ONLINE EVENT for 2020 – 23-25 NOVEMBER. FIND OUT MORE HERE
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What does purpose mean to a company leader?

This year marks the 50th anniversary of economist Milton Friedman’s (in)famous declaration that “the social responsibility of business is to increase its profits”. It’s a far cry from where we are now, mid pandemic, with economic decline, social justice protests, climate change and growing public expectation around businesses stepping up and taking responsibility for their people and pressing societal issues. Whilst profit still has to be a core aim of any business – they struggle to exist without it - there are increasing calls for companies to develop and demonstrate an authentic purpose beyond making money, addressing and articulating why they exist and the broader value they offer to employees, customers, communities and the environment.

While the crisis has thrown up huge challenges for businesses globally, it has also provided leaders with an opportunity to step back and rethink what purpose means to them. Over the past few months, we’ve seen some shining examples of brands being guided by higher values and making a real difference – not just to communities and society in general, but specifically to their staff. As an example, as the pandemic crisis took hold, Microsoft pivoted its retail operations to keep store employees in jobs and able to work virtually. It also provided twelve weeks parental leave, supporting education and childcare at home.

According to PwC UK’s recent CEO Panel Survey 2020, CEO’s globally have been prioritising employee wellbeing as part of their purpose. 92% are protecting employee health and safety. 61% are conducting wellbeing initiatives and 24% are providing additional financial support to employees.  All very positive to hear.

Given that purposeful companies grow three times faster than their competitors and are more likely to be profitable (Deloitte Insights), now is the time for business to leverage purpose, for the benefit of people, planet and profit. This includes not only delivering value to customers and stakeholders, but also investing in and looking after employees, dealing fairly and ethically with suppliers, supporting communities, protecting the environment and building long term business value and sustainable growth.

Now is certainly the time to “build back better” to quote the title of a current campaign in the UK, and to use the power of purpose to drive positive societal and business change for the long-term benefit of us all.

Debra Sobel
Managing Partner, Strategy
Verity London
www.veritylondon.co.uk

https://www.linkedin.com/in/debra-sobel-verity-london

https://www.linkedin.com/company/veritylondon

@Verity_Lon

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Suppliers Directory

This Can Happen brings you a list of suppliers that all have a product or service that supports positive mental health in the workplace. This is not a full list but just some of the suppliers that have exhibited with us in the past. If you would like to be listed as a Supplier please contact Emma@tchevents.com

 

Beyond

Beyond are a grant-giving organisation committed to making a difference to the mental health of young people up and down the UK.

www.wearebeyond.org.uk

Business Mental Wellbeing

www.businessmentalwellbeing.com

Champs

At Champs we help forward-thinking teams and leaders turn mental wellbeing into their biggest asset at work – one conversation at a time.

www.champsconsult.com

Grief Encounter

Grief Encounter is currently one of the UK’s largest and most holistic bereavement services, offering free support to families in the UK following the death of a loved one. 

www.griefencounter.org.uk

Mental Health at Work

Mental Health at Work improve working lives through changing attitudes and behaviour around workplace mental health. 

www.mhaw.uk.com

Mental Health UK

Mental Health UK is a leading charity providing tools and support to improve mental health in the workplace.

www.mentalhealth-uk.org

Mindberry

MindBerry's digital platform lets your employees connect and work with mental health and coaching professionals online.

www.mind-berry.com

Shine Offline

We support workplaces and their people to have healthy and sustainable relationships with their smartphones and other digital devices in today’s 24/7 connected world.

www.shineoffline.com

Schroders

Schroders Personal Wealth take a fresh, transparent and personal approach to supporting the financial wellbeing of the UK both individually and within the workplace.

www.schroderspw.co.uk

Togetherall

Togetherall addresses the rising need for a scalable and clinically managed solution to population mental health support. 

www.togetherall.com

 

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Agenda 2020

To download the This Can Happen 2020 agenda, simply complete the form below.

UK and European content will run across all three days, whilst US content will run on Monday and Asian content will run across Tuesday and Wednesday.

Please note the Agenda is subject to change.

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Our Friends

Companies that become Friends of This Can Happen benefit from exclusive content throughout the year to support their mental health strategy. If you are keen to become a Friend of This Can Happen contact henriette@tchevents.com
 

Diary of Events include:
 

ROUNDTABLE - 24 June
Is your mental health strategy fit for purpose?
   
WEBINAR - 7 July
How to manage the menopause at work 
Please contact caroline@tchevents.com for the recording of this webinar
   
WEBINAR - 16 September at 12.30pm
Good Mood Food – Learn about mood boosting foods
Jacqui Mayes
   
ROUND TABLE - 6 October 
Young people's mental health
   
ROUND TABLE - 1 December
Review of 2020  - the good, the bad, the ugly…and includes a review of the online conference
   
WEBINAR - December
Topic TBC

 

 

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My biggest fear in lockdown is not Coronavirus…it’s me.

Written by Fabian Devlin, communications consultant and co-author of Big Boys Don’t Cry? e-book.

COVID-19 is one of the biggest threats to humans the world has seen for many years. Add to this the recent horrific terrorist incident in Reading, daily reports of the economy sliding into recession and the global issue of climate change, it’s no wonder the nation’s anxiety levels are rocketing. A survey this week by the Harvey Nash Group found that the mental health of one in three professionals has deteriorated during the pandemic. 

And yet, the biggest threat to my own safety is me. Twelve years ago, I suffered from work-related stress and anxiety which led to depression and serious thoughts of taking my own life. Work has always been a real trigger for me and I struggle with what I’ve now learned is called ‘imposter syndrome’ where I feel like a fraud who’s going to be found out at any moment. Despite 19 years’ experience in my career, I live in fear that someone will call me out and say: “This guy is absolutely hopeless at his job. You are so busted!”.  

Like many people, I find that my identity and self-esteem are inextricably linked to my work. So, when things are going well with my job I feel like a success; but when they’re not I’m a failure - not just as a worker, but as a person too. This is not only unhelpful, it’s dangerous. The key is to try and extricate yourself from this precarious position and to understand that you are not your job. During lockdown, I’ve learned to place less emphasis on my work and to focus more on other areas of my life, such as my family and friends. I am poorer financially than ever, yet much richer in time and in my personal relationships. In fact, I’m feeling physically and mentally healthier than I have in a very long time.

I think men are particularly vulnerable to mental health issues caused by work in these uncertain times for two main reasons: first, we still consider ourselves to be the main breadwinner, whether this is actually the case or not, and if we fail to provide for our family then we have failed in our fundamental role as a man. This is, of course, an outdated concept but I believe it still sits deep within our male psyche. The second reason is that, generally, men just don’t open up and talk about their problems. We keep our negative, self-destructive thoughts locked inside our heads, festering and corroding our self-confidence until it reaches crisis point.

Suicide remains the single biggest killer of men under 45 in the UK and as the CEO of men’s mental health charity CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) Simon Gunning said recently: “If you’re a young man in Britain, the most likely thing to kill you, is you.” 

This is why I decided to co-write a men’s mental health book Big Boys Don’t Cry?, with an old school friend Patrick Addis, encouraging men to open up, not ‘man up’. We spoke to 60 men from a wide range of backgrounds – lawyers, businessmen, postmen, professional sportsmen, construction workers, ex-armed servicemen, homeless men – who shared their stories and battles with mental illness. The main lesson we drew from them is that no one – absolutely no one – is immune from mental health challenges. It doesn’t matter what background you come from, how wealthy you are, what job you do, what age you are - mental illness simply does not discriminate; it welcomes us all.

The good news is that you can learn many tools and techniques to help manage your mental health and not only survive, but thrive in this uncertain world. Here are three things that are currently helping me during and post-lockdown: 

Give yourself a structure – a good way to feel more in control is to create yourself a daily timetable: I take an A4 piece of paper, divide it into three columns -  ‘Morning’, ‘Afternoon’ and ‘Evening’ – add in rows of times in each column and blu-tack on work, leisure and household activities. This works for me as it’s flexible and I can move around items as and when I need to. It also helps me schedule in activities like reading or going for a walk to avoid being stuck in front of my laptop all day. I also find it’s very useful to prioritise just three key things – no more – that you want to do in a day. You feel a real sense of satisfaction when you tick all three of them off before you go to sleep that night.

Keep a mood diary – a really simple way to track how you’re feeling from day to day and also to help identify key activities that help lift your mood and others that lower it. Buy a pocket-size, week to view diary and check in with how you’re feeling several times throughout the day. Score your mood out of 10 and write a brief note on the reason for your number; for example, ‘3/10 - too many Zoom calls’ or ‘8/10 - run in the park’. Write down your average score each day and then do the same at the end of the week. You’ll very soon get a real sense of what impacts your mood positively and negatively. It also really helps when you need to communicate how you’re feeling to partners, other family members and your doctor. 

This week I received a brilliant fitbit-style, wearable device called Moodbeam which helps you track your mood by clicking on either a positive or negative button on your wrist, which then links directly to an app on your phone; keeping track of your mood digitally. 

Try meditation – by far the most useful tool I’ve learned to help look after my mental health over the past few years. I set aside 20 minutes each morning to practice sitting alone with my thoughts and bringing my attention back to my breath whenever it pulls me into ruminating about the past or worrying about the future. You don’t need any fancy equipment or to sit for hours in a complicated lotus position – just five minutes sitting on a chair or lying on a bed paying attention to your thoughts will help you feel much more balanced and at ease. I recommend Mark Williams’ guided meditations, available on Spotify. 

These are just a few weapons you can add to your wellbeing armoury along with the basics of getting enough sleep, eating healthily and doing exercise. But the key thing is to find out what works for you, to keep all your options open and to open up, not man up.

Fabian Devlin is a communications consultant and co-author of Big Boys Don’t Cry? e-book, available to buy at www.bigboysdontcry.co.uk and from Amazon (£10). Ten per cent of proceeds from the book will be donated to mental health charities CALM and Sport in Mind.

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Speakers

The online event will deliver a new standard of solutions-led talks and discussions driven by original, fresh and influential speakers. Our speakers are genuine experts with experience of providing solutions to mental health in the workplace across the world. If you are interested in submitting a speaker email info@tchevents.com

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Agenda

The 3 day online conference will cover a host of topics including the following:
 

  • Workplace reaction to mental health in a recession
  • The impact of obesity stigma at work
  • Infertility, IVF and miscarriage
  • Coping with caring
  • Transgender in the workplace
  • Tackling trauma
  • The challenges of launching a mental health initiative with impact
  • Mental health and technology: the good, the bad and the groundbreaking 
  • Global rollout of mental health strategies

 

BOOK NOW

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Mental health in UK Tech deteriorates in lockdown

  • Easing of lockdown restrictions and return to offices raises stress levels further
  • Jump in those concerned about their mental health compared to before the pandemic
  • Many are concerned about their mental health for the first ever time
  • Job security and not being able to switch off – top causes

The easing of lockdown restrictions and a return to offices is raising the stress levels of over a quarter of UK tech professionals (26%) at a time when over 1 in 3 (36%) report that their mental health has deteriorated during Covid-19, finds a new Harvey Nash Study. 

The easing of lockdown restrictions has left tech professionals worrying most about bringing Covid-19 back into the home, and the health risk of their daily commute.

Those tech professionals (60%) that have been/are concerned about their mental health has risen 16% from before the pandemic - this rise is equivalent to an increase of almost 200,000 of the UK’s tech workforce[1].

These findings are published in a new study by global technology recruiter, Harvey Nash, in association with This Can Happen, the world’s largest online workplace mental health conference. The survey of 1,600 UK technology professionals comprised of – a wider survey prior to the Covid-19 global crisis, and then a Pulse Survey[2] during the crisis to measure the mental wellness of UK Tech’s workforce in lockdown.

Other key findings include:

  • Concerned about mental health for the first ever time - Of those people (27%) actively concerned about their mental wellbeing now, 35% say this is the first ever time they have been concerned.
  • For 1 in 10 the stress they’re feeling is negatively impacting on their work - This is almost twice as likely to apply to permanent workers as to IT contractors. 
  • IT roles under most pressure - Those in Project/Programme Management or IT Operational roles, who were under most strain to rapidly move large workforces into remote/virtual environments, have seen their mental health affected the most. Prior to the crisis, 1 in 5 workers[3] in IT Operations were concerned about their mental health, but this has risen to around 1 in 3 as a result of Covid-19. 

Help and support…
Although 56% of companies have increased the level of personal/emotional/home working support provided during the crisis, half still don’t provide formal support for mental health issues. This is having a significant impact, with  three quarters (75%) of those working for unsupportive companies being either concerned about their mental health now or in the past. This drops by a quarter amongst very supportive companies. Staff at unsupportive companies are also more likely to have seen their mental health deteriorate during lockdown.

Chris Seel, a Director at Harvey Nash Group, said:  “Our research reveals the extent of the mental health challenge facing the tech sector – and, by extension, the whole of the UK business community. The ramifications of the Covid-19 pandemic are far-reaching and people are already feeling the strain, many of them for the first time. Whilst it’s encouraging that the majority of businesses have increased the levels of support they provide, there remains much further to go.

Employers are frequently good at introducing informal support mechanisms such as online resources or voluntary networks, but providing formal support such as counselling is harder to do and costlier as well. With staff having moved to remote working – and likely to spend more time working remotely on an ongoing basis – the task becomes more difficult still. With less face-to-face contact, it is harder for managers to pick up on the signs that someone is struggling. Individuals are less likely to reach out for support if that first, immensely difficult conversation needs to be by phone or video call. Mental health support becomes much more difficult at the time when it is needed most.”

Zoe Sinclair, Co-Founder, This Can Happen, added: “It’s encouraging to see that 56% of companies have increased the level of personal and emotional support to their employees. However, at such an uncertain time we believe that this figure should be much higher as looking after your employees’ mental health should be a top priority for all businesses.”

Switching off in an ‘Always on’ world
Prior to the crisis Harvey Nash discovered that the single highest cause of stress was the perennial issue of being short of staff, however during the crisis, the top three causes changed markedly to:

  • Not having any time to personally switch off (46%)
  • Worrying about losing their job (41%)
  • ‘Always on’ technology (33%)

Around a third of those tech professionals with children also reported that caring for/home schooling children is one of the main causes of their stress. With schools only opening up for a limited number of children in June, this issue is likely to continue for most.

In general, the Harvey Nash study found that you’re more likely to see your mental health deteriorate during Covid-19 if:

  • You’re working, rather than furloughed
  • You have a family
  • You work more than 50+ hours a week
  • You work for an unsupportive company

Coping strategies…a quarter have turned to alcohol.
To help cope with enforced isolation and rising work and personal/family pressures, almost a quarter (24%) of tech professionals have increased their consumption of alcohol. At the same time, other popular coping strategies include – increasing exercise levels (63%), dedicating more time to a hobby/past-time (53%), and a fifth have either practised mindfulness/yoga or other meditative activity, or sought counsel from friends and family.  

The Midlands is hit the hardest
Regionally, those in the Midlands (46%) and the South East (38%) are most likely to have seen a deterioration in their mental wellbeing.

Chris Seel, a Director at Harvey Nash Group, concluded: “In these challenging times for individuals and businesses, and with conditions likely to be difficult for months or even years ahead, there is a real risk that mental health could continue to deteriorate. That is why now is the time for businesses to act and do everything they can to get the right support in place. Mental health support is not a one-time fix – it needs to be continually reviewed and refreshed. It needs to be high up the executive agenda and have senior backing. Failure to respond to what is evolving in front of us now could lead to much bigger problems further down the line.”

-ENDS-

Media Contacts:
David Pippett
ProServ PR
david@proservpr.com
+44 (0) 7899 798197

About the Harvey Nash Study
Harvey Nash surveyed 1,600 UK technology professionals – a wider survey prior to the Covid-19 global crisis (over 1200), and then a Pulse Survey during the crisis (almost 400) to measure the mental wellness of UK Tech’s workforce in lockdown compared to prior to the pandemic.

About Harvey Nash
Shaping your tomorrow
We are global leaders in technology recruitment, delivering solutions that connect organisations with the very best talent – from software developers to business transformation leaders. With over 30 years’ experience and global reach, we have an unparalleled knowledge and capability in all areas of technology.​ www.harveynash.com

Harvey Nash is part of Harvey Nash Group, a global professional services organisation with three key areas of focus: Technology recruitment, IT solutions and Leadership services. We partner with clients, helping them unlock the power of individual and team talent. www.harveynashgroup.com

 

What is This Can Happen?
This Can Happen is the largest gathering of companies across the world, coming together to tackle workplace mental health. We support employers and employees across the world to create a positive environment for good mental health in the workplace.

Everything we do is solutions-led. Building on our London conference our global online event (23-25 November) provides delegates with relevant answers to a range of mental health topics, our Awards celebrate excellence in mental health strategies and our networking events enable likeminded individuals to meet and learn with their peers.

We provide free to access online resources - including videos, podcasts and research – around workplace mental health.

Our virtual conference, This Can Happen 2020, takes place 23-25 November 2020. You can find out more as well as buy tickets here

 

[1] The UK government calculates there are 1.3 million jobs in technology in the UK (Source: ONS). With 60% of the UK’s tech professionals concerned about their mental health either in the past or right now, rising 16% from before the pandemic, this is an equivalent rise of almost 200,000 (180,000) of the UK’s tech workforce concerned about their mental health.

[2] The Harvey Nash Pulse Survey was conducted between 22nd May – 3rd June 2020 – week’s 10 & 11 of the Covid-19 UK lockdown.

[3] The 1 in 5 in IT Operations concerned about their mental health reported this in the last quarter of 2019 - prior to the first case of Covid-19.

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Book now

We encourage companies to purchase tickets for the online event for staff across the globe as mental health can affect all those within a workplace. As a 3 day long virtual conference you do not have to commit to all 3 days – you can pick and choose whichever sessions you like. All sessions will be available for 1 month after the conference to download at your leisure.

This Can Happen 2020 - Online Event - Ticket Type £ + VAT $
Group of 5 tickets £1,250.00 $1,625.00
Group of 10 tickets £2,495.00 $3,250.00
TCH FRIENDS Package (inc. 15 online tickets - details below) £4,950.00 $6,350.00
TCH FRIENDS PLUS Package (inc. 30 online tickets - details below) £9,950.00 $12,950.00


BOOK NOW


If you would like to buy a single ticket or have any queries please email info@tchevents.com



This Can Happen FRIENDS - £4,950 + VAT

  • 15 tickets to This Can Happen Online Conference on 23-25 November 2020
  • 2 award entries (any category)
  • 2 tickets to the awards reception
  • Access to 2 webinars for any of their workplace to log in to throughout 2020
  • Invites to join a virtual roundtable series throughout the year
  • Opportunity to write a blog for our website resources section that will be promoted across our social channels

This Can Happen FRIENDS PLUS - £9,950 + VAT

  • 30 tickets to This Can Happen Online Conference on 23-25 November 2020
  • 2 award entries (any category)
  • 4 tickets to the awards reception
  • Access to 4 webinars for any of their workplace to log in to throughout 2020
  • Invites to join a virtual roundtable series throughout the year
  • Opportunity to draft a blog for our website resources section that will be promoted across our social channels
     
This Can Happen Future Fund
This Can Happen supports and invests in people and organisations who would benefit from attending our events so we can continue to invest in the future of workplace mental health. If you would like to apply to the Fund for a complimentary ticket to our online event, This Can Happen 2020, please email info@tchevents.com with FUND in the subject line, outlining why you and/or your organisation would benefit from a complimentary pass.


