the quality of our organisation through improving people's health. I am inspired by the idea that Minds@Work will enable the mind to receive the same focus as the body.  

Finally, I have the fortune to deal with people throughout the world and I see a situation where you count the members of Minds@Work in the tens of thousands from countries throughout the world”.

Following Dan’s inspirational opening, we heard from Tomo’s founding partner Fahad Al Saud. Fahad’s story began with how burn out and depression forced him to abandon his dream job as a neurobiologist. However, his sister helped him find a way to create new habits and rituals that enabled him to overcome this and inspired the creation of the Tomo app that uses peer support and behavioural activation. The team (Fahad, Gus and Duncan) are about to launch a pilot with PwC and will share learning with us once it’s embedded. They are looking for as many users as possible to help them learn quickly so do go to their website www.hellotomo.co.uk where you can find a link to download the app (iOS only for now) and sign up for their clinical trial, which starts on 19th March. Tomo is actively looking for corporates who are interested in running pilots. They are free of charge and include workshops/training days and a full report so any interested parties should email Gus (co-founder) at gus@hellotomo.co.uk.

Next up was Vanessa Sallows from Legal and General. Their CEO, Nigel Wilson, is passionate about mental health in the workplace and it goes to show how much an organisation can achieve when the leadership is so engaged. Vanessa took us through the L&G journey which was impressive in scope and depth. As someone commented in the break - it’s incredible just how much has been accomplished. L&G has 60 Mental Health First Aiders and has been catalysing conversation both within and beyond their own frontiers with the ‘Not a Red Card Offence’ Campaign being their latest awareness driving work using sportswomen and men to help break the stigma.

After the break, Rob Stephenson shared his personal story and battle with bipolar. We value personal stories enormously at our events as they help normalise mental illness, inspire other business leaders to share their experiences and are proof that you can recover and lead an arguably even richer and more purposeful life. Rob’s story was all of these things - we cannot hope to do justice to it in a couple of sentences so instead, we’ll share details here of the great social initiative started by Rob to smash stigma:  www.inside-out.org. Supported by Geoff and Minds@Work, InsideOut has the mission of encouraging more people to speak out about their experiences of mental ill-health, creating a ripple effect of much-needed role models being open in the workplace.  They are doing this in 2 ways:

  1. Publishing an annual list of executives who are prepared to be open.  Rob and Geoff are keen to speak to more potential role models in the executive category.
  2. Curating an online list for ANYONE in the workplace who is happy to be open about their experiences and become a role model.  Check out the powerful and emotive People’s List and sign up if you feel appropriate.

Rob can be contacted on rob@inside-out.org for more details or join the LinkedIn group.

Last but not least, we welcomed Abracademy’s Rubens Filho to the stage. Abracademy is a Learning and Development Company that harnesses the power of magic and Rubens has one of the most desirable job titles ever as its Director of Spells. Abracademy sits in Made by Many’s offices (where Georgie works) and so we’ve had the privilege of seeing these awesomely talented, humble magicians operate first hand.

Rubens shared the story of Abracademy and brought to life the extensive role of magic from restoring young people’s self-esteem, helping people rediscover their creativity and helping employees embrace large-scale organisational change instead of becoming stressed and anxious.

Just so you all know, the belief in magic was very strong in the room that night. So much so that 150 people performed a collective wellness spell. One attendee said to me in the aftermath “I have put those two pieces of card in my wallet as a reminder of the power of believing”.

Please do feel free to connect with Rubens if you need some magic in your working life… rubens@abracademy.com.

We can only finish by saying thank you to our speakers. It was such a pleasure to listen to all of you. We’ll be posting videos of each talk early next week for those that missed them.

Finally, we owe you all an update on Minds@Work. We’re close to appointing a Chairperson and are now actively hunting for our full-time Community Manager. Please have a look at the job description on www.mindsatworkmovement.com. We’re going to experiment with a few masterclasses between now and June so hopefully see some of you soon and don’t forget to send me your stories!

Andrew Lister