Companies that attend This Can Happen include:

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Our Partners

This Can Happen is delighted to have the involvement and endorsement of the companies below.  Each brings something unique to our event and we are immensely proud of their association.

We are pleased to be working with two new partners to bring This Can Happen to an international audience – Community Business in Asia and Inquest Consulting in the US.

 

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A Paradox of Wellbeing

There has been much helpful discussion of the importance of taking care of our mental health in these uncertain and unusual times. I suggest a parallel here with falling asleep.

You probably have some experience of trying to fall asleep, but not being able to. As you become more aware of your effort, it often becomes harder to fall asleep. A similar dynamic can arise as we consider our own mental health: thinking about it, we become more worried about it, and then we feel less well; striving for it, we perceive a gap between where we are and where we want to be, and this gap causes us pain.

This can create a paradox, in which any intentional effort at psychological wellbeing leads to its opposite. Is it possible, then, to talk, think, and work towards such wellbeing without falling into this trap? 

No and yes. A little bit on each. 

No: what is described above is the trap of reification. Reification means treating something abstract as if it were a thing, something graspable. Sleep cannot be grasped. If I know I am asleep I tend to wake up. (Lucid dreamers may be an exception to this rule, but the example is illustrative.) Wellbeing cannot be grasped – to grasp is to tighten, hold on, clench…these are opposed to the fluid, relaxed ease that enduring wellbeing depends upon.

Yes: we can talk, think, and work towards wellbeing if we resist the temptation to relate to it in this “reified” way. This means resisting the temptation to turn wellbeing into just another goal to be achieved, and then held onto tightly, fearful of its departure. 

But if I can’t grasp it, how do I know if I have it or not? How do I know it is real? This analytical and sceptical mode of mind serves us very well at work, but if we bring it to an evaluation of our feelings we will suffer. If I try to prove (to myself or to others) that I am well, that I have attained wellbeing, then I quite quickly feel otherwise. 

Bring your analytical mind to problem-solving, while working or elsewhere. Find healthy ways of stepping back from that mind, and you will find sources of wellbeing. If you haven’t found one that serves you, you are not alone, but keep looking. They are out there.

Mindfulness is one such technique, and is in essence the opposite of reification, the opposite of grasping. Letting go of the active, strained desire to mould our experience this or that way, we practise bringing a friendly and non-judgmental awareness to how it already is. Ask yourself: what would it feel like if there were no problems you had to solve right now? This may not summon wellbeing quite like a genie, but it does create the space for wellbeing to arise, in its own time, unparadoxically. 

Zac Newman is a teacher of mindfulness

www.mindfultoday.uk

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Toni Graves on chairing the This Can Happen Awards

This year, I will once again chair the judging panel for This Can Happen Awards, which recognise the companies and individuals doing exceptional work to promote positive mental health in the workplace. 

In last year's inaugural awards, the standard of entries was very high. One of the things that stood out for me was the personal commitment and drive of individuals. Companies are implementing effective policies and programmes, which of course are important, but what shone through was the determination of people to really help others and drive progress. 

That's because, like me, many of those involved have their own personal stories on top of their professional motivations. I had such strong support at work when going through a difficult time in my life, and I care deeply that others have the same support when dealing with their own mental health issues.

I found it encouraging to see themes emerging in how companies are addressing mental health. Intersectionality was one, with companies making targeted interventions, for example with the LGBT+ community, as well as integrating mental wellbeing within wider inclusion programmes. Another was looking at mental health through the lens of, perhaps, a graduate or trainee and considering what it means for people at different stages of their careers.

I enjoyed the judging process immensely last year. Like This Can Happen's annual conference, the range of experts who came together – doctors, clinicians, HR professionals from the public and private sectors – generated a lively debate. Listening to different perspectives persuaded many of us to change our minds about the eventual winners – as a good judging process should.

The only category we could not pick a winner in was Innovation. It is difficult to show real originality in this space – so there's a challenge to this year's entrants! In part, this is because it can be hard to demonstrate the direct impact of work on mental health, but what we want to see is clear articulation of aims and a methodology for measuring progress, even if that is long term.

My advice is to stay focused on the personal impact of what you are doing – ultimately, as everyone working in this space knows, it is all about people.

Good luck to those who have entered and I very much look forward to being inspired as much by this year's entries.

Toni Graves
Global Head of Reward and Wellbeing at Allen & Overy 

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Webinars and 1:1 Insight Interviews

As part of our campaign to support you through this time, we are pleased to have launched free Webinars and the This Can Happen Insights.  The Webinars cover a host of new topics dealing with employee mental health in this unprecedented time, and the Insights are 1:1 interviews with business leaders discussing their recent challenges and triumphs.

Register FREE now on the links below and please feel free to forward to your colleagues.

WEBINARS

2020 vision: what meaningful and collaborative workplace mental health provision looks like in a year like no other
Brian Dow, CEO – Mental Health UK and guests - 27 October at 11.00am

In a year where we’ve had to adapt everything to tread water, we will explore how businesses across the UK have pivoted to respond to the mental health needs of their colleagues, their customers and their community. In this webinar, we will explore examples from across a range of businesses and share his thoughts on what role you could play.

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Personal Stories from our This Can Happen Ambassadors
Webinar took place on 14 July at 11.00am with Amy, Paul and Nick
Webinar took place on 6 August at 11.00am: Harpreet, Fabian and Sylvia

This Can Happen is delighted to introduce our 6 ambassadors who are all passionate individuals determined to drive change in workplace mental health. Join our webinar to hear their amazing individual stories about their own personal challenges with mental health, how they have overcome this and how they are now working to empower others in positive mental health within the workplace.

   VIEW WEBINAR - 14 JUL  VIEW WEBINAR - 6 AUG

Surviving the Summer Holidays - Family, Work and your Mental Health
Dr Judith Mohring - Webinar took place on 1 July at 11.00am

The summer holidays are often a challenge for working parents anyway, after 4 months of lockdown we may feel all our resources are spent. This webinar focusses on sharing and normalising the many highs and lows of family life over the last few months. We will discuss practical, positive approaches to the holiday period so we can all have a rest before September comes.

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Resilience, Bouncebackability and Gearing Up For Yet More Change
Harriet Beveridge - Webinar took place on 18 June at 11.00am

How do we re-emerge from a world that's been turned upside down? After months of pressure on our personal, family and business lives, how do we continue to deal with uncertainty and adapt to who-knows-what as Lockdowns ease? In this webinar, bestselling author, Harriet Beveridge, shares science-based, practical, powerful strategies for keeping resilient.

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Plagued by worry and negative thinking? How to deal with your Inner Critics and find your Inner Champion
Tracy Forsyth - Webinar took place on 14 May at 2.00pm

Most ambitious, hard-working and driven people are also very self-critical. In this unprecedented time of uncertainty about the future both in terms of work and home, the inner critic really comes to the fore with worst case thinking and negative self trash talk. This workshop shows you how to identify and understand your inner critics and unhelpful negative self-talk and discover inner champions to help balance them out.

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Nutrition for Stress, Fear and Uncertainty
Christine Bailey - Webinar took place on 7 May at 2.00pm

With everyone at home and work and school schedules disrupted, whether living alone or in lockdown with the family, loss of a daily routine can increase anxiety, stress and disrupt healthy eating. Nutritionist Christine discusses how to ensure a nutritious diet while being in lockdown and the key foods, nutrients and supplements to support mental health and reduce anxiety.

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Managing Mental Health during These Challenging Times
David Beeney - Webinar took place on 1 May at 11.30am

Our mental health has never been so challenged on mass as we struggle to cope with the coronavirus. In this webinar we look at the best ways of looking after ourselves and our colleagues with particular emphasis on how to stay emotionally connected while remote.

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Coping with Loss during COVID-19
Dr Chloe Mitchell - Webinar took place on 22 April at 11am

Navigating loss is part of everyday life in these uncertain times. It is unfolding on many fronts, with loss of life's norms, routines, working practices, social and professional support networks, financial securities and economic conditions. Most importantly, thousands are also contending with loss of loved ones to COVID-19 in very abnormal circumstances. This webinar aims to cover a wide range of circumstances to support loss.

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How to Sleep Well in a Changed World
Maryanne Taylor - Webinar took place on 17 April at 11.00am

As we now find ourselves in a new reality, with all the worry and anxiety this brings, you may find that you are now struggling with your sleep and sleep patterns have changed since this started. Even previously good sleepers, may find themselves struggling to get to sleep, waking in the night or very early in the morning.  

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COVID-19 – Curing Your Finances 
Sarah Steel -  Webinar took place on 7 April at 11.30am

Whilst the primary concern during this time is our physical health, our financial wellbeing is increasingly important as people worry about losing jobs, paying bills and seeing their investments fall. Join our webinar to learn how to manage your finances at this crucial time. 

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Top Tips for Optimising Home Working
Laura Fox - Webinar took place on 3 April at 11.30am

During these extremely challenging times, home working has become mandated where possible and this webinar will focus on ensuring that you can achieve maximum potential whilst working from home. It's so important to look after yourself physically and mentally, and we will provide top tips on how to approach this.

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Cancelled Exams – Supporting Our Teens With Their Mental Health
Celine Brown - Webinar took place on 30 March at 9.30am

Our young people are facing extraordinary circumstances, especially those who were working so hard towards national exams.  In this session, we provide support on how best to guide them during this uncertain time. 

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INSIGHTS - 1:1 INTERVIEWS

INTERVIEW TOOK PLACE ON TUESDAY 23 JUNE - 2.00pm
Chris Seel, Director - Harvey Nash

This Can Happen partnered with Harvey Nash, global leaders in technology recruitment, on a survey on the effects of Covid-19 on the mental health of workers in the tech industry. The results gave cause for concern - the mental health of a significant proportion of the profession has deteriorated during this time. Join Zoe Sinclair and Chris Seel to look at the findings and what we can do as a result, both in the tech industry and beyond.

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INTERVIEW TOOK PLACE ON THURSDAY 11 JUNE - 11.00am 
Yvonne Smyth, Group Head of Diversity and Inclusion - Hays Plc

This Can Happen is delighted to welcome Yvonne Smyth, Group Head of Diversity and Inclusion at Hays Plc. She is also a judge at This Can Happen Awards 2020. In conversation with Zoe Sinclair, Yvonne will be discussing a checklist for restarting workplaces, both from an employer and employee perspective.

VIEW 1:1 INTERVIEW

 

INTERVIEW TOOK PLACE ON WEDNESDAY 3 JUNE - 11.00am
Sarah Boddey, Head of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion - EMEA & APAC -
Northern Trust

Sarah Boddey, who is also a judge at This Can Happen Awards 2020, will be discussing the global implications for a mental health agenda following on from the pandemic. Responsible for EMEA and APAC Sarah has been at the coal face of an international business and the role they have played supporting the mental health of their staff.

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INTERVIEW TOOK PLACE ON WEDNESDAY 27 MAY - 11.30am
Dara Nasr, Managing Director  - Twitter UK

This 20 minute interview with Dara Nasr will look at the mental health landscape both from a staff perspective as well as the external social media element. There will be time for attendees to pose questions directly to Dara.
 

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INTERVIEW TOOK PLACE ON WEDNESDAY 20 MAY - 9.30am
Paul Feeney, CEO - Quilter Plc

To mark mental health awareness week, Zoe is delighted to interview Paul Feeney. Having spoken at This Can Happen 2019, we welcome him back to see how the landscape has changed and how leaders can prepare for the future regarding the mental health of their staff.
 

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INTERVIEW TOOK PLACE ON MONDAY 18 MAY - 11.00am
Jonny Benjamin MBE and Col Dame Kelly Holmes MBE mil

To celebrate mental health awareness week, we invite you to join Co-Founders of This Can Happen Zoe Sinclair and Jonny Benjamin MBE, and Col Dame Kelly Holmes MBE mil as they discuss the future of young people's mental health and the role workplaces can play. There will be time set aside for questions.

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INTERVIEW TOOK PLACE ON WEDNESDAY 13 MAY - 11.30am
Nancy Lengthorn, Head of Inclusion and Belonging - WPP

Nancy will be sharing her insights with Zoe on the remote role of mental health allies. She will discuss the challenges they have faced, the strategies that worked well, those that didn’t and what is next for her valuable mental health allies.


VIEW 1:1 INTERVIEW

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When one of your employees doesn't turn up for work unexpectedly

‘One of my employees has gone missing.’

It’s the call every HR Manager dreads.  An employee hasn’t arrived at work, it’s completely out of character and their line manager is concerned for their welfare. Would you know what to do if one of your employees didn’t turn up for work unexpectedly? 

In the UK, someone goes missing every 90 seconds. Missing can affect anyone; it cuts across every region, every age group and every community. For every person that goes missing, they leave devastated family, friends and colleagues, not knowing where they’ve gone or if they’re safe. The complex reasons that cause someone to go missing are vast. For a missing person, leaving is a sign they have reached breaking point: 8 in 10 face mental health problems, as well as issues like financial worries and relationships breaking down.

When Stephen Fry went missing three days into a production of Cell Mates in 1995, he said “When you feel you can’t go on, it’s not just a phase, it is a reality. I could not go on. And I would have killed myself if I didn’t have the option of disappearing."

The charity Missing People is the only dedicated lifeline when someone disappears, and offers the following advice:

Ensure your HR team store personal contact details and emergency / next of kin contact details for every member of staff.  Send an annual reminder to all staff to update HR with any changes.

Encourage a culture of keeping calendars up to date.

Consider developing and sharing a ‘Missing From Work Policy’ so line managers know what to do if an employee goes missing.

If you would like our detailed Missing from Work guidance for employers, please email corporatepartnerships@missingpeople.org.uk

Together, we can ensure best practice for any employee who may be facing difficult times.    

Zoe Hart
Director of People and Organisational Development
Missing People, registered charity 1020419
www.missingpeople.org.uk

@missingpeople

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COVID-19 Advice & Guidance

This Can Happen is dedicated to offering solutions for managing workplace mental health. In this difficult time, we wanted to share some simple tips and advice for looking after you and your colleagues' mental health.

See our FREE webinars to support you during the Covid-19 outbreak.

How to successfully work from home:
 

  • Plan your day – break your day into manageable chunks of time to ensure the right balance for your wellbeing
  • Keep up-to-date – ensure you know and understand company policies and plans and what is expected of you day-to-day
  • Regular communication – check in daily with your manager and colleagues – pick up the phone!
  • Technology – use available systems to keep in touch with your team
  • Dedicated workspace – set yourself up in a comfortable area with natural light
  • Flexibility – Sort a working day that works around you and your family – forget the 9-5!
  • Normal routine – as much as possible stick to the same waking and bedtime routines
  • Time out – have a break from your screen and social media – avoid watching too much news
  • Exercise – take a walk at lunchtime and get away from your work space
  • Diet – eat well and keep hydrated.
     

Advice for managers:
 

  • Plan – ensure you team know what is expected of them
  • Keep up-to-date – ensure you know and understand company policies and plans so you can reassure your team
  • Regular communication – check in daily with your team and call them to chat through any concerns/worries
  • Technology – use available systems to keep in touch with your team
  • Time out – encourage your team to have a break from their screens and social media
  • Exercise – encourage your team to walk at lunchtime and get away from their desk
     

Additional useful resources from our charity partner MHUK:
 

Apple technique:

AnxietyUK suggests practising the 'Apple' technique to deal with anxiety and worries:

  • Acknowledge – notice and acknowledge the uncertainty as it comes to mind
  • Pause – don't react as you normally do. Don't react at all. Pause and breathe 
  • Pull back – tell yourself this is just the worry talking, and this apparent need for certainty is not helpful and not necessary. It is only a thought or feeling. Don't believe everything you think. Thoughts are not statements or facts
  • Let go – let go of the thought or feeling. It will pass. You don't have to respond to them. You might imagine them floating away in a bubble or cloud
  • Explore – explore the present moment, because right now, in this moment, all is well. Notice your breathing and the sensations of your breathing. Notice the ground beneath you. Look around and notice what you see, what you hear, what you can touch, what you can smell. Right now. Then shift your focus of attention to something else - on what you need to do, on what you were doing before you noticed the worry, or do something else - mindfully with your full attention.
     

Useful resources:

NHS Coronavirus webpage
Coronavirus (COVID-19): UK government response
Anxiety UK
BBC - How to talk to your children about Coronavirus
Samaritans

 

 

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Coronavirus and my Wellbeing

The spread of the Coronavirus is very worrying news for us all. Turn on the TV and we hear stories of people in self-isolation, border closures and, tragically, an escalating death toll among the vulnerable.  

You may have already been asked by your employer to limit travel, work from home or avoid other people, and you may be finding it harder than you first thought.  

For people already struggling with their mental health these stories and measures might exacerbate their condition, and potentially trigger issues in people who have, until now, lived mentally healthy lives.   

Wall to wall news coverage and social media stories about empty supermarket shelves and national toilet roll and hand wash shortages don’t help, and our overly stressed, risk detecting brains risk losing perspective. 

Being informed about developments is obviously very important but be careful where you look. The  NHS coronavirus webpage  and  gov.uk coronavirus webpages are the most up to date places, and although social media is great for staying in touch, maybe take a break or limit your scroll time. 

Working at home 
It might sound brilliant but working from home is not without its pitfalls. For some, it's great for their wellbeing, but others may feel isolated and un-supported.  

The things we used to leave at work have literally been brought home with us. The once peaceful sanctuary of the bedroom has now become the office; the email inbox constantly calling and nagging for your attention when you should be enjoying bath time with the kids. 

ACAS  have flagged potential issues or those working at home. They include:  

- health and safety  problems (like lone working); communication and trust can deteriorate when an employee rarely sees their manager; homeworkers can become  stressed  and find it  hard to switch off, can become  fatigued/less productive 

Talk to your employer about how you’ll be supported.  It’s a topic I’ve talked about before and you can read more in my Agile working post. 

Working at home – with children 
If school closures go ahead many of us will find ourselves trying to carry on doing our normal day jobs whilst also caring for our children. 

My children are 9 and 7, I regularly work from home. I know how hard it is when they just want me to play, they don’t really understand that Daddy is working. It’s a tough balancing act. Speak to your employer about your family situation to see what would work best for you. 

A few things that may help… 
Speak to the school/college to find out what homework or digital learning will be available 

Check out free online courses, such as FutureLearn  and BBC Bitesize.  Your local library might also have online activities or resources you can use.  

So, what can we do to look after ourselves working from home? 

Stay connected 
If you are self-isolating or working from home, make technology work for you. Keep in touch with family, friends and work colleagues with video calls or social media platforms like WhatsApp.  

But also remember when to switch off! Just because you can answer emails at 11:30pm doesn’t mean you should (unless it works for your wellbeing of course, but even then, consider the recipient’s wellbeing and schedule it to go tomorrow morning instead).   

Keep Active 
As well as making us feel good and improving our physical health, studies have shown that getting active can help with symptoms of depression and protect us against anxiety. It can also help us feel good about the world around us.  

Exercising at home can be simple and there are options for most ages and abilities. The NHS has seated exercises as well as exercises that will improve your flexibility, balance and strength. 

There are also loads of free fitness apps you can use – my wife and I use the free Nike Training Club app. 

Keep your mind active too 
This might just be a great opportunity to learn something new. We know that keeping our minds active and creating new connections in the brain can have a hugely beneficial effect on our mental health and wellbeing, protecting us for years to come.  

Set some time aside for reading a book, listening to a podcast, doing a puzzle or an online course.  FutureLearn  and  OpenLearn  have free online courses you could try. 

Get some fresh air 
Research has shown that spending time in nature can improve your mood, reduce stress and have a positive impact on our overall wellbeing. 

If you’re going to be at home more make sure you still get all these positive effects. If you have a garden, then spend time in it. Open the windows, let fresh air in and get as much natural light as you can. Having flowers or potted plants in your home has also been shown to make us feel more relaxed. 

Plan your time 
Try and stick to your old routine as much as possible. Get up and go to bed at your usual time. Think about how happy you are with your usual structure and make some changes. 

Plan what you’re going to do. You might find you spend more time at home with your other half or kids. Remember, none of you will be used to this, so try to respect each other’s privacy and give each other some space. 

Where to get professional support 
If you are struggling to cope with the current situation, or find yourself feeling overly anxious about your health, here’s a couple of links that may help:  

The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP): how to cope if you're feeling anxious about coronavirus​

OCD UK and OCD Action​

About the Author
Terry is Director and Head of Training at Oakwood. He helps clients promote a proactive, rather than reactive approach to both personal safety and the positive mental health of their staff. He has over 12 years teaching experience in these areas, and advises organisations in the development of appropriate risk assessment and policy.

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Hear from This Can Happen Award Nominee Rhianwen Condron on her role at BAM Nuttall

The Mental Health and Wellbeing side of my role developed during my time at BMV M5 Oldbury Viaduct and has since become a full time role for me.

When I started working on this project, I was asked to develop and manage the Mental Health First Aiders (MHFA) working on the project. Within a short time, we were an active community of MHFA going out on site to talk to the workforce, being present at our site compounds at set days and times to talk to the workforce, and holding regular drop in and Time to Talk sessions. 

We put a lot of effort developing Mental Health and Wellbeing (MHWB) at the M5, which led to a culture of openness in talking about mental health. I was then asked by the Project Director to set up and manage a project MHWB room. I am still astonished by the success that we had with this room, which was driven by the culture of openness which we had developed.

Within three months of establishing the room, I had 247 conversations with members of our site teams about their mental health, their lives, and issues affecting them. Many of these were referred on for professional support.

I have recently been contacted by an operative who I supported at the M5 who received professional support. He wanted to write a testimonial of the support received, and to share his story.

Here is an extract from that testimonial:

"I would say that I have suffered depression for a long time, I coped by gambling. One day I spoke with my supervisor who signposted me to a MHFA.I have to be honest it was easier than I thought. I had always believed asking for help would make me look weak and if you have a problem then you need to “be a man” and deal with it. Speaking with the MHFA I realised that there was someone who could help and that my problem was an issue that others also suffered. I believe that every company big and small should have mental health support and if my story encourages just one person to come forward it would be great."

To me, this is what it is about; supporting and caring for people. I really didn’t want to be nominated for the This Can Happen award, but am extremely proud of having achieved Highly Commended in my category.

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Desks, deadlines and downward dogs

Article from Waitrose Magazine.

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Nicholas Jemetta - This Can Happen Future Leader Award Winner 2019

Winning the This Can Happen Future Leader award in 2019 was a career and life highlight for me, both professionally and personally. Winning was incredible; thrilling, humbling, surprising but overall a massive shock! I was up against inspiring people who are doing such amazing work to transform how we think and act about mental health in the workplace. I was proud to win against such a calibre of finalists.

And for me, that calibre of individuals and businesses is what the This Can Happen awards, and broader event, is all about. It brings people together who are demonstrating passion, energy, commitment, thought leadership and excellence in creating more mentally healthy workplaces across the country. Amongst these workforces and in these workplaces so much good is being done both for the people employed, and for the effectiveness and productivity of the organisations employing them.

My personal mental health and wellbeing journey has been relatively recent, however the momentum I’ve created has delighted and surprised me in equal measure. From sharing my story for the first time, to co-chairing the first Mental Health & Wellbeing colleague group in Sainsbury’s, to vlogging and blogging about my experiences to the world on LinkedIn, I can see and feel the positive impact I’m having on other people. This hasn’t been restricted just to my friends, family and colleagues as I’ve had complete strangers reach out to me about my work.

Winning the This Can Happen award has turbocharged this impact and my broader mental health and wellbeing agenda. It enabled me to attend the This Can Happen event, it grew my network and therefore the possibilities ahead of me, infinitely. It connected me to like-minded people who are willing to share their successes and their best practice, so that I can bring real value into all the work I do inside and outside the workplace.

I’m working more closely with This Can Happen on a few initiatives and will also be judging at this year’s awards. None of this would have been possible were it not for the This Can Happen awards. 

Nicholas Jemetta
Principal Product Manager / Co-Chair Mental Health & Wellbeing Group
This Can Happen Future Leader Award Winner (2019)
Sainsbury’s


https://www.time-to-change.org.uk/pledgewall/organisations/sainsburys
LinkedIn/Twitter handles:
https://www.linkedin.com/in/nicholasjemetta
@nicholasjemetta

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Being a judge for the This Can Happen Awards 2020

By Yvonne Smyth, Group Head of Diversity and Inclusion, Hays 

Mental health is arguably one of the most important factors which will affect our workplace over the next decade. People are living and working longer than ever before, and positively, more employers are realising that they need to support the good mental health of their colleagues within their workforce.

Many colleagues across many organisations may struggle with mental ill health over the course of their lifetime, so it’s vitally important we recognise those who are already leading the way and making a positive difference to supporting good mental health in the workplace. 

I’m really pleased to be part of the judging panel for this year’s This Can Happen Awards 2020. I’m looking forward to seeing evidence of innovative and impactful ways employers have implemented mental health strategies, initiatives, networks and campaigns. 

What’s important to me is seeing employers who are enabling more equal access to roles, career progression and support for those with mental health conditions. In data from our Hays Diversity & Inclusion Report 2019, we found that close to half (49%) of professionals believe there is unequal access to career progression opportunities because of mental health.

For employers, examples of structured career progression plans for all professionals regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation or mental health history is important – and purposeful support and interventions for everybody, regardless of background, to achieve their full potential within an organisation is what I’d like to see evidence of. 

It’s also important to note that access to resources to support mental health support shouldn’t be limited to existing staff, but also to prospective employers too. And we see this in our role at Hays as recruiting professionals. This is something that needs to be emphasised from your first point of contact with a candidate and maintained throughout their time with you as an employee. From the offset, you should make it clear that any mental health issue they wish to discuss will always be treated with confidentiality, respect and understanding, never judgement or intolerance.

I’m looking forward to seeing examples of how employers and individuals have been able to implement this cultural change and evidence of how staff are able to be honest and open about their mental health, meaning support can be provided much earlier. 

Yvonne Smyth 

Group Head of Diversity and Inclusion 
Hays 
Judge for This Can Happen Awards 2020 

www.hays.co.uk
https://uk.linkedin.com/in/yvonnesmyth
@HaysNews

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Supporting Team Members Returning to Work after a Bereavement

Grief Encounter Trauma Specialist and Training Manager, Stacey Hart, offers her advice on how employers can offer support to team members returning to the workplace after a bereavement.

Grief is a multifaceted response to loss, affecting us all differently. Returning to work after the death of a family member can for some seem an impossible task. For others, it can be a lifeline to gaining some control and focus. The transition will be non-identical for each person, and an organisations response should not be a ‘one size fits all’. 

  •  Professional Support

Ensure counselling is available for your team members. Awareness of professional support and the ability to accept help can be very important to your staff. Offer helpline numbers and information on organisations that can offer advice. 

  •  Awareness

Be sure all team members and managers are aware of the bereavement and details before that staff member returns. Sometimes the circumstances around a death can be personal, so it would be advisable to check with the staff member what they are comfortable sharing with their colleagues. 

  • Empathy 

Remind your team member that ‘It’s okay not to be okay’. Grief and mourning do not have a set time limit; be flexible with their workload, and shift patterns. Allow for a slow return to work with reduced hours to begin with, and let them know you understand that grief isn’t over in a week, or month or even a year. 

  • Keep Talking

It is always better to acknowledge the death rather than ignore it; encourage colleagues to talk with the staff member, and not shut down any conversations. Have regular catch ups with your employee to check in and see how they are coping.

  • Develop Strategies 

Concentration can be impossible when you are grieving. It might be useful to help your co-worker by proof reading or just checking in if they need any support with their workload. Offer regular breaks in the day and access to a safe space for time out if needed.

  • Sensitivity 

Be sensitive to milestones for the bereaved including date of death, birthdays and anniversaries, and any time off that may go hand in hand with this. 

 

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IN MEMORY OF CAROLINE FLACK

With thanks to Russ Kane of Men’s Radio Station for this important message and allowing us to post.

Apologies - long post.

I have a huge adverse reaction to people jumping on 'the grief wagon'. So I'm sitting here wondering why the suicide of a woman I've never met, never watched on TV, has affected me on such a deep level? I've been trying to process what it is that has resonated with me. It's a combination of factors I think.

1. I feel so sorry for her parents & family. For her, the pain is over. For those left behind, the pain is only just beginning. They will torture themselves until the day they, too, die. They will forever ask themselves "Did we do enough? Why didn't we know? What could I have done to avoid this outcome?" The horrible truth is that those are questions that will never be answered & will haunt them forever. They will never accept that it was not their fault. Which it wasn't.

2. The sheer, utter pointlessness of it all. Suicide Prevention is a much-revisited theme on www.mensradiostation.com. I knew nothing about it, really, until a year ago. Every guest we've interviewed who has attempted suicide (or, as some eminent psychologists term it, 'self-murder') have all, without exception been so grateful that they failed and are still alive. All of them thought they were a burden, only to discover an outpouring of love from family & friends that has changed their lives. Every single person who has jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge, and survived, has stated that the moment their fingertips let go, they instantly regretted their decision to die. It seems that there is no way out, but, there is. And that's the tragedy. The last thing to come out of Pandora's box was 'Hope'. Without hope, we feel completely lost. Being in a studio with the siblings of those who succeeded in dying has been the most emotional broadcasting experience of my life. Their pain is so raw & visceral it feels that you could reach out & touch it.

3. The hypocrisy: The same media outlets that hounded this tormented woman are now rapidly deleting rancid articles & saying what a tragedy it is. I can't even pretend to be annoyed - it's just the revolting way in which tabloids work. It sells. Certain 'showbiz journalists' are utterly beyond redemption. Meanwhile the wagons at ITV circle & protect certain stars & throw others straight under the bus. It's just how it works & it's far from fair or nice.

4. The pursuit of fame. The most diluted, pointless word in the English language is 'celebrity'. It is an utter pile of shit. Back in the day, there were true 'stars'. There still are - Springsteen, DeCaprio & many deserved others. But the obsession of reality shows, taking someone with no training, throwing them in the blinding spotlight, expecting them to cope, then telling them to f*** off when they are no further use, is utterly brutal. Who is to blame? Everyone! Everyone is complicit. The TV production companies, the advertisers in the ad breaks, the contestants themselves who crave it and yes, the viewers who lap this offal up by the bucketload. You all have dirty hands. Don't just blame TV - they are merely giving the public what it wants.

5. Social Media: It's ungovernable. It's the Wild West. When I was at Capital Radio for 20 years we had our huge share of 'disturbed haters'. We knew them because the letters were handwritten in green ink. The contents were always barking mad. But - consider this. They had to write a letter, get a stamp, find a postbox. It took a degree of effort. The 'keyboard warriors' of today can mess with someone with a few clicks of the keyboard. I puzzle how we went from 'Friends Reunited' (a fairly harmless way of communicating) to the trolling by people who are quite clearly as mad as a box of frogs & as vicious as a rabid dog. What does it say about the human condition? The hate is palpable, the loathing is limitless. Is this the white heat of technology...the revolution of the superhighway... so some utter moron can harass someone they've never met from their Mum's spare bedroom?

6. The CPS / Police. By any standard this was not a major crime. Unpleasant, yes, of course. But major? No. Yet hate preachers can spew their filth with almost impunity, knife crime soars, burglary rises. As the Jagger article quoted during the infamous drugs arrest in the 60's 'A butterfly on the wheel'. He's Sir Mick now. We've moved on.

7. The pointlessness of it all. Will anything change? No. Will people be kinder on social media? Unlikely. I read a tweet a few hours after Ms Flack's death was announced that was so disgusting I felt physically sick & I won't repeat its contents here. Will reality shows stop? Of course not. The world will move on. But not for the family. Long after the newshounds are on the scent of another 'scandal', long after this poor young woman is reduced to being a mention on the 'those we have lost in 2020' next December', her family & intimate friends will feel her loss like a physical pain. Trust me, I know.

8. Many of you have reached out to me in the past 24 hours with your own extraordinary stories. You are brave, resourceful & thank you for your extraordinary honesty. Some will now tell their stories publicly & I look forward to meeting you in the studio, some will, understandably keep a lower profile. You have my utter admiration.

9. You are NOT alone. We all have VERY dark thoughts. We beat ourselves up over our mistakes & failures. We rail against out frailties & weaknesses. We suffer from imposter syndrome. We think no one will understand. But they will. When Howard Jameson & I set up Men's Radio Station, I wrote the strapline "Where Men Really Talk" because keeping silent has disastrous consequences. I'd like to apply it to Women's Radio Station, too. Don't bottle it up. Talk. It's not a sign of weakness. You will not be judged. It's a sign of strength. If this sad, young death has highlighted anything at all, I hope it's that.

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Why attend & testimonials

"This Can Happen was a game changer for me. I left feeling inspired and energised, armed with practical advice and best in class case studies about how to create mentally healthy workplaces."
Nick Jemetta, Chair Mental Health & Wellbeing Group
   
"My six page word doc. of notes is a testament to how insightful and significant the event was! Thank you #TCH19."
Amy Priest, Wellbeing, Diversity & Inclusion – Mental Health Lead
   
"This Can Happen plays a crucial role in bringing together businesses from different sectors to share best practice. It’s an inspirational event full of progressive thinking and practical case studies on all aspects of mental health."
Tim Skelter, Corporate Affairs
   
"I left with renewed energy, practical solutions and confident with the knowledge that having a Wellbeing Strategy should happen, must happen, can happen! Looking forward to 2020 already!"
Karen Greville-Woods, Office Manager
   
"This Can Happen has truly helped to move the needle on mental health and wellbeing in the workplace. It provides access to exceptional speakers, innovative ideas and practical solutions for how businesses can work together with staff, customers and broader stakeholders to ensure that everyone can thrive at work and be fully supported with any mental health challenges they may face."
Sarah Boddey, SVP, Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer – EMEA & Asia Pacific
   

"This Can Happen was extremely well planned and executed, with a diverse and informative range of topics. The choice of speakers was excellent, bringing relevance and honesty to the subject matter. The conference demonstrated what other companies are doing to help employees and left us with many ideas about how we can accelerate our own strategy. We cannot wait until the 2020 conference."
James Martin, Bid Manager & Sales Communication Manager

"The content – once again – was brilliant. It is, far and away, the best conference out there."
Alex Bishop, Head of Organisational Development & Inclusion

 

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Self-compassion as a leader

Compassion is understood as a concern for the suffering of others, a warm hearted sensitivity to others misfortunes, a wish to improve that suffering, to alleviate the pain of the other.  As leaders we may be familiar with the imperative to show care and concern for those who work for us – tolerance and leniency where circumstances are challenging, kindness and humanity at times that those who work with us need particular warmth or understanding. Yet this desire to help others can sometimes fail when we turn that compassion to ourselves. Yet psychologists are finding that self-compassion is an important source of coping and resilience.

As leaders we cannot possibly meet everyone’s requirements and we cannot avoid being the object of blame and hostility when unwanted events occur. The relationship between a leader and follower is not just a cold transaction, it is often emotional rather than rational at heart, helping our team to develop their internal capability and resilience without drowning ourselves, without sacrificing our well-being in pursuit of theirs.        

As leaders we need to establish, and reinforce, the neural pathways of self-compassion. The concept of ‘good enough’ that was brought to us by the psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott is useful here.  Winnicott encouraged parents to veer away from aspirations of being ‘perfect’ parents and instead allow themselves to settle with the notion of good enough.   This is an idea that is very helpful to apply to leadership.  There is no one perfect leader and we can only strive to do our best, to be good enough.  

Your critical inner voice may say things like:

  • You are the leader, you are supposed to know
  • You are doing a terrible job
  • Someone else would be much more successful
  • I don’t think they should have hired me
  • I am letting my people down
  • I made a big mistake ……..
  • No-one respects me

In facing your inner critic you can acknowledge:

  • Yes I am the leader but I am learning
  • I am sure there are some things I am doing well
  • It is not helpful to compare myself to others
  • I must have faith that they hired me because I am capable
  • I care about my people, I am doing my best
  • I made a mistake but I have learnt from it
  • I must learn to respect myself, respect from others will follow

Turn up your self-compassion:

  • Speak to yourself as you would a valued friend
  • Imagine a team of supportive people around you, what would they say?
  • Allow yourself time to learn
  • Seek help where you can
  • Spend as much time thinking about things you have done well as things you feel you messed up
  • Note your successes however small
  • Strengthen your inner compassion by repeating these tasks daily.

For over 50 ways to build your resilience explore Bounce Back: how to fail fast and be resilient at work by Dr Susan Kahn.

 

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Jane Austin on winning Most Inspirational Leader at This Can Happen Awards 2019

It has been my passion to create a positive working environment from the day our start-up company began.  This meant being totally clear on the culture the CEO, myself and the rest of the leadership team wanted to establish for Wave.  This was the all-important background to my subsequent work on mental health in the company.   Before any strategy can be devised and implemented, it is vital to determine the culture the senior team wants and feels it can be true to.  

No mental health strategy will be successful if it conflicts with the company culture, so first lay out the foundations of that culture and as leaders, be prepared to challenge behaviours at all levels of the organisation if they aren’t in keeping with it.  If people are blamed for making a mistake at work or are told they’re not pulling their weight if they have any time off sick, then they’re likely to have no trust if the company launches an employee assistance line and tells them it is safe and confidential to ring.  

When I was devising my approach to mental health, I first set to work on the cultural piece. The first part of my strategy was to break down the stigma of talking about mental health. This was the cornerstone to everything that followed and was instrumental in our employees talking openly about depression, or counselling as if they were talking about what they saw on tv the night before.  There is genuinely no stigma in doing so at Wave.

Wave won two This Can Happen Awards, and in addition, I had the honour of winning most inspirational leader.  So what gave rise to this fabulous recognition?  Mainly it was putting into practice my passion to help people. Minimal budgets (we couldn’t afford an occupational health service) meant I had to be creative.  I asked questions that too many large corporates don’t ask.  Purchasing a Group Income Protection policy  was a turning point for Wave as its early intervention service enables our people to receive a psychiatric/psychological assessment within 48 hours of them letting us know they are struggling.  It enables employees to stay in work, without stigma, while they receive tailored treatment.  In the last 2 years we’ve had people with personality disorders, bi-polar, addiction, PTSD and other complex diagnoses, and while they may have had a few weeks or in a couple of cases up to 2 months off, some have received treatment that (with EMDR therapy) was life changing. Our line managers are supported too in what to expect and how to deal with complex cases in work, and mental health experts agree that keeping these employees in work is a positive wellbeing step.  My HR team are all as passionate as me and everyone in Wave knows they can always approach us with mental health difficulties. The HR team listen and care and as long as we do that, we will continue to achieve great things in the mental health space. 

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Winner of Best New Workplace Approach to Mental Health at This Can Happen Awards 2019

Contributor: Cicely King, Assistant Brand Manager & Thrive Employee Resource Group co-lead, MoneySuperMarket
https://www.linkedin.com/in/cicely-king-marketing/  https://www.linkedin.com/company/moneysupermarket-group/

It was a great privilege for Thrive to win the Best New Workplace Approach to Mental Health award at the This Can Happen 2019 Awards. Thrive is a relatively new employee resource group at MoneySuperMarket Group, set up in the summer of 2018, and it was an honour to see the group’s efforts recognised. 

Thrive stemmed from a new push for diversity and inclusion initiatives in the wider company, including mental health. Prior to Thrive, there simply wasn’t any conversation around mental health, and it was clear that mental health needed to be prioritised in order to create an inclusive workplace environment. Thrive’s strategic goals are to reduce the mental health stigma, open a conversation around mental health, and provide workplace focussed mental health training. 

The initiatives that Thrive implemented in the first year have set the groundwork to equip colleagues with both an increased awareness of mental health conditions, and the tools in which to manage mental health conversations at work. Thrive used a multifaceted approach to do so: providing certified training, webinars, promoting events in the mental health calendar, creating online and physical spaces for colleagues to focus on their mental health, and invited external and internal speakers to talk about their experiences. 

The most impactful initiatives were internal employees, including senior leaders, volunteering to talk about their experiences of mental health. To see co-workers, particularly senior leaders, discuss their mental health in an honest and vulnerable way is incredibly powerful, and has given other colleagues permission to talk openly about their own mental health. Gaining the support of senior leaders on Thrive’s work has been invaluable, and one of the biggest factors in the group’s success. Thrive has worked hard to receive feedback, listen to colleagues needs, and adapt our focus in order to improve initiatives and ensure that Thrive’s work in itself is as inclusive as possible.  

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Award Case Studies

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Research

Click here to download the Accenture Research Report: It's not 1 in 4, it's all of us.

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Book now

We encourage companies to bring a delegation to This Can Happen 2020 as mental health can affect all those within a workplace. If you are interested in a single ticket or discount ticket for a charity/public sector or small business please email info@tchevents.com 

This Can Happen Future Fund
This Can Happen supports and invests in people and organisations who would benefit from attending our events so we can continue to invest in the future of workplace mental health. If you would like to apply to the Fund for a complimentary ticket to This Can Happen 2020 please email info@tchevents.com with FUND in the subject line, outlining why you and/or your organisation would benefit from a complimentary pass.

BOOK NOW

This Can Happen Delegation of 10 - £6,990 + VAT

  • 10 tickets to This Can Happen Conference on 24 November 2020

This Can Happen Delegation of 5 - £3,745 + VAT

  • 5 tickets to This Can Happen Conference on 24 November 2020

This Can Happen FRIENDS PLUS - £9,950 + VAT

  • 10 tickets to This Can Happen Conference on 24 November 2020
  • 2 award entries (any category)
  • 4 tickets to the awards reception
  • Access to 4 webinars for any of their workplace to log in to throughout 2020
  • Invites to join a roundtable series throughout the year
  • Opportunity to draft a blog for our website resources section that will be promoted across our social channels

This Can Happen FRIENDS - £4,950 + VAT

  • 5 tickets to This Can Happen Conference on 24 November 2020
  • 2 award entries (any category)
  • 2 tickets to the awards reception
  • Access to 2 webinars for any of their workplace to log in to throughout 2020
  • Invites to join a roundtable series throughout the year
  • Opportunity to write a blog for our website resources section that will be promoted across our social channels

 

BOOK NOW

 

Companies that attend This Can Happen include:

 

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CAA ARTICLE ON THIS CAN HAPPEN AWARD WIN AND MENTAL HEALTH

"I believe the principal challenge for an employer trying to improve its capabilities around wellbeing is the demand to work ‘below deck’ and ‘on deck’ at the same time." Leo Capernaros - Wellbeing Manager

Being announced as winners of ‘Wellbeing Team of the Year’ left myself and Ben Alcott (the chair of our Wellbeing Board) speechless, it was a great moment and fortunately there was no requirement to make a speech…phew.

We won the award based on the huge journey the Civil Aviation Authority has taken in terms of mental health and broader wellbeing over the last two years.  I should stress, this award doesn’t mark the end of that journey, rather a shiny marker post, telling us we’re on the right track.

A brief recap: We began by establishing our starting position, carrying out a deep-dive analysis of our data, listening to colleagues, and building a picture of best practice.  This led to the formation of a Wellbeing Board, hiring of a Wellbeing Manager (me!), building a network of MHFAs and the introduction of a wellbeing strategy.

This permanent ‘infrastructure’ then facilitated various policy and system reviews and the introduction a host of initiatives e.g. training for managers and staff, wellbeing classes, an online wellbeing assessment tool, health checks, a staff gym, colleague blogs, lunchtime speakers and wellbeing maps for our office locations.

I believe the principal challenge for an employer trying to improve its capabilities around wellbeing is the demand to work ‘below deck’ and ‘on deck’ at the same time.  ‘On deck’ you have all the visible stuff e.g. activities, campaigns, tools etc. ‘Below deck’ you have all the mechanics such as policy, systems, procedures and services.

If the approach focusses too much on policy, process, services (below deck) then employees will not see or feel a difference, stigmas remain unchallenged, colleagues won’t know how to access support and may remain reluctant to ask.  However, if the approach focusses too much on campaigns, events, new tools etc (on deck activity) then the credibility of this good work might be undermined by inadequate support systems that may let colleagues down at the crucial moment.

Both areas are of equal importance and need to be addressed in tandem (which is really difficult!).  However, at the CAA we do not view this as a project or an isolated campaign, rather a continuous process of improvement that is now part of our ‘business as usual’.

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3 Day Online Conference

In 2020 This Can Happen will be an international, online event taking place over 3 days: 23 - 25 November.

Across the 3 days you can dive in and out of the conference choosing the sessions that best suit you. From panels to keynotes, interviews to experientials, you will still have the opportunity to network, ask questions, meet exhibitors and chat to speakers. Click here to download the Agenda.

Click here to book you and your colleagues tickets for the online event. Should you have any queries email us at info@tchevents.com

Watch our online launch video here:

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FAQs

WHO SHOULD ATTEND THIS EVENT?

The event is for all employers and employees. We all have mental health regardless of industry and location and This Can Happen provides solutions that will help you and your colleagues.  We encourage organisations to send delegations from post room to boardroom. Over 200 companies are participating from every business type. 

IS THE EVENT ONLINE?

This Can Happen is an online event taking place over 3 days (23 - 25 November) so you can dial in from your desk wherever your location. You will be able to pick however many of the sessions you want to participate in and if you are unable to make the time you will be able to watch the session at your leisure for up to 30 days afterwards.

HOW DO I PURCHASE A TICKET TO THE ONLINE EVENT?

Click here to purchase tickets - for any queries please e-mail us on info@tchevents.com

CAN I BUY TICKETS WITHOUT SUBMITTING DELEGATE NAMES?

Yes, you absolutely can. Purchasing the tickets will confirm your places at the online event. You will be sent a registration link once you have finalised your purchase and you are welcome to submit delegate names by October 2020.

WHAT PAYMENT METHODS DO YOU ACCEPT?

We accept the following payment methods: 

  • Wire Transfer
  • BACS
  • Debit/Credit Card

Wire Transfer - BACS details:
Bank Name: Barclays Bank
Account Name: SBL Ideas Ltd
Sort Code: 20-76-90
Account Number: 637770370
IBAN Number: GB47 BARC 2076 9063770370
BIC Number: BARCGB22

Payment & Access
All conference delegation fees must be paid within 14 days of receipt of our invoice. Payment of a ticket will entitle the ticket holder to attend any conference session at the online event across the 3 days.

SBL Ideas Ltd, the organisers of This Can Happen, reserve the right to deny event access if the delegate fails to provide relevant proof of registration and payment. For wire transfers please use the following details above using your company name or invoice number as the reference.

 

I HAVE PURCHASED TICKETS. NOW WHAT?

You will receive a registration link to submit delegation details nearer the event time. Please e-mail info@tchevents.com if you do not receive the link.

HOW DO I GET ACCESS TO THE ONLINE EVENT?

You will be sent a link approximately 2 weeks before the event to access the online event and have time to plan the 3 days and which sessions you would like to attend. If you have any queries please email info@tchevents.com. There is no limit to the amount of people who can attend any session so you can watch as many as you like.

I AM INTERESTED IN BECOMING A SPEAKER FOR THE ONLINE EVENT

We’d love to hear from you! Please email info@tchevents.com to discuss further.

I WOULD LIKE TO BE A PARTNER/SPONSOR FOR THE ONLINE EVENT

We’d love to have you on board! Please email info@tchevents.com to discuss suitable options.

WILL I RECEIVE REGULAR EVENT UPDATES?

We are sending out regular email newsletters with updates and exciting content from confirmed speakers. To sign up to receive the newsletter please email info@tchevents.com

Please also follow us on FacebookLinkedin and Twitter.

I CAN NO LONGER ATTEND. CAN I REQUEST A REFUND?

We are sorry to hear you can no longer attend. Please email info@tchevents.com to discuss. 
 
Please note the following cancellation charges will apply:

  • 100% refund - if notified on or before 20 March 2020
  • 50% refund - if notified between 21 March 2020 - 10 August 2020. A £75 administration fee per ticket will be charged
  • From 11 August 2020 the passes are non-refundable

Please note early-bird delegation sales are non-refundable and the passes are not transferrable to another company or organisation.

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Conference Info

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Exhibit & Sponsor

Partner with us!

Whether you are keen to partner with us on a large scale in line with your objectives or you are keen to exhibit or sponsor our online event in November please do get in touch. By being involved you join our cause to shift mental health awareness into real action.

Check out our video, then simply complete the form below to download our brochure and find out more about being involved at the online event.

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Conference

In 2020 the event will be online across 3 days, 23 - 25 November.

The Agenda will address key issues around workplace mental health offering practical solutions and insights for every delegate. The Agenda for 2020 is currently being researched. If you are keen to speak please contact info@tchevents.com

Simply complete the form below to download the 2019 Agenda.

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Awards

This Can Happen Awards were launched to celebrate and recognise companies and individuals who have shown excellence in their approach towards positive mental health for their employees and colleagues. The Awards are open to all workplaces and individuals who champion mental health, and are open for submissions from all types of workplaces - large or small, not-for-profit, every type of industry and from any country.

We are delighted to announce that Allen & Overy are the title sponsor of our Awards.

“Allen & Overy are delighted and proud to be the title sponsor for the This Can Happen Awards 2020. In my role as Jury Chair last year I saw the excellent work that organisations are doing and it is evident that there is an overwhelming positive impact that winning one of these Awards has on both individuals and companies alike. We are looking forward to judging the entries and hosting this year’s awards reception.”  
Toni Graves, Global Head of Reward and Wellbeing, Allen & Overy

View the shortlist for This Can Happen Awards 2020. 

We are delighted to announce that the final judging will be taking place over two days in mid-September and all category winners will be announced at a live-streamed online Awards Ceremony on Wednesday 7 October and the book of all the winning case studies will be available that evening for download.

In the meantime, to give you a taste of what you can expect from the 2020 This Can Happen Awards, watch our 2019 Highlights video below.  See all the winners from the 2019 awards and view the This Can Happen Awards ebook, introducing the 2019 winners and sharing the learnings of the case studies entered. 

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Contact Us

Got a question? Please email info@tchevents.com. We would love to hear from you!

 

 

 

 

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Men's Health

"The seismic shift here is that talking and being more open is seen less as a sign of weakness among men but more as simply being honest."    
Russ Kane, Founder of Men's Radio

New Year – New You!  Hit the Gym in 2020!

These are the headlines that the media relentlessly bombard us with. It’s lazy, cliché-ridden journalism. What is missing from the exhortations to become ripped and ‘hench’ is any mention of improving one’s mental health. It is a glaring omission. Mental health is one of the biggest issues facing today’s society. The suicide statistics make frightening reading, with 80% being male compared to 20% female – a vast chasm of difference. It gets worse. Suicide is the single biggest killer of men under the age of 45 in the UK. A staggering and disturbing statistic. One of the root causes is that men simply don’t talk, preferring instead to ‘bottle it up’, with sometimes disastrous consequences. Women, in contrast, are far more comfortable discussing deep-rooted issues with their close friends. 

So, what can be done in the new decade – optimistically-termed the Roaring Twenties? What progress do I envisage?

Firstly, men are being encouraged to communicate. Terms such as ‘man up’, ‘grow a pair’. ‘real men don’t cry’ will eventually be consigned to history as was ‘one for the road’. The seismic shift here is that talking and being more open is seen less as a sign of weakness among men but more as simply being honest.

Second, mental health in the workplace is a major change towards how employees are treated by management. There is a concerted effort to treat mental health with the same gravity as any other medical condition or health and safety issue. First aid kits and fire extinguishers exist in every office and factory. It will take time, but the mental well-being of employees will be taken as seriously.

Third, have a digital detox. Social media can be a wonderful communication tool, keeping you in touch with family and close friends. Equally, it can exert a deeply disturbing negative effect, as people strive to emulate the ‘perfect lives’ that they see on-line. Digital life is not real life. Don’t fall down the bottomless rabbit hole – real life is far too short and precious to waste.

Fourth, don’t ‘catastrophise’. Considerable research has demonstrated that 95% of the ‘disasters’ that you imagine will befall you as you lie awake at 4am will never, ever happen.

Finally, the motto by which I live – ‘Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff’. It’s just not worth it.

2020 marks a new decade of understanding, progress and help. It is out there – you just need to be open and look for it.

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Image Gallery

This Can Happen 

This Can Happen Awards

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Conference Sessions 2019

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Our Vision

Our vision is to support organisations of all sizes across the world, to empower workplace mental health. Everything we do is solutions-led - we host an award winning annual 6 stream conference, run an awards programme, year round networking events plus this site is packed with useful resources for employers and employees to access for free.

This Can Happen Future Fund
This Can Happen supports and invests in people and organisations who would benefit from attending our events so we can continue to invest in the future of workplace mental health. If you would like to apply to the Fund for a complimentary ticket to This Can Happen 2020 please email info@tchevents.com with FUND in the subject line, outlining why you and/or your organisation would benefit from a complimentary pass.

Meet the Founders and team behind This Can Happen here

We are proud to be award winning:

 

                

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FREE Resources

Packed with videos, podcasts, award case studies and articles, all brimming with useful tips and solutions, simply register free below to access all our resources.

Keen to contribute something? Please get in touch info@tchevents.com – we would love to hear from you!

COVID-19 Advice & Guidance

Sharing some simple tips and advice for looking after you and your colleagues’ mental health.

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Mental health experts all contribute to our collection of useful articles, including our speakers, sponsors and Advisory Editorial Board.

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Download any of our podcasts to then listen to them in your own time.

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Take a look through the case studies of the winning companies who submitted their work in our Awards last year.

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Our research programme with Accenture has spanned across 2 years. Download the report feature the findings presented at This Can Happen 2019.

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Packed with solutions from each conference session or awards programme our ebooks are easy to download and share with colleagues.

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3 ways to create meaningful change in your workplace

By Tania Diggory, Founder and Director of Calmer

How do you motivate your team? Financial bonuses, dress-down days and team dinners all have their place as reward schemes. However, studies show that human behaviour is ultimately what makes or breaks a motivated and productive workplace. Encouraging autonomy, personal recognition and a flexible approach to work are all examples of what can nurture a consistently positive outlook at work - and a happy mind really does make for a happy business.

That said, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to taking care of your team’s mental health. Understandably, this can make the topic of mental health feel like a complex and overwhelming concept for senior leaders to approach. How do you talk about mental health and communicate it in an inclusive way? How do you effectively support a member of staff who is struggling with their mental health?

First of all, it’s important to recognise that we all have mental health, and our state of mental wellbeing can change from day to day, depending on the circumstances in our lives at any given time. However, there are widespread mental health issues related to work, and there are trends across different age groups too. Research has shown that stress is currently the leading cause of physical illness and as a result, the most common reason for working days lost in the UK. In recent years, the number of professionals being signed off from work due to stress and burnout has risen rapidly with burnout typically peaking between the ages of 25 and 44. People of different generations bring different approaches to their work, so consider how you can best support the millennial generation (ages 23 - 38), alongside your multi-generational teams and what may be important to them.

It is therefore worth implementing a mental health strategy that views each member of staff individually, as well as to implement diverse wellbeing initiatives in order to meet various needs of all staff. This combination can enable everyone to feel inspired, engaged and motivated to do their very best while at work (and even outside of the workplace too).

To get started, consider adopting these three motivational theories and begin creating meaningful change in your workplace:

1. Build rapport and trust through recognition

Business success is more than just the bottom line; staff morale plays a significant part in enabling business success in the longterm. All human beings share similar basic needs: safety, security, social acceptance, etc. At work, you can enable your team to feel understood, valued and appreciated for their efforts by building rapport and trust through the recognition of their efforts, meeting that social acceptance need. Consider the ways you can demonstrate appreciation of your staff’s efforts and be creative too - saying thank you goes a long way, but also team initiatives like a sharing session at the start of each meeting, to congratulate each individual on their personal wins, can boost this further. Find time within your current routine to build in these moments of appreciation, and they will soon become embedded within your working culture.

2. Make the time to talk

Can you recall a time when you’ve gone through a challenging situation and found it difficult to talk about it or share it with others? It’s easy to observe someone’s behaviour on the surface and create a judgement or assumption, before knowing the bigger picture they are experiencing. Take some time aside each month to connect personally with those who you manage, and create opportunities for discussion. Alongside regular check-ins, If you notice a change in a behaviour, a spontaneous 1-2-1 can be a valuable way to connect and reassure them that you are there to support them at work. Reassure them that whatever they are going through is valid and is not expected to be suppressed while at work. With that in mind, as a manager, ensure you also have a strong support network inside and outside of work to share any struggles you experience.

3. Encourage flexible working

As individuals, our most effective means of working can often differ to the traditional working day. Studies consistently show that offering staff a flexible approach to working hours, as well as time off in lieu for working longer hours during busy periods, can reduce stress, lower the number of sick days and improve staff retention. The message you enforce by encouraging a flexible approach is “however you work best, I trust you to get the work done”. This builds trust and alongside clear communication before setting tasks, as well as worthwhile reviews after tasks are complete, this can skyrocket productivity and morale.

These are vital starting points for building a mental health strategy and fostering a culture of openness and ease in relation to talking about mental health. Meaningful change in your workplace can start with just one person, and a group of people committed to making a difference can set something truly special in motion.

What choice will you make today?

About Calmer

Calmer empowers entrepreneurs and purposeful teams to nurture good mental health and wellbeing. We do this through digital courses, workplace training, events, workshops and 1:1 sessions. We believe happy minds makes for happy businesses.

Find out more at thisiscalmer.com, join The Reignite Project to reduce burnout in the workplace, and follow @thisiscalmer.

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'Wellbeing' is not a PR stunt

"In our relentless pursuit of efficiency, productivity, customer satisfaction and reputation, I wonder if we’ve put the cart before the horse?"

Dave’s organisation has a wellbeing policy. They are on it. They have Mental Health Champions, an Employee Assistance Programme and a whole section on the intranet about ‘sleep hygiene’, healthy eating, the office choir and cycling to work. 

But is it all just window dressing? Are we just papering over the cracks?

That same organisation wants Dave to do the job that 4 people used to do. He is forced to work the most anti-social shift pattern and be “Agile”, working in different locations and on his own most of the time. Not to worry though. He’s had that half hour workshop on ‘Managing Stress in the Workplace’, so if he can’t cope, we’ve done our bit!

Dave would love to follow the ‘Top Ten Tips for Work Life Balance”, splashed all over the wellbeing page, but the demands of the job means he never sees his young family. His wife doesn’t much care for the “We develop our people” plaque on the reception wall either. After all, saying you care is one thing… meaning and showing it is another.

In our relentless pursuit of efficiency, productivity, customer satisfaction and reputation, I wonder if we’ve put the cart before the horse?

Simon Sinek has a view…’Customers will never love a company unless the employees love it first.’

Surely there’s more to ‘wellbeing’ than one-off lunchtime yoga workshops or articles about quinoa and coconut water on latest news?

Employees should be at the very heart of what an organisation does. The best companies in the world understand that by creating a culture of engagement and involving their people, especially in challenging times, they get the best from them. It is a journey rather than an event, and best of all… it’s ‘Win-Win.’

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Nadiya Hussain opens up to This Can Happen ahead of the November event

TCH is delighted to welcome this year’s keynote speaker Nadiya Hussain who delighted Great British Bake-Off fans with her charm, humility and cake-making skills. Nadiya harnessed her TV win to spread an open and honest message about mental health and has become one of the UK’s most prominent advocates of embracing and tackling mental health by speaking candidly about facing her demons.

Q. Let’s start at the beginning. Before Bake-Off you were an ordinary mum, juggling life like millions of women around the world. Did you ever face mental health challenges before you found fame?

A. Before Bake-Off I was a stay at home mum. I gave up work a few weeks before I got married and then stayed at home with the kids and started a degree. There are challenges with being a stay at home mum, but I have faced these challenges for as long as I can remember. Being at home creates an image of laziness or lack of ambition and a perception that we rely on the system to provide for our children. So despite making an active decision to stay at home I was constantly faced with these issues which added to my mental load and I often felt very low.

Q. Did your mental health change after you won Bake-Off?

A. It changed and it was challenged in a big way. I found myself in completely new situations so my anxiety was doing things I didn’t recognise. It has been at its worst since being in the public eye, but equally it has left me forced to really understand my anxiety and how to deal with it.

Q. You have said that you don’t take medication for your illness?

A. I don’t take medication for my illness because I also suffer from PTSD. It wasn’t right for me at the time, but I am not ruling it out completely. It may be something I will have to consider in the future.

Q. How do you keep the symptoms at bay when you’re working?

A. The symptoms are always there and can vary from day to day.  I have great days and awful days and days in between. Now rather than putting all my efforts into trying to hide my symptoms, I do the total opposite, I allow the panic to come on and somehow that really helps the symptoms subside and sometimes disappear.

Q. You talk about your panic disorder ‘monster’. Can you explain why you’ve given your illness that name?

A. Well as an adult with young children I needed a way to explain anxiety to my children in a more tangible manner so that they could understand it. So when it’s at its worst my monster shouts in my face and when it’s somewhere in the middle, it kind of follows me around and taps on my shoulder and when it’s most manageable it’s small enough to sit in my pocket and I can go about my day.

Q. Your openness about mental health is inspirational. How can we encourage other high profile figures to open up in order to change the narrative on workplace wellbeing?

A. Being open has not been easy and it has been a battle with myself as to whether I wanted to be so open about my anxiety. Often having a mental health illness can make a person appear weak. Vulnerability isn’t something that we encourage in our society, in general. I think the narrative is changing as a whole and we are getting better at talking. That’s why it’s important for everyone, no matter what platform, to talk. We all have a platform big or small and we should use it to talk about the things people want to keep swept under the carpet.

Q. You have spent much of your time in the spotlight contributing to an ongoing discussion about mental health. Where do you see society compared to 10 years ago and where do you think we need to aim to be 10 years from now?

A. 10 years ago I could not have fully explained mental health. Mental health like any other illness is an illness, so that is how we need to treat it. Like an illness. It needs funding, it needs to be taken seriously. Change is happening, albeit slow, there is progress. Progress is all we need and as long as we keep talking and continue to bring it to the fore who knows where we will be in 10 years. Perhaps an A&E for people suffering with mental illness, where they can be treated like any other emergency ailment?

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A top London law firm tackles workplace bullying

Philip Landau, employment lawyer at Landau Law Solicitors, spoke to TCH about supporting employees with mental health in a high pressure work environment and challenging workplace bullying with actionable strategies.

As someone who frequently sees the consequences of serious workplace bullying, its continued prevalence and links to mental health do not shock me. It doesn’t take an employment lawyer to tell you that workplace bullying creates a lose-lose situation for both the employee and the business. Bullying a person who has a mental condition is just as bad as creating a mental health condition where one did not exist beforehand.

But what actually is “bullying”? It is almost universally considered to be offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour which undermines, humiliates or denigrates the victim. Workplace bullying often involves being excluded from meetings, email chains and office social events, being blocked for promotion or having responsibilities taken away. It can also include unwarranted poor performance reviews and criticism, verbal abuse and spreading gossip and rumours.

There is no specific claim that can be made for bullying in the employment tribunal, however it is possible to make a claim for constructive dismissal if you have 2 years service based on a breakdown of trust and confidence leading to a resignation.

Furthermore, many employees with mental health problems will be legally classed as having a disability and may be able to make discrimination or harassment claims if bullying is related to, or exacerbates an existing mental health condition. This is particularly if the employer was aware of the condition and has failed to support the employee.

Of course, prevention is always preferable. Perhaps what saddens me most when I deal with cases involving workplace bullying and mental health problems is that often the problem could have been tackled early on, minimising the overall harm to the employee. Many individuals are reluctant to rock the boat and only take steps to address the issue when matters are almost at breaking point.

Just a few of the many strategies businesses can employ to fulfil their legal duties to employees are:

  • Providing all managers with regular stress and mental health training
  • Offering and (perhaps more importantly) publicising confidential employee advice services and a range of ways for employees to report bullying
  • Having a clear anti-bullying policy including a range of examples of behaviours that will be treated as bullying, and adopting a zero-tolerance approach.

Putting the appropriate mechanisms in place can be so important to ensure that employees can genuinely feel supported.

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Being a working carer - how employers can help

Rebecca Fuller talks about caring for her mum and how her colleagues support her commitments outside of work.

I was about 20 when I felt the full-force of caring for my mum. She had lived with ill-mental health throughout my life; however, it was at this point that she had a traumatic emotional breakdown and I took on the role of being mum to my mum.

Caring for her consists of trying to fulfil a continuous need. She needs to hear my voice, gain my reassurance, my support and for me to listen to her hourly struggles in order to decipher a world she has never truly understood or felt part of. Everyone wants to feel needed. But this is a different need, an endless one with little reward.

Some days I feel desperately sad that I cannot not help her, some days I feel overwhelmed with frustration at the anger and destructive behaviour that is thrown my way and then other times I feel so much guilt at the thought of not giving up work and my career in order to care for her every need.

Working Life

Working life has been great for its structure and for enabling me to detach myself from the painful challenges of caring.

I have always been highly protective of my mum and found the relationship and behaviour she exhibits very difficult to explain, so I started writing blogs about my experience and sharing them on social networks. This then led to conversations with workplace colleagues who asked me about it, which gave me such huge comfort and increased my confidence to talk about the challenges I face.

My workplace is made up of a very empathetic leadership team who champion flexible working for employees. The ability to take time off at short-notice is a valuable necessity when you are a working carer. Especially as caring for a parent with ill-mental health is highly unpredictable so having the ability to be available to help her reduces the significant level of stress that I already experience.

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The importance of mental wellbeing to improve your leadership performance

Psychotherapist Noel McDermott spoke to TCH about leaders and the mental health of their teams:

“If you want to be a progressive business leader, now is the time to invest in the emotional and mental health of your team, they are after all your most valuable resource. Most organisations now understand fundamentally the link between healthy workforce and increased productivity and most of us understand that health and wellness includes mental wellness. 

This is just as true for the leaders as it is the followers in an organisation. Leadership and follower-ship styles are intimately linked, one begets the other. 

Leading by Example

Leadership is much more about leading by example. The modern organisational leader gives permission through their actions and behaviour to the type of culture they wish to see in their organisation.

Mentally Healthy Relating Styles

Research shows that organisations are more productive based around mentally healthy relating styles such as open dialogue; emotional literacy and behaviour; diversity, tolerance and team culture; emotional warmth and bonding; reduction of fear. 

Mental well-being is more than the absence of illness. In the same way that physical fitness is more than just the absence of having for example a bad back! More and more we talk now about mental fitness being a similar goal that is achievable in the same way that physical fitness is. Mental well-being has similar benefits in making you feel great as well as improving your performance globally. 

5 evidence-based steps to help leaders improve their mental well-being and mental fitness 

  1. CONNECT with the people around you: Family, friends, colleagues and neighbours. Spend time developing these relationships. 
  2. GET UP GET ACTIVE - It’s not just about the gym. Take a walk, go cycling or play a game of football. Find an activity that you enjoy and make it a part of your life.
  3. LEARN LEARN LEARN – Learning new skills can give you a sense of achievement and a new confidence. So why not sign up for that cooking course, start learning to play a musical instrument, or figure out how to fix your bike? 
  4. ALTRUISM – Even the smallest act can count, whether it's a smile, a thank you or a kind word. Larger acts, such as volunteering at your local community centre, can improve your mental wellbeing and help you build new social networks.
  5. MINDFULNESS - Be more aware of the present moment, including your thoughts and feelings, your body and the world around you. Some people call this awareness "mindfulness". It can positively change the way you feel about life and how you approach challenges.

Without a doubt the best way to foster a healthy productive environment is to be that yourself.

Good leaders must make sure that employees know how to access support should they need it; a resilient organization enables their employees to thrive amidst challenging and uncertain times.

Being a workplace that looks out for the mental health of its employees does more than create a healthy work environment but has proven benefits to productivity and your role as a leader/employer is at the centre of this.

Noel McDermott is a Psychotherapist and International Speaker with over 25 years’ experience in health, social care and education. An impactful workshop leader, he delivers bespoke training on a range of social care, clinical and human rights ethics and issues across multiple sectors. He is the founder and CEO of three organisations, Psychotherapy and Consultancy Ltd, Sober Help Ltd and Mental Health Works Ltd.

 

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Penny James, Direct Line Group CEO talks about creating a mental-health friendly workplace

The significance of an effective mental health and wellbeing strategy in the workplace cannot be overestimated. At Direct Line Group a core part of our people strategy is creating a workplace that promotes open and honest conversations, ensuring there’s always someone our colleagues can talk to should they need to. As we’re all becoming better informed about the reach of mental health problems the thing that has really stood out to us, and something we’re determined to improve is the extent to which people suffer mental health problems under the organisational radar. 

Our first step in overcoming this was to train all our managers to have the right conversations with their people, through mental health awareness training, covering potential causes and symptoms. We then launched a network of mental health first aiders, so we have a mental health first aider on every floor, in every office to help colleagues who may be struggling.

Culturally this has transformed our organisation because I’ve seen first-hand how people speak openly about their anxieties and lean on colleagues to help them. I remain in awe with the concern and care that people have for their colleagues and am convinced that not only does this help on a personal level, it also builds connections as a team.

We’re incredibly proud of the open culture we are developing. Not only have we seen an increase of 130% in requests to our new Employee Assistance Programme which provides information, advice and services to help our people deal with events and issues in their everyday lives but we’ve also noticed that more people are willing to disclose that they were off work due to mental health issues. It just goes to show that we are really beginning to lift the lid on a situation where many were suffering in silence.

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Digital detox - time to go offline!

Business leaders must take the impact of today’s constantly connected world on the mental health of their employees seriously.

There is no question that technology can give companies a competitive advantage and 24/7 connectivity offers valuable opportunities for flexible working. But with it, a culture has developed where employees increasingly feel bombarded by multiple streams of digital information and feel pressure to be available around the clock. The boundaries between work and personal lives have become blurred like never before and evidence is growing about the negative impact on stress levels, sleep and personal relationships. 

Many business decision makers introduce new technologies into the workplace without considering the impact on their employees properly.  According to Shine Offline research, digital technology causes stress and overwhelm for 86% of employees. A Microsoft study released last year concluded that in order for technologies to be effective they must sit within a strong digital culture with clear guidelines about the way in which digital tools should be used and expectations around employee contactability. Leaders and managers have a crucial role to play in creating a healthy digital culture by modelling positive tech behaviours inside working hours and out, and ensuring staff feel able to focus in their roles, take proper holidays and take sufficient quality downtime to rest and recover.

Anna Kotwinski, Co-founder Shine Offline

About Shine Offline

Shine Offline support workplaces and their people to have healthy and sustainable relationships with their smartphones and other digital devices in today’s 24/7 connected world. Offering strategic consultancy services and in-room and virtual training programmes, they provide tailored support for businesses of all shapes and sizes.

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Suicide - a national crisis

It’s time to face a harsh truth - the UK is facing an urgent public health crisis. Suicide statistics are significantly on the rise and the need for mental health care has never been more critical. It has been widely reported that suicides have risen to a 16-year high across the UK as the Office for National Statistics releases disquieting data in its 2018 Suicide Report.

As the planning process for our November 25th event picks up speed, the need to improve mental health support and awareness in workplaces has become increasingly evident as highlighted by this new data. In response we’ve created a suicide session to help companies work on strategies to identify colleagues at risk and step in to offer help.

The session will be chaired by Neil Peters, Strategic Programme Manager at leading suicide prevention charity, the Samaritans and the panel will include David Hammond, Patent Attorney at law firm Haseltine Lake Kempner; Amandip Sidhu, Founder of Doctors in Distress and Graham McCartney, Trustee at the charity Jonathan’s Voice.

Media outlets have been reporting on the growing suicide crisis, informing us that after 5 years of decline, the rate of suicide in the UK has reached its highest point in 16 years. The Office for National Statistics report states that 6,507 suicides were registered in 2018 – a 12% rise from 2017 and the highest rate since 2002.

Although the report cannot expose exact reasons for this spike, experts have shared various opinions about the worrying figures including relationship breakdowns, work and school pressure and concerns about appearance in young people. NHS delays are also cited as a factor as many of those seeking help with their mental health are sitting on “hidden waiting lists” which can often lead to an 8 week wait to see a doctor again after an initial appointment.

Further distressing points highlighted in the report include:

  • Suicide rates in under 25s have increased
  • The greatest risk is among divorced men
  • 50% of people do not tell their doctor if they feel depressed

Samaritans Chief Executive Ruth Sutherland urged that suicide is “a serious public health issue” and is “not inevitable” and that connecting vulnerable people with mental health services must become a priority.

The government has pledged increased funding to pave the way for a transformation in mental health services. Employers must think outside the box to innovate and move forward with their mental health support for staff, ensuring that every employee is aware of available support and has someone to turn to when they are struggling.

Every suicide is a tragedy and we must continue promoting recognition of the issue alongside mental health awareness in order to combat the rise of these preventable deaths. With our This Can Happen suicide session we’ll be opening the floor to ideas and implementation strategies from expert speakers  aimed at educating employers on how to ensure every measure is taken in workplaces to decrease the risk of suicide among staff.

If you would like to join the discussion, book your place at This Can Happen 2019.

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Your first step to wellbeing at work – The YAMAS

Tracy Forsyth is an Executive Coach, Creator of ‘Yoga in the Boardroom’ workshop and Wellbeing Columnist for TBI Vision. In addition, she is Creative Mentor for the Channel 4 Growth Fund advising production companies on growth strategy and the Women in Film & TV Mentoring Scheme Producer for mid-career women. She is a professionally certified Co-Active Executive Coach working with high potential talent in leadership positions and a qualified 200hr Yoga Teacher.

She spoke to This Can Happen about the benefits of yoga in the workplace.

Follow Tracy - website, YouTube

 

When you see the word yoga, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Is it people in leggings striking poses on a mat? Beaches in Goa and vegetarian food? Chanting, incense and beaded bracelets?

Well, yes, yoga can include all those things, but it is so much more. 

In terms of mental and physical well-being, yoga also has a place right in the heart of corporate life. The good news is that there are so many beneficial ways you can bring yoga off the mat or beach and right into your everyday working culture. All without having to wear leggings.

When the ancient sage Pantajali pulled together all the learnings and thoughts about the philosophy and meaning of a yogic way of life in the Yoga Sutras, he outlined an eight-limbed, step-by-step path for steadying and calming the mind. ‘Yogas citta vrittis nirodha’ he wrote, meaning:  ‘Yoga is the cessation of the mindstuff’. In other words, yoga is a practice that helps you de-stress and find peace when the world is whirring around you.

The Yamas

The very first step on that Eight Limb path (even before you get to practicing any kind of poses) is to observe the Yamas:  a set of 5 ethical principles which guide you in how you relate to and treat other people.  Here’s how they relate to our wellbeing at work:

Ahimsa (Kindness)

The first and most important of the Yamas is Ahimsa, traditionally interpreted to mean non-violence or non-harming. It’s why many yogis are pacifists and lead a vegetarian life.

So how is this relevant in our working lives? Well, Ahimsa is also interpreted to mean kindness. With regards others, you can see how treating colleagues with kindness, not getting angry, not being short-tempered or abrupt and being respectful is generally a good idea. 

But Ahimsa also means kindness to oneself and this is so important to our wellbeing. We are often our own worst enemies, beating ourselves up when we make a mistake, putting ourselves down, obsessing over the one thing that went wrong instead of celebrating all the things that went right. 

To practice Ahimsa at work, accept compliments and praise graciously. Let it sink in and allow yourself to deserve it. Forgive yourself if you make a mistake or say the wrong thing. Concentrate on what there is to celebrate about your achievements rather than looking for the negatives. Try saying something kind to yourself every day.

Satya (Truthfulness)

The second Yama is Satya, translated as Truthfulness. Everyone knows it feels good to get things off your chest, say what you mean, be open and honest about what you think but it’s not always easy in a work environment. Office politics and the view of your boss might make you hesitant or fearful. Many of us know that feeling of being in a meeting or conference where you can’t quite get the courage to speak out or speak up because you are going against the grain. 

But bottling things up can damage our wellbeing. If you think about it, when we are upset, we often get a lump in our throat – a physical manifestation of the pain of not being able to express emotions.  Continually supressing the truths we believe in is like building a dam with uncomfortable pressure behind it.

What may be helpful is to practice Satya with Ahimsa so speak your truth but remember to be kind. This means not being so truthful that it could hurt but using diplomacy to soften the blow. And remember the old saying ‘To Thine Own Self Be True’. Honour your truth and find a way to express it.

Asteya (Non-Stealing)

The third Yama, Asteya, is translated as non-stealing. In a work context this is not really about pilfering from the stationery cupboard or claiming false expenses although it’s definitely not yogic do to either of those things! 

Asteya can mean anything from not taking credit for someone else’s work or being generous in praise of colleagues (not stealing their thunder). Shining a light on someone else’s work can seem counter-intuitive if you are worried about your own advancement in a company but it’s also a great leadership quality to be seen to enable, encourage and celebrate other’s achievements.

Asteya can also mean not being obsessive about presenteeism and stealing your own or your colleagues’ time for the sake of seeming keen. Obviously, there are times when everyone has to pull together and work into the early hours but there’s a difference between that and being fastidious about desk-attendance for the sake of it.

Ask yourself, in what way do I take from others and myself rather than give. Simply by not-taking you will increase wellbeing.

Brahmacharya (Celibacy or, in modern times, the right use of energy)

The fourth Yama, Brahmacharya, has traditionally meant Celibacy and it was a guide for yogis to conserve their sexual energy and redirect it towards the yogic path. Nowadays, it’s interpreted as ‘using energy in the right way’.

In the modern working world, we use so much energy worrying and fretting about work, what may happen and what ifs. Or we spend energy on trying to live up to an ideal image of the perfect employee or trying to be like someone else. Energy is spent on matters that are counter to our mental and physical wellbeing, for example working through lunchtime eating a sandwich whilst answering emails instead of heading outside for a walk; being glued to our smartphones when we are at home instead of being with loved ones; dialling in from holiday to that all important conference call. All seemingly commendable but not terribly conducive to overall wellbeing. 

In order to practice Brahmacharya, we need to put our health and wellbeing first and foremost, listen to and cherish our needs, give ourselves the best chance of success in terms of our minds and physical selves. 

Aparigraha (Non-Greed)

The final Yama, Aparigraha, is interpreted as non-greed or non-attachment. Many yogis interpret it as only to have what you actually need. That is, don’t have loads of possessions and consume excessively.

Aparigraha is also about wanting something or that isn’t ours. In the Biblical sense, it is coveting something or someone else. Which leads to no good thing!

In a work sense, Aparigraha is useful if you feel jealous of someone else or another team or compare yourself to others and find yourself lacking. It’s human nature to compare ourselves to others if someone else is praised, gets a promotion, gets an amazing new job and find ourselves wanting. 

In this age of social media, seeing visions of other people’s best lives can provoke feelings of envy and dissatisfaction with our own lives.

But remember, for every person you look at and envy and for every success someone else has that you don’t have, there are doubtless people looking at you thinking the same thing. Aparigraha is about appreciating the things you do have rather than letting the green-eyed monster out, it’s about being grateful for the bounties and blessings you do have and realising they are more than enough. 

Find something you are grateful for every single day.

Tracy Forsyth

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Brian Dow talks workplace mental health

Chief Executive, Mental Health UK & Deputy Chief Executive, Rethink Mental Illness has teamed up with This Can Happen to bring workplace mental health into the spotlight. Brian Dow spoke to us about the ever-evolving sphere of mental health.

Q. How widespread are mental health challenges in workplaces across the UK?
A. We all have mental health, just as we have physical health, so it’s fair to say that every workplace could experience mental health challenges. It’s estimated that at any one time, 1 in 6 people will be experiencing some of the symptoms of a mental health problem, such as sleep problems, stress or fatigue. A further 1 in 6 will be experiencing a ‘diagnosable’ mental health problem, the most common being depression or anxiety. But this could be an underestimation – in reality, many people might not talk about it enough for the statistics to be accurate.

In every sector, employers need to take positive steps to help support employee mental health. It’s our duty as employers to create an environment in which a mental health problem will be met openly, and appropriate adjustments made, just as you would expect with a physical illness.   

A report in 2017 about the cost of poor mental health at work showed that the total cost to the UK economy is between £33-£42 billion. This equates to £1,205-£1,560 per employee per year, whether they are unwell or not. I think these figures really show the impact of mental health on business. It should make bosses sit up and listen.

Q. What kind of issues are creating challenges for people at work?
A. Many people feel worried about speaking out about their mental health. We often hear from people who say that they would feel more comfortable saying they’re off sick than saying they’re experiencing mental health problems. There’s the fear that your employer will treat you differently, or that you’ll be met with stigma. That fear comes from not having an open culture in place.

There are so many reasons why employees could develop mental health problems at work, but away from the workplace there’s also an expectation to juggle work with relationships, family, money, and whatever life throws at us. It’s a lot for anyone to handle.

Q. How have you championed change across corporate Britain in your role as Chief Executive of Mental Health UK?
A. At Mental Health UK we’re proud to offer incredible training courses to businesses, as well as consultancy to help them see where they can make changes to better support their employees’ mental health.

Through our corporate partnerships we’ve been able to shift the culture of their workplaces to open the discussion about mental health and make it a better place for people to be. An example I’m most proud of is our work with Lloyd's Banking Group. We’re now in our third year of partnership, and to date over 33,000 colleagues have taken part in e-learning modules about mental health. We’re also training over 2,500 colleagues to become Mental Health Advocates by 2020.

Q. Mental Health UK is a coalition of four charities across the UK. Could you tell us about these charities and how they came together?
A. Once upon a time we were all one charity, The National Schizophrenia Fellowship. Eventually we split off into four charities across the four nations of the UK; Rethink Mental Illness in England, Hafal in Wales, Support in Mind Scotland, and MindWise in Northern Ireland. In 2016 we decided to work together again as Mental Health UK. Each charity is an expert in their own nation, but by working together as Mental Health UK we are an even stronger team and can support even more people experiencing mental health problems with a UK-wide presence.

Q. Do you perceive that mental health in the workplace has become a more prominent issue in recent times?
A. The issue has always been there, but as mental health is becoming more normal to talk about in our daily lives it naturally raises the issue of mental health in the workplace. We simply must make adjustments for people who are experiencing mental health problems in the same way we would for someone with a physical illness or impairment.

Q. Are we getting closer to resolving workplace mental health issues in the UK or do we still have a long way to go?
A. We’re making headway, but there’s still a long way to go. There are a few simple things all companies could do to help their employees, such as:

  • Offer employees information about stress management techniques, for example making sure they take their lunch break.
  • Ensure managers are aware of employees who have been off work due to mental health problems and make adjustments for them.
  • Make individual and organisational-level interventions: Make mental health an open conversation at work so that everyone feels more confident discussing the subject.

Q. Why are you a partner of This Can Happen?
A. We’re really be proud to be partnering with This Can Happen again in 2019. It’s an exciting opportunity for us to talk with both large and small organisations about how they can better understand and support mental health in the workplace.

What’s unique about the event is that it’s not all talk; This Can Happen exists to give immediate and practical solutions to help attendees at work. The agenda covers a range of topics - from life transitions and work, grief, and internal comms - which are relevant to all employers. Everyone can learn something from the event and translate it into positive action in their workplace.

 

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This Can Happen Awards – What do they mean to you?

This Can Happen was established to recognise the work of organisations leading the way in caring for the mental wellbeing of their workforce. The team has worked towards taking this recognition to the next level with This Can Happen 2019’s awards. We spoke to some of our valued speakers, panellists and delegates about their thoughts on this new initiative.

Here are their insightful comments.

Dawn Moore, Morgan Sindall

Please tell us what excites you about the TCH Awards.

“Having been a speaker at last year's high-profile and unique This Can Happen conference, we are proud to be associated for a second year via the first This Can Happen Awards. As a Mind Gold accredited employer, supporting mental health is of particular importance to us and it is a privilege to be involved in recognising and rewarding the contribution that individuals and teams are making to raising the awareness of good mental health in the workplace.”

What are you hoping to see in the entries?

“I am hoping to see an inspirational mix of entries from a diverse range of sectors. I'll be particularly looking for innovative ideas which really take this important agenda to the next level - so whether it’s an industry first or a development which shows real passion - entries which move us forward in championing mental health will get my vote.”

Toni Graves of Allen & Overy

Please tell us what excites you about the TCH Awards.

“I went to the first TCH event last year and was blown away at the quality of the sessions and the number of attendees. I believe that TCH will really open up the dialogue around mental health in the workplace and the awards will encourage employers to make this a priority as well as recognising those acting as catalysts for change.”

What are you hoping to see in the entries?

“Initiatives that have had a lasting impact – wellbeing weeks and days are great as is resilience training but it’s very difficult to change people’s behaviour and attitudes long term. Also any attempt at measuring impact and ROI would be very interesting.”

Barbara Harvey of Accenture

Please tell us what excites you about the TCH Awards.

“Awards are a brilliant way to share best practice, to inspire others and to recognise the outstanding achievements of organisations and individuals. They act as a beacon for others to aim for and for everyone to learn from.”

What are you hoping to see in the entries?

“Personally I'm looking for new ideas that address the prevention and management of mental health challenges in a practical way. Initiatives must be sustainable over time (simple is often better), their impact should be measurable and measured and I'm looking to understand who they are targeted at and how they are adapted to the individuals' needs. I love to see initiatives that are designed with (not just for) those who will benefit from them.”

Is your organisation caring for the mental health of staff in new ways? Why not enter the TCH awards? Find out more here.

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How to enter - Webinar

Have you still got any questions left? Then email us on awards@tchevents.com

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This Can Happen - How to enter Webinar

Our webinar teaches you tips and tricks on how to best enter our awards.

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This Can Happen Awards – Introducing the Judges!

Nici Matlow is Director of HR at Swizzels Matlow. Swizzels Matlow is a Derbyshire-based confectionery manufacturer and one of the UK’s best-loved sweetie brands. Nici talks to us about This Can Happen Awards, what they mean to her company and to the wider UK workforce.

Nici leads the HR Department and serves as Board Director. She oversees the strategic development of company objectives and values and is proud of the ambitious culture which has been fostered at Swizzels Matlow, which is one of inclusivity. Nici ensures that staff are trained at the highest standard of best practice. We are honoured to welcome Nici as a judge for the This Can Happen Awards.

Team This Can Happen was looking for an innovative way to celebrate and recognise companies and individuals who have shown excellence in their approach towards supporting mental health in their workplaces. The awards were launched to celebrate the best examples of workplaces and individuals championing and supporting mental health. The awards are open to all types of workplaces across all sectors.

TCH: “As one of the first judges to sign up to sit on the panel at the inaugural This Can Happen Awards, please can you tell us why the awards are important, what you’re looking for and how you will judge each entry? And do you have any advice for anyone considering entering an award?”

Nici: “It is really important to recognise achievement in an area of work that has, until recent times, been a taboo subject.  It is one thing to talk about change but another to act on it. I will be looking for organisations that have moved from a position of little or no mental health awareness or support offered  to embracing and embedding new policies and practices. The judges will be impressed by entries that demonstrate that a shift in culture has been achieved due to endorsement and involvement from the top. I encourage any employer or individual who’s had innovative ideas which promote a supportive and inclusive environment for employee wellbeing to enter the awards.”

Entries are welcome from June 4th 2019 until September 12th and the winners will be announced at an awards evening in Central London on Thursday 21st November 2019.

If you have any questions or would like to contact the team please email awards@tchevents.com.


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This Can Happen crowned Best New Conference Launch 2019!

It was a glorious Friday 5th of July in the grounds of Tower Bridge–one of London’s most spectacular historical settings. The sun was shining, heightening our excitement and anticipation for the Conference Awards 2019. The crowning of the UK’s best conferences over the past year was about to happen.

Overjoyed and a bit nervous, team This Can Happen was reflecting on how we’d achieved so much in such a short time. Could it really be that a mental health conference in its infancy was enjoying the spotlight amongst well-established conference giants? Nominated in not one, not two, but THREE categories, This Can Happen was being recognised for its important impact in the growing movement to improve mental health across UK workplaces.

The Conference Awards are like the Oscars for the sector, with many big-name entries from huge industry conglomerates. For a first-time conference, to be shortlisted in three categories is a major achievement.

After much anticipation, the winners were announced. We were absolutely thrilled to be awarded Winner Best New Conference Launch (over 500 delegates), to take a silver medal for UK Conference of the Year (under 1500 delegates) and of course for our nomination in the Outstanding Conference Team category.

In the words of one of This Can Happen’s Founders, Archie Sinclair:

 “The category we are most proud of is Outstanding Conference Team. I truly believe that our unique set up and ability to deliver a brand-new event in a brand-new sector is nothing short of remarkable and it’s a huge tribute to all of you and your talent and expertise. Thank you for helping us achieve this.”

At This Can Happen we believe there is something very powerful about a mental health conference placing at the medal podium for a prestigious awards event. It tells an encouraging story of times that are changing, minds that are opening and stigma that’s breaking around this crucial topic that touches all of us. It highlights the critical conversations and incredible efforts taking place across UK workplaces to improve mental health support—including in the conference and events sector.

Winning a Conference Award means that TCH was endorsed by a respected panel of industry experts. We are honoured and overjoyed. Now let’s get back to work planning this year’s event. Watch this space!

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This Can Happen speaker Paul Feeney's proactive stance on mental health in the workplace

This Can Happen is dedicated to improving mental health in the workplace and we’re on a mission to find out what businesses around the UK are doing to achieve this. We put some questions to Quilter CEO and confirmed This Can Happen '19 speaker Paul Feeney about his company's exemplary commitment to employee wellbeing. Quilter is a leading provider of advice, investments and wealth management in the UK and internationally.

Q. Why is workplace mental health so important to you as a business leader and CEO?
A. Five years before Quilter was listed, we imagined what we could be in our organisation. We wanted to be a wealth manager for people who needed help. But that alone won’t set us apart. We also had to imagine who we want to be – and that comes down to creating the environment where our people can thrive – to allow them to be at their best and to fulfil their potential. 

This is very much about creating the right kind of open and supportive culture. So we created our Thrive initiative, which is about supporting and enhancing the wellbeing of our people. We want to help them to be healthy, in their physical, social, financial, emotional and mental wellbeing. We provide information, services and tools to employees to enhance their awareness and personal well-being and mental health. We also have a network of Thrive Ambassadors operating across the business.

It was important for me to lead this issue, not only because it is personal to me, but also to demonstrate to people that it is ok to have these conversations. For many years I wasn’t able to talk in certain organisations I’ve worked in about my own mental health issues. Not because I felt they were uncaring, I just felt they wouldn’t understand it.  I don’t want that in my own organization; I want us to really be a place where our people feel that it is a safe and supportive culture.

Q. What do you think are the big issues in workplace mental health?
A. I've been in the City now for 30 years and I believe mental health is the City’s last great taboo.

Across the City I believe that employees still fear if they talk about their mental health then their boss will think that they are somehow damaged goods. Some may even fear losing their job. The stigma around mental health in big business is symptomatic of a macho culture where ignorance and bias still exist and although it is changing to some degree, it has to change more quickly.

Mental health difficulties are often related to workload, work-related stress and can be the product of a success-at-all-costs philosophy. But a culture of cut-throat competitiveness that views burnout as a benchmark of dedication is unsustainable and unacceptable. 

A workplace culture that pressures employees to hide mental health issues is toxic and has potential to do enormous damage not just to those employees but to the business itself. I have been lucky to work in high performance teams, full of highly intelligent people. They are driven and competitive, but the best performing teams I’ve worked in have also been open and supportive.

Q. Why do you think some companies are still unsure about addressing mental health in their place of work?
A. Put simply – it’s difficult. Culture change is not easy and the tendency of business leaders not to talk about the issue of mental health is clear. So while we refer to this as the ‘soft’ aspect of business, it is in fact very hard.

However, I believe that for businesses to flourish you have to let people know that it is ok to not be ok, and that admitting you need support won’t be held against you.

Fortunately, we are starting to see the change in attitudes as campaigners have begun discussing mental health issues in a curative and non-stigmatising light. Events like This Can Happen and Mental Health Awareness Week play a significant role in a world that is increasingly opening up to mental health issues.

Q. What strengths have you seen in your organisation since having an open workplace culture?
A. The response we have had has been tremendous – I’ve had more feedback from people on this than anything else we have done before. Some of my most accomplished managers have come forward about the issues they're dealing with and we have seen numerous colleagues creating their own ‘This is me’ videos, talking openly about their own issues.

The conversations at our senior leader gatherings are becoming noticeably more open and that can only serve to ensure we are calling out any issues within the business and tackling them. We are a business that has grown quickly and we need our culture to support our employees to come together and collaborate. I want our culture to facilitate social interaction and open communication, and that is happening more and more.

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This Can Happen AEB member Lucie Cave talks about a pioneering workplace manifesto

Bauer Media Group has launched Where’s Your Head At? A manifesto calling for a working world where mental health is supported and where wellbeing is at the heart of everything a business does.

The ‘Where’s Your Head At?’ Workplace Manifesto

The manifesto was launched in June 2019 as part of Mental Health Awareness Week. It is a mission statement calling for a healthier working world - a world where people’s mental health is protected and where staff wellbeing is a priority for business leaders and managers.

The company is calling on all employers to sign the manifesto in support of the workplace wellbeing agenda, and encouraging organisations to follow up by taking concrete action to create a workplace where mental and physical health are treated equally. 

Bauer’s Lucie Cave is a member of This Can Happen’s Advisory Editorial Board and she spoke to us about the groundbreaking manifesto and what she hopes it will achieve.

Q. Your commitment to workplace wellbeing is exemplary as a business. Where did these positive actions come from?
A. At Bauer Media UK, we have always had the wellbeing and happiness of our employees as central to our culture and values. The focus has increased over the last few years due to the need for more openness and dialogue from a workplace point of view as well as our audience’s. We started running Thrive - a well-being program across the company last year as well as Belonging at Bauer – our commitment to delivering greater inclusivity and diversity of our workforce and in our products.

Our commitment to supporting the mental health of our audiences and our people with Where’s Your Head At? was born of these actions coupled with a passion to make real change. We wanted to take positive action as we know our audiences are not passive - they take action, they want to be involved and drive initiatives for good.

Q. ‘Where’s Your Head At?’ is a unique campaign. Can you tell me a bit about it?
A. This was the brainchild of myself and Mental Health campaigner Natasha Devon MBE. We decided to join forces to do something in the Mental Health sphere and after speaking to Mental Health First Aid England we realised there was a huge (and frankly ridiculous) disparity between the way physical health and mental health are treated in the workplace. So we combined the might of Bauer brands - including Heat, Grazia, KISS and Magic Radio - with the knowledge of MHFA England to create a campaign to encourage the government to make it a legal requirement to train Mental Health First Aiders in workplaces. Our petition attracted over 200k signatures and it is starting to be debated in parliament. Our manifesto takes this commitment even further, encouraging all businesses to sign up and pledge to give mental and physical health equal treatment at work. 

Q. The manifesto is a mission statement calling for a healthier working world. What actions would you hope to see as a result of companies adopting it?
A. As a minimum, we want to see companies ensuring they have Mental Health First Aiders in their business, and if they already have them then we would like to see an increase in numbers. Before we started the campaign Bauer had 7 and now we have opened it up to everyone in the business and have over 28 really passionate Mental Health activists. The manifesto offers solutions for improving and supporting Mental Health and wellbeing, but one of the most valuable tools is to look at what other businesses are doing and how they are leading the way (which is why This Can Happen is such a brilliant event!)

Q. For mental and physical health to be treated equally in workplaces, everyone has to be on board. How can we make this happen?
A. It needs to start from the top and be fed into the daily conversation across the whole company. Leaders must be open about their own Mental Health, talking openly about times in their life when they needed support. It has to start from within. The saying ‘you can’t pour from an empty cup’ is so true! Self-care must be part of how the whole team operates - even if it’s as small as taking a break for a walk, going to yoga at lunchtime, or not emailing late at night. These things show employees that their leaders care about work/life balance. They also need to know their teams inside out and have quality conversations that ensure that if something is wrong, it’s spotted and can be acted upon.

Q. Is the media sector ahead of the game when it comes to mental health or are other industries keeping up?
A. I think that while areas of media have done some great work around Mental Health awareness - sometimes it’s more outward facing than inward and more needs to be done within companies. But there are pockets of creative places doing amazing stuff. Channel 5/Viacom and 7 Stars have been founding supporters of our campaign and are doing amazing work in the Mental Health space for their workforce and in their products.

Q. What do you hope to achieve by being part of the Advisory Editorial Board for This Can Happen 2019?
A. I am so excited about being able to share the editorial knowledge I have of audiences, celebrities and their experience of Mental Health along with helping create and shape a diverse mix of initiatives for the event. There are loads of businesses and people doing great work so this is about shining a spotlight on them so others can learn from their success (and mistakes!)

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This Can Happen launches brand new workplace mental health awards

This Can Happen was the UK’s largest workplace mental health conference of 2018.  Its aim was to offer delegates practical, relatable solutions they could implement back into their workplaces through high level content. This included a session with HRH Prince William where he opened up for the first time about his struggles with mental health during his time as an RAF search and rescue pilot. This was so much more than a ‘celebrity appearance’ - it was a critical reminder that everyone and anyone can face mental health challenges at work. The impact of this session, and many others, equipped delegates with armloads of tried and tested strategies applicable to their own work environments. The success of the conference has inspired the team to launch a second event for 2019 – this time featuring the brand new This Can Happen Awards.

The inaugural This Can Happen Awards launched in May 2019 to recognise and celebrate organisations demonstrating excellence in mental health support for their employees.

We spoke to This Can Happen co-founder Zoe Sinclair about the inspiration for the awards and what the team hopes to achieve as a result of the initiative.

Q. Why did the TCH team decide to launch the awards?
A.
We were so inspired by the fact that the first This Can Happen event in 2018 attracted over 750 delegates from over 150 organisations and we were so honoured to welcome HRH the Duke of Cambridge to share his own struggles. Since the big day we have been searching for the next step to continue to support employers on their workplace mental health journeys. We tried to find a way of publically recognising and rewarding those companies who were successfully implementing positive change as a direct result of This Can Happen’s impactful content. And the awards were born.

Q. What do you hope to achieve with the awards?
A.
We hope that public recognition will not only encourage  more business leaders to think innovatively about the mental health of their staff and to treat it as a priority but that the strategies put in place by winning organisations will be used as a benchmark for the actions of others.

Q. Why is it important to recognise success with workplace mental health programmes and strategies?
A. Of course the real reward is the sustained mental wellness of staff but there’s also a genuine pride that comes from public recognition of any achievement. It’s so important to showcase these successes to promote the practices of these exemplary companies to their peers, current and prospective staff and customers. Everyone should know the benefits gained not only for the workforce itself, but toward the companies’ bottom lines. They should know it is possible for this to be the future of work, so that others will follow.

Q. How will the awards be judged and by whom?
A. 30% of each award will pertain to strategy, 30% to execution and implementation and 40% to results and impact. Successful companies will demonstrate evidence of a supportive environment and employee inclusivity. They will be judged on the synergy between their mental health strategies and related policies and how this is impacting wider workplace culture. Importantly, they will also be judged on how successfully they actively involve  employees who have experienced mental health problems in driving ongoing strategy and support of mental health programmes, for example through staff-led champions networks or committees.

Judges will initially come up with individual shortlists and will select the winners together. The judging panel will consist of a diverse range of senior business leaders with reputations for championing excellence in workplace mental health.

Judges - confirmed so far:

  • Shefali Gera EMEA Head of Wellness, Goldman Sachs
  • Miles Kean Executive Director, Entrepreneurs Division, Coutts & Co
  • Ché Donald National Vice Chair, Police Federation of England and Wales
  • James Tugendhat MD, International, Bright Horizons Family Solutions
  • Susan Gee Group Occupational Health & Wellbeing Manager, Yorkshire Water 
  • Katie Legg Director, Strategy and Partnerships, Mental Health UK
  • Monika Misra Head of Employee Health and Wellbeing, Europe, GlaxoSmithKline
  • Nici Matlow Director, HR, Swizzels Matlow
  • Dr. Arne Hugo Global Head of Employee Health and Wellbeing, GlaxoSmithKline

Q. Are the awards sector specific?
A.
Absolutely not. We encourage all companies of every size, from every country and in every sector to enter. The awards are open to any workplace or individual who champions mental health.

Q. What are the categories?
A.
The categories recognise the various aspects of delivering a successful workplace mental health strategy and include:

  • Best Mental Health in the Workplace Strategy: Large Company
  • Best Mental Health in the Workplace Strategy: SME
  • Best New Workplace Approach to Mental Health
  • HR / Wellbeing Team of the Year
  • Employee Network of the Year
  • Most Innovative Idea to improve Mental Health
  • Mental Health Campaign of the Year
  • ​Best Targeted Mental Health Initiative

Individual Recognitions

  • Most Inspiring Leader of the Year
  • Most Inspiring Employee of the Year
  • This Can Happen Future Leader Award

Recognition for Excellence and Outstanding Engagement

These categories are non-entering, and the winners will be chosen by the judges and This Can Happen founders.

  • This Can Happen Grand Prix Winner 2019

The judges will award this to the most outstanding award entry.

  • ​Founder’s Choice Award: Outstanding Service to Mental Health

This discretionary award is given by the This Can Happen founders to an individual or organisation deserving of recognition for their work in promoting excellence in mental health.

Don’t miss these key dates:

  • Entries open - 4 June 2019
  • Deadline for Entries - 12 September 2019
  • Shortlist Announcement - 29 October 2019
  • Awards Evening & Winners Announcement - Thursday 21 November 2019
  • Winners Announcement online - 22 November 2019
  • Shortlisted entries and winners will be publicised in the book of the night and the This Can Happen Awards eBook.

For all TCH awards queries please see our website or contact the team on awards@tchevents.com.

We look forward to receiving your entries – good luck!

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Withers & Rogers on the impact of This Can Happen

Q&A with Karen and Adam who attended TCH ’18. What did they learn and how have things changed in their workplace?

Karen Greville-Woods and Adam Hirst are from the Sheffield office of Withers & Rogers, one of the largest IP law firms in Europe. They spoke to us about their experiences of mental health in the workplace and how This Can Happen has helped them create meaningful changes for their colleagues and the business as a whole.

Q. What attracted you to This Can Happen last year?
A.
The topic of mental health is close to our hearts. People have always faced challenges in the legal profession, it can be a stressful work environment and our colleagues have shared their own experiences of this. We thought it would be really valuable to see what advice is out there and to hear about the steps that other companies and sectors are taking to address this critical issue.

It’s an area that we are exploring, but we are keen do more. We were starting to challenge the way we work as a company and continue to improve the policies and strategies we have in place. The owners and managers of Withers & Rogers are fully supportive of  our colleagues looking forward and of those who’d had mental health problems in the past.

Staff mental health was something that people were beginning to talk about especially after we heard of a charity called Jonathan’s Voice, which was set up in the name of a patent attorney who took his own life.

The leadership team at Withers & Rogers encouraged the creation of an IP inclusive working group which we are part of and staff wellbeing was put at the top of the agenda. We created wellbeing spaces in our offices and hold regular mental health initiatives.

It was a mission that ignited a passion – we had a fire in our bellies and were motivated to make change. When we heard about This Can Happen, we knew we had to be there and the leadership team supported our desire to drive change. The stats backed up why supporting the mental health of employees is so important and many other companies were signing up so we knew we had to be involved too. Mental health difficulties can also arise when we bring new young attorneys into the company. Young people come to expect great mental health support when they enter an industry that’s notoriously stressful. They have excellent support at University and they expect the same from their employers. It’s fantastic that the stigma is being broken but we must live up to their expectations and support them properly so that they can flourish.

Q. What were your highlights from This Can Happen ‘18?
A.
Key messages that we took from the day were be your whole self. Bring your whole self to work. Don’t hide your personal life and if things are tough, don’t just put your head down and hope that no one notices. That’s simply not the way to look after yourself.

One of the speakers said that looking after your staff is like keeping a constant fire burning and every now and again you have to let off a firework.

Karen said that she was moved to tears by the policeman who spoke of his mental health struggles and that his story really resonated and inspired her to encourage her colleagues to be more open about their struggles.

Adam particularly liked the idea of looking after your mental 'fitness' rather than mental 'health', in the same way that you take care of your physical fitness.

Q. What ideas or strategies did you implement as a result of TCH?
A. Since This Can Happen we have seen significant change in our workplace. We have trained Mental Health First Aiders in all of our offices across the UK. These roles existed previously but their responsibilities and proactivity have increased. We organise lunches and charity events, in fact anything to get people out of their seats and get them talking.

This Can Happen has helped provide momentum to the wellbeing journey that W&R was pursuing.

We were already members of an IP Inclusion group but now we’ve taken what we learnt at TCH to the group and into our offices and we’re feeling the ripple effect. There’s a working group meeting every quarter which effects strategies to create change in our Diversity and Inclusion policies amongst other areas. We have offices across the UK and two or three people from every office have volunteered to be part of the committee that oversees our D&I policy.

Through our involvement with IP Inclusive we organised for Graham McCartney, who set up the charity Jonathan’s Voice, to speak to our office as well as a series of other vital talks. Our revamped mental health vision has grown organically both locally and company-wide.  We’re challenging the idea that whilst the legal world is often stressful, it’s OK to ask for help. We’re opening up the conversation and saying that  it’s everyone’s responsibility to offer a helping hand if we think colleagues or employees are affected by stress.

Q. What were the results?
A.
People are beginning to talk and we’re all being more honest about our experiences. We are trying to normalise the idea that life is stressful and it’s OK to struggle. We want to encourage people to speak up and seek help.

We’ve noticed there’s much more honesty about why people are absent, for example people will say if the end of month has been  stressful. This honesty is really allowing us to change things and put support plans in place.

Q. What do you hope to gain at TCH 2019?
A
. Young people are the next generation of workers in our industry and beyond, and we really want to ensure that they are provided for in every way. If we want to nurture future leaders we have to make sure that we cater for their needs and look after them as they enter what is traditionally a very stressful industry.

James Gray, one of partners, has been invited to speak on one of the TCH ‘19 panels alongside Graham McCartney of Jonathan’s Voice, the charity set up by a father whose son took his own life as a result of the pressures of working as a patent attorney. We’d like to see more of the legal profession represented at TCH and we are pleased to have representation from one of the firm's leaders.

Q. Is the legal industry doing enough to tackle mental health?
A.
Not enough. It’s still widely accepted that some individuals find the profession stressful. We all know that the legal profession is very deadline-driven and the consequences of missing a deadline are serious and it’s just accepted that working hours can be very long. There is more to be done and this is our challenge.

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This Can Happen Awards Newsletter Reflector

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About Us

Our vision is to support organisations of all sizes, to empower workplace mental health.

Everything we do is solutions-led - we host an award winning annual 6 stream conference, run an awards programme, year round networking events plus this site is packed with useful resources for employers and employees to access for free.

Meet the Founders and team behind This Can Happen here.

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Our Judges

Our judges 

This Can Happen Awards entries will solely be assessed by our esteemed judges. In the first round judges will vote for their favourites and create a shortlist, and then will come together on a judging day to decide on the winners. Currently we are working hard on recruiting a stellar judging panel for the 2020 awards, consisting of senior leaders with diverse experience and skill sets, championing excellence in workplace mental health.

If you would like to nominate a mental health champion for the jury panel, please send their contact details and bio to awards@tchevents.com.

Our 2019 judging panel:

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Resources & Further Information

 

TERMS AND CONDITIONS

THIS CAN HAPPEN Delegate Booking Terms & Conditions

The below cancellation policy applies to all individual and group delegate ticket sales.

Payment & Access:

All conference ticket fees must be paid within 14 days of receipt of our invoice. Bookings made on or after 20 June must be paid on receipt of invoice. Payment of ticket will entitle the ticket holder to attend any conference sessions and any official scheduled networking sessions scheduled to take place throughout the day. Ticket holders are also provided with refreshments during the conference sessions and relevant conference documentation. This Can Happen Ltd, the organisers of THIS CAN HAPPEN, reserves the right to deny event access if the delegate fails to provide relevant proof of registration and payment. For wire transfers please use the following details:

 

Cancellation Policy:

In the case of group bookings, any reduction in the number of places booked may result in a reduction on the discount offered per delegate ticket. Any cancelled delegate tickets will therefore not be refunded at the booked group rate.

If purchasing an early bird delegation then there is no refund and the passes are not transferrable to another company

If purchasing a standard price delegation then 50% is refundable less a £75 administration fee per pass before close of business on 10 August.

From 11 August  the passes are non-refundable.

 

Non Attendance:

If a delegate fails to attend the conference for whatever reason, no refund will be given. However, a substitute delegate may attend the conference in the client’s place at no extra cost given 1) the client has made the request in writing 2) THIS CAN HAPPEN have received and acknowledged relevant proof of the requested changes.

 

Group Discounts:

Delegates booked as part of a negotiated group booking will not benefit from any other discounts available at the point in time of booking or thereafter.

 

Re-selling:

In the case of group bookings, it is not permissible to re-sell any individual delegate tickets. THIS CAN HAPPEN reserves the right to refuse admission to any delegates suspected of purchasing delegate tickets on resale.

 

THIS CAN HAPPEN, as organisers and owners of THIS CAN HAPPEN Event, reserves the right to make alterations to the event programme content.

 

Please note: where circumstances force THIS CAN HAPPEN to cancel the conference, the entire liability of THIS CAN HAPPEN shall be limited to a refund of conference ticket fees only. Your only remedy is for a refund as set out above, and to the extent permissible by law, THIS CAN HAPPEN excludes all other liability to you, whether in contract, tort or otherwise.

 

Subject to change.

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Terms & Conditions

The below cancellation policy applies to all individual and group delegate ticket sales.

Payment & Access:
All conference ticket fees must be paid within 14 days of receipt of our invoice. Bookings made on or after 20 June must be paid on receipt of invoice. Payment of ticket will entitle the ticket holder to attend any conference sessions and any official scheduled networking sessions scheduled to take place throughout the day. Ticket holders are also provided with refreshments during the conference sessions and relevant conference documentation. This Can Happen Ltd, the organisers of This Can Happen, reserves the right to deny event access if the delegate fails to provide relevant proof of registration and payment. For wire transfers please use the following details:

Cancellation Policy:
In the case of group bookings, any reduction in the number of places booked may result in a reduction on the discount offered per delegate ticket. Any cancelled delegate tickets will therefore not be refunded at the booked group rate.

If purchasing an early bird delegation then there is no refund and the passes are not transferrable to another company

If purchasing a standard price delegation then 50% is refundable less a £75 administration fee per pass before close of business on 10 August.

From 11 August  the passes are non-refundable.

Non Attendance:
If a delegate fails to attend the conference for whatever reason, no refund will be given. However, a substitute delegate may attend the conference in the client’s place at no extra cost given 1) the client has made the request in writing 2) This Can Happen have received and acknowledged relevant proof of the requested changes.

Group Discounts:
Delegates booked as part of a negotiated group booking will not benefit from any other discounts available at the point in time of booking or thereafter.

Re-selling:
In the case of group bookings, it is not permissible to re-sell any individual delegate tickets. This Can Happen reserves the right to refuse admission to any delegates suspected of purchasing delegate tickets on resale.

This Can Happen, as organisers and owners of This Can Happen Events, reserve the right to make alterations to the event programme content.

Please note: where circumstances force This Can Happen to cancel the conference, the entire liability of This Can Happen shall be limited to a refund of conference ticket fees only. Your only remedy is for a refund as set out above, and to the extent permissible by law, This Can Happen excludes all other liability to you, whether in contract, tort or otherwise.

Subject to change.

 

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The entry site will open on 4 June. Please complete the enquiry form below and you will be notified when the entry site is open

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Awards Reception

Awards Reception

The awards were presented at an evening reception taking place at a central London location on Thursday 21st November 2019.

 

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Award Categories

All you need to know about the 2020 This Can Happen Award categories

This Can Happen Awards are open to all workplaces and individuals who champion mental health. The awards celebrate and recognise workplaces and individuals who have shown excellence in their approach towards positive mental health for their employees and colleagues. The Awards are open for submissions from all types of workplaces, whether large or small, not-for-profit, every type of industry and from any country.

We want entries that outline successful strategies and campaigns that have been implemented, which show workplaces can drive positive solutions and outcomes. 

There is no restriction as to how many categories you can enter, as long as the categories are relevant to the entry. The This Can Happen Awards 2020 categories have been developed in cooperation with our charity partner Mental Health UK, and we have 2 new categories for this year.

If you are unsure of which category is right for your company please do get in touch, and we can assist you with recommendations.

Request category recommendation

Download all categories

Workplace Recognitions

These categories recognise the various aspects of delivering a successful workplace mental health strategy.

Entries will be judged based on their strategy, execution & implementation, and results & impact. Additionally judges will be looking for evidence of a supportive environment in each workplace, along with consideration of areas such as employee inclusivity, the interaction between their strategy and wider culture of the workplace and its policies to promote active involvement of employees with experience of poor mental health in all decisions affecting them. 

1. Best Mental Health in the Workplace Strategy: Large Company

Category description

This award recognises workplaces with over 750 employees who have implemented an exceptional strategy to strengthen mental health in the workplace. Entries should consider:

- how strategies are implemented from top to bottom,

- successfully breaking stigma around mental health with executive buy-in and resulting in company-wide cultural change

- delivery of measurable improvement and success

Entrants should also demonstrate an inclusive, preventive and supportive approach to mental health and wellbeing. This could showcase how considerations around mental health are reflected in a strategic approach ands wider policies and systems that flex to the needs of all employees, for example, recognising that good mental health cannot be taken for granted by encouraging reasonable adjustments and flexible working.

2. Best Mental Health in the Workplace Strategy: SME

Category description

This award recognises workplaces with less than 750 employees who have implemented an exceptional strategy to strengthen mental health in the workplace. Entries should consider:

- how strategies are implemented at all employee levels,

- successfully breaking stigma around mental health with senior buy-in and resulting in company-wide cultural change

- delivery of measurable improvement and success

Entrants can demonstrate how a smaller organisation which may not have in-house wellbeing expertise has used outside resources successfully to integrating mental health into wider wellbeing strategies.

3. Best New Workplace Approach to Mental Health

Category description

This award will be given to a workplace that has recently recognised explicitly the importance of addressing mental health in the workplace and within the past 12 months has taken first steps to change the culture at the workplace via a holistic and focussed approach to maintaining and improving the mental health of all employees.

Due to limited time for benefits to emerge for companies at this stage of their mental health journey, judges will not solely focus on outcomes but will consider the impetus and process behind the initiative and the action plan to deliver it.

4.​ HR / Wellbeing Team of the Year

Category description

This award is aimed at motivating and celebrating those teams - including project teams - who have a positive impact across their workplace. Whether large or small, the team - which could represent HR, Wellbeing and/or Inclusion & Diversity functions - should demonstrate that they have been crucial in driving the implementation of mental health initiatives and strategies and delivering measurable results for their workplace.

5.​ Employee Network of the Year

Category description

Many workplaces have established peer networks in their workplace to support fellow colleagues and drive change. These include mental health first aiders, ambassadors, champions or advocates who commit to supporting colleagues in addition to their day job. This category looks to identify networks that can demonstrate how they have been instrumental in supporting colleagues in the workplace and give examples of how their network has been a success.

6.​ Mental Health Campaign of the Year

Category description

While implementing mental health strategies and policies can be a tough task in itself, communicating those strategies is even more important to ensure employees and other external stakeholders - such as customers, contractors and suppliers - know about it. This category looks for the best internal or external mental health communications campaign. This could include areas such as the importance of not taking good mental health for granted and/or the need to have positive conversations about mental health in the workplace.

7. ​Best Targeted Mental Health Initiative

Category description

This category celebrates mental health campaigns that workforces have implemented for either (a) a specific group of employees (b) a specialist initiative to solve a particular workplace challenge for example addressing Men and Mental Health, Addiction at Work, Menopause in the workplace, stress in the workplace. Entries should clearly outline the target group or issue addressed and demonstrate how the initiative reached and improved the situation for the target group or solved the challenge.

NEW 8. Product Impact Award

Category description

This category recognises the impact of a product that assists organisations with their workplace mental health programmes. Products can include but are not limited to physical products, courses and technological products such as apps. Entries should be submitted in the form of 2 case studies and demonstrate how the product is supporting mental health in client organisation(s), including the results and impact it achieved. Approved client testimonials will be required for this category.

NEW 9. Mental Health Consultancy Award

Category description

This category recognises consultants, trainers or agencies who can demonstrate that their work with their client(s) has delivered a successful and implementable strategy. This category is looking for the outstanding mental health consultancies, trainers and agencies that help develop and implement mental health strategies together with their clients. This category looks for best in class work that clearly demonstrates how their work has led to breaking down the stigma around mental health. Judges will be looking for tailored strategies, evidence-based action plans and the delivery of measurable improvement and success.
Entries should be submitted in the form of 2 case studies and client testimonials will be required for this category.

Individual Recognitions

These categories recognise individuals and their contribution to breaking the stigma around mental health at their workplaces.

Nominees will be judged based on their engagement, strategy and achievements.

10. ​Most Inspiring Leader of the Year

Category description

Nominated by their company, this category recognises those leaders who have truly led from the front to banish stigma around mental health and who have actively campaigned within their organisation to ensure colleagues are appropriately supported by their employer.

11. ​Most Inspiring Employee of the Year

Category description

Nominated by their company, this category recognises employees who have inspired their workplace by breaking stigma around mental health as well as growing awareness of how a workplace can focusses on positive mental health to help their staff to development.

12.​ This Can Happen Future Leader Award

Category description

Nominated by their company, this award recognises a young future leader who has already made an impact on mental health in their workplace and is paving the way for a better workplace of the future.

Recognition for Excellence and Outstanding Engagement (non-entering)

These categories are non-entering, and the winners will be chosen by the judges’ panel and the founders of This Can Happen.

13.​ This Can Happen Grand Prix Winner 2020

This award is given to the most outstanding award entry, chosen by the panel of esteemed judges.

14. ​Founder’s Choice Award: Outstanding Service to Mental Health

This discretionary award is given to an individual or organisation who the Founders of This Can Happen feel deserves the recognition for their work in promoting excellence in mental health.

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How to Enter

Key Dates

Entries open: 20 January 2020

Deadline for Entries: 5 March 2020

Shortlist Announcement: 14 April 2020

Awards Evening & Winners Announcement: week commencing 8th June 2020

Winners Announcement online: week commencing 8th June 2020

Shortlisted entries and winners will be publicised in This Can Happen Awards Book 2020.

Submission Process

1. Select your categories to enter.

2. Read our T&Cs and entry guidelines.

3. Watch our webinar for tips & tricks on how to enter.

4. Register on our entry site and complete your submission online.

5. Submit and pay for your entries.

Entries submitted and paid for on or before the deadline of 5 March 2020 will cost £99 (per entry). SBL Ideas Ltd. reserves the right to extend the deadline should there be demand. For UK participants only, VAT will be applied.

Ready to enter?

Enter now

Still got questions? Get in touch with the team for more information.

Would you like to be amongst the first to know when entries open and deadlines are approaching? Then sign up to our newsletter now. 

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Flexible Content

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Simon Linares of Direct Line Group on mental health solutions in his workplace

Simon Linares of Direct Line Group speaks to This Can Happen again, this time to tell us about his highlights from the 2018 event and what he’s most looking forward to this year.

Q. What were your highlights and what has compelled you to return to TCH 19?

A. For me the highlight of the 2018 event was the huge number of organisations, all in one place, trying to understand the issues surrounding mental health and how to help people in the workplace. This year we’re looking forward to more inspiration and more ideas on how to address mental health in the workplace.

Q. What is Direct Line Group’s mental health strategy and how did that change after This Can Happen 18?

A. The strategy at Direct Line Group is to ensure that everyone can have open and honest conversations about who they are, which embraces one of our organisation’s key values, ‘bring all of yourself to work’.

We want our people to perform at their best, but in order to do this they need to feel fully engaged and be part of an inclusive, open environment where they can be themselves.

They need to be comfortable having open and honest conversations about their mental health. When we achieve this we will know that our colleagues can have open and honest conversations about everything else.

The This Can Happen conference was a great opportunity to see what others were doing in this area. It also reinforced how important it is to stay focussed on keeping mental health on top of the agenda.

The breadth of companies at the event reminded us how big and important an issue this is for everyone and the practical ideas that were shared really helped inform the next phase of our agenda.

We’ve previously worked with Johnny and Neil and also recently formed a partnership with  Mind charity in England (and their partner charity in Scotland, the Scottish Association for Mental Health). Last year we  trained over 130 mental health first aiders, so that we could have at least one mental health first aider on every floor of every building. Mental health has been on our agenda for a couple of years, but the This Can Happen conference definitely helped shape our thinking for the future.

Q. How have your colleagues responded to these changes?

A. It’s been very positive. It very quickly become apparent that everybody has a story or knows somebody who is affected by mental health and who can be better supported or helped by others.

We also had an overwhelming response to our Mental Health First Aid training programme which really demonstrates how important this matter is for our people. We continue to encourage people to celebrate who they are using #ThisisMe and have had some great engagement on our internal communications channels, such as Yammer.

Q. Direct Line Group implemented innovative solutions to support mental health at work some time ago. What was the inspiration for this strategy when it began?

A. Being at a Dive-In Fest event (a festival for diversity and inclusion in insurance) with Johnny and Neil the year before made us realise how important it was to address mental health within our company. It became very obvious that everyone at the session was affected in some way and there was a definite need to address this subject and bring about positive change.

Q. Do you feel that UK businesses are aware of mental health issues on the whole?

A. Awareness is growing and a lot of progress has been made, but there is still a lot more to do before it becomes normal to speak out confidently. The more we can encourage open conversations, the more natural it will be for people to talk about this with each other.

Q. Do you believe that celebrity or royal endorsement of mental health as a critical issue has improved visibility of the topic?

A. Definitely. The more key influencers and roles models can share their experiences or show they are not embarrassed to speak out, more progress will be made, and less of a stigma will be associated with the issue. These are people who inspire others so it will definitely improve mental health awareness.  

Q. There’s a vast gap between awareness and action. How can we continue to work towards bridging this gap?

A. Sharing ideas and focussing on what you can do even if you can’t do everything right now. We need to keep helping everyone and every company to make progress over the next year.

Q. What are you expecting from This Can Happen 2019?

A. I’m expecting another great event that will build on the fantastic energy of last year. I am hoping to learn and hear more useful ideas that we can take back and implement. Also really looking forward to meeting even more participants and hearing about what they are doing in their companies.

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Industry insights - Q&A with Dr. Emma Loveridge

Dr. Emma Loveridge is a counsellor and psychotherapist and Director of Rafan House, a therapeutic clinic in London. She is a member of This Can Happen Advisory Editorial Board and shared her thoughts on promoting mental health and the best ways of engaging with organisations in the future.

Q. You have worked in the field of mental health for 25 years, what changes have you seen since  you started out?

A. The stigma around mental health has dramatically changed in the last 25 years, and certainly for the better. The understanding that every person has a sophisticated part of their mind that can impact home, work, future relationships in a healthy or unhealthy way is much better understood professionally and in the public domain. When it comes to treatment, psychotherapeutic intervention is used less than behavioural approaches (like CBT) which have had political ascendancy and this needs addressing urgently so there is breadth of provision available to people in the health services. I am also greatly encouraged by the increasing ease at which mental health is being accepted as equal to physical health in terms of overall wellbeing – especially in the corporate sector. With greater acceptance of mental health concerns come greater chances of diagnosis, treatment and recovery for many people. 

Q. Are workplaces doing enough to address the mental health of staff in the UK?

A. Yes, they are starting to address mental health and most importantly employers are seeking to understand wellbeing and take preventative approaches to help people better manage work life imbalances or what psychologists have recognised as emotional flu. However, there is still work to be done. Statistically, there remains a high percentage of workplace-related illnesses, absenteeism and presenteeism, which costs British companies billions each year. The growing realisation that the price of workplace mental health issues is too great to bear has galvanized the need among British businesses to tackle this issue as a matter of priority.   

Q. How does organisational complexity impact the wellbeing of staff and how could this be addressed in the corporate world?

A. Due to siloed departments within an organisation, many people might not feel empowered to seek help, or know exactly to whom to turn. Addressing mental health concerns with a direct manager comes with a perceived amount of risk, i.e. would they be seen as a liability to the organisation?  On the other hand discomfort in approaching an HR department might also be a deterrent to seeking help. The fear of stigma or the idea that someone could be perceived as incapable of fulfilling their role could create a “keep silent and push through at any cost” scenario that will most certainly exacerbate the situation. Some people also have an internal mindset where their perception is that there is little kindness or compassion when it comes to illness that is linked to the mind and this is key to understanding how to offer help in the context of an organisation. I think an open door policy coupled with entrenched wellbeing initiatives across organisations are good first approaches to mitigating this risk.    

Q. You work with families and individuals. Do you feel it’s important for employers to take the family situations of their employees into account?

A. Depending on the context, I think yes. It’s immensely challenging for someone to deal with a tough family situation and still come to work with their head held high and a positive attitude. A façade will only last so long and burnout is the inevitable outcome, to the detriment of the employee and the wider organisation. An employer has a duty to provide the agency for employees to feel comfortable approaching their line manager and feel supported during tough times. Supporting employees through personally emotional times provides great benefit in terms of staff turnover and organisational reputation. Having said that there is a balance organisations need to walk. Personal circumstances may not be their business and it can be extremely difficult but helpful to find the right organisational balance.

Q. In your experience, do British workplaces lack compassion for employees and how does this impact overall workplace experience?  

A. I wouldn’t say they lack compassion, but a lack of understanding of the complexities of mental health issues can result in unintended outcomes. Historically, due to the lack of knowledge, mental health concerns were perhaps trivialised and discounted. Physical illnesses are visible and symptomatic, however outwardly asymptomatic mental health conditions would have raised suspicion and doubt among HR professionals during an age where the subject was unknown, not discussed and/or highly stigmatised.

Q. Has your fascinating work with Bedouin tribes in the Sinai desert impacted the way you view collaboration in workplaces?  

A. I think we can draw parallels between desert tribes and workplace teams. I’ve seen first-hand how collaboration amplifies progress and community efforts among tribal communities. Duplicated in a corporate environment it represents the power of collaborative group efforts in achieving wider organisational objectives. I still miss at times being immersed in a tribal culture and my Bedu colleagues and friends. I am glad to be working with our own equivalent here.

Q. You talk about self-sufficient integrated teams having a significant positive impact on a community. Is this reflected in workplaces, and if not, how could that be improved?

A. Teams that work under their own set of guidelines tend to work smarter, rather than existing under preordained overarching rules which are often less efficient, bound by red tape and subject to procedural obstacles. Having said that protocols and procedures are needed and are effective in keeping teams safe and on track. In the Bedouin community for example, it’s evident how small teams working collaboratively with other small teams enhanced the overarching efficiency of the tribe as a whole. Workplaces could benefit from the same structure, however caution should be given to departments and teams who become too siloed and inefficient at cross-departmental communications. Transparency and regular communication between teams improve process and ultimately adaptability and wellbeing. All teams need different skills and a diversity of people and thinking. How to assess and create that is to my mind an art form and key to organisational wellbeing.

Q. You are ordained in the Church of England. Do you feel that religious beliefs should be supported in the workplace and how could this be achieved?

A. Religious beliefs fall under the diversity and inclusion protocols and yes, I believe acceptance of one’s personal beliefs in the workplace is a vital component to a healthy corporate ecosystem. It’s also important to people and therefore helps with overall loyalty to an organisation and retention of staff if employees beliefs are understood. Most of all enjoyment of who people are and the way they understand the world is a mark of respect. It is important however that religion is not allowed to be used to hide or tolerate bad and damaging behaviour to others. This can itself be cause for friction around the needs of some individuals over others and needs careful attention to the nuanced understanding of human rights. There can be conflicts of interest which need careful attention.

An organisation’s core values and mission are the foundation for diversity and inclusion to survive. It’s not enough to have a culturally diverse workforce, or promise tolerance for religious diversity across the organisation’s property. The organisation needs to live and breathe its diversity culture and reflect this belief in everything that they do and say. It takes work to create such a culture but once embedded it usually lives on in a healthy way, so long as the hierarchy is tasked with watching out that it doesn’t get eroded.

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Pam Quinn and Vannessa Young of BIBA on This Can Happen 2018

Pam Quinn, Head of Communications and Vannessa Young, Corporate Social Responsibility Lead, both at BIBA, spoke to Team TCH about their commitment to improving the wellbeing of their workforce and the impact that This Can Happen 2018 had on their strategies.

“BIBA represents general insurance brokers in a sector that employs more than 100,000 people and which places great importance on the relationships they build with their clients. In our 2019 manifesto we committed to highlighting opportunities for improving mental wellbeing. We also called on organisations in our sector to create a culture of openness around workplace mental health and wellbeing. We attended This Can Happen 2018 and came away from a great event buzzing with ideas about how to drive our commitments forward. That is why we’re delighted to support This Can Happen again and will do whatever we can to help make the 2019 event an even bigger success than the first, if that’s possible.”

Pam Quinn, BIBA Head of Communications and Vannessa Young, BIBA Corporate Social Responsibility Lead

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We need to treat mental health as seriously as we treat physical health.

Kizzy Augustin, Partner at Russell-Cooke tells us about her experience at This Can Happen 2018.

Q. Why did you decide to attend This Can Happen 2018?

A. Having known Zoe from our previous interaction in providing courses for the Family Support Network at our law firm, I was aware that the issues surrounding mental health and wellbeing kept coming up as a topic that employees wanted to discuss more openly. Once I had moved to another law firm as a Partner, where I am now one of many Partners responsible for the progress of our firm and the retention of competent, happy and healthy employees, I decided that it was sensible to attend a conference that could provide me with some practical solutions on how best to support our workforce, while doing what we can to keep up with what others in our industry are doing to address workplace mental health and wellbeing. This conference certainly did not disappoint!

Q. What did you come away with?

A. Some of the key takeaway lessons for me included the need to treat mental health as seriously as we treat physical health. I am a Health and Safety lawyer and much of my practice has involved the defence of companies and individuals that have  allegedly breached health and safety legislation in some way and this normally centres around a physical injury (or at the very least, the risk of physical injury). There should be a shift in thinking about the potential impact on an employee’s mental health after being involved in a workplace incident. Also, listening to the Duke of Cambridge was inspiring in the sense that he has gone through some difficult experiences in the public eye and his comments (as well as those from retired police sergeant Edwards Simpson) were helpful in finding ways to manage employee mental health without simply just ticking a box, and we should genuinely care about our employees by looking after them and investing in their wellbeing. Finally, the importance of taking the time to communicate with the younger members of our team is key to understand how we should work in the future – we clearly need to create a culture of being open, supportive and transparency and this is how we will continue to attract the best new talent.

Q. Why do you think it is important for us to be having conversations about mental health in the workplace?

 

A. If we don’t openly address issues surrounding mental health in the workplace, we may lose good members of staff – not just because they may be suffering from occupational stress issues but because we are not keeping up with the rest of our industry and in fact, not keeping up with the rest of the UK generally. There is definite movement towards creating a work environment that fosters active communication and support between senior management and the more junior members of staff. As many have said before, ‘look after your employees and they will look after you.’ That starts with taking away the stigma that has been historically attached to mental health.

Q. How does mental health coincide with the Health and Safety side of your practice?

A. As I suggested before, there has been recent talk about looking at mental as well as physical health when addressing potential breaches of health and safety legislation. In the past, any issues surrounding occupational stress could result in a civil claim for negligence, which may end in compensation being paid to the person that has suffered. In the future, I can see the possibility of criminal prosecutions being pursued following an occupational mental health related incident. I have certainly represented companies that have had close calls – being investigated for corporate manslaughter following the suicide of a stressed employee and investigations into the working practices of a university following complaints of students suffering health problems as a result of the pressures of onerous examination and coursework requirements. Given the rise in the level of fines for health and safety breaches over the last couple of years, where the culpability of an organisation and the seriousness of harm risked are key factors to be taken into account, I can’t see why the impact on an employee’s mental health wouldn’t be another significant factor in the future.

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Does becoming a parent make working more stressful?

Geraldine Gallagher of the Executive Coaching Consultancy answers the question.

Nowadays enlightened employers recognise that becoming a parent marks a momentous life change for a significant portion of their employees. For people in professional careers they are likely to become new parents in their thirties; just when their careers are taking off. It’s a vulnerable time and as many as one in ten of mothers experience Post natal depression according to figures from the NHS. The incidence of fathers experiencing PND is on the rise too, presumably as more men take on the role as primary carer. Even when PND isn’t triggered, becoming a parent can result in significant stress.

We coach predominantly in large City firms where the pressure to perform is high and the people we coach are high fliers. They are in the turbo-charged phase of their career and the decision to become a parent is not taken lightly. Women in particular are very conscious of the maternity penalty where their careers can stall when they become mothers. So, to forestall this, they try to pass key career milestones before having their baby. They worry a lot about whether they’ll still be taken seriously after they’ve had a baby and can’t fathom how they will manage their current role in less time. That’s where coaching is useful as we can help them figure out what makes them good so they can play to their strengths and focus their energy more. Helping them to slow down and think about what 20% of what they do results in the 80% impact is a good way to ward off anxiety about a less elastic day.

Having them practice setting boundaries before they go off on maternity leave is helpful too. Of course Managers can do this too. Managers need to check in with women who are pregnant by asking how they are doing. Avoid the ‘wall of silence” that some mothers have described to us when their manager almost avoids them, so nervous are they about saying the wrong thing. It’s helpful to have a dialogue about contact while they’re off too. Best not to assume that they won’t want any contact at all. When in doubt, ask. At times in our first coaching sessions with mothers-to-be, some can seem in denial.

Their jobs are highly pressurised and they don’t have time to think about it, preferring to work as hard as possible right up till they have the baby. It’s as if “having a baby” is just one of the hundreds of things on their To Do list. it’s worth making sure someone isn’t overworking on the run up to their maternity leave. It’s hard to get it right because many women don’t want to be treated differently and are anxious to prove that nothing will change and may feel patronised by exhortations to go home. Equally, other women describe how insensitive their manager has been by continuing to arrange meetings at a late hour or not respecting their Ante-natal appointments.

Each person who is going to become a parent requires a tailored approach because they are all individuals. Good managers check in with them and acknowledge there is change ahead but also make them feel confident that their job is secure. A vote of confidence is so important at this time. Just telling someone that they will be missed can have a huge impact on anxiety levels. Asking them what contact they would like when they are on leave is a good idea too. Suggest a “communication contract” to make it more of a commitment. We tend to see our clients when they are still on parental leave and so we can be more tuned in to what’s going on for them. Given the confidentiality contract with us they also feel more able to discuss Post Natal Depression or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Managers may not realise there’s a problem as our clients don’t always feel able to reveal to their employer that they are struggling. The decision to be honest with their manager very much depends on the quality of the relationship. If there’s a strong relationship and no fear of ​stigma or negative consequences then it’s far easier to communicate what’s going on. Also if there is an informal communication contract in place the individual is going to be more likely to share what’s going on. On occasions where there hasn’t been much contact and a new parent requests an extension to their leave this can be a sign that there’s a problem. It’s definitely worth exploring what’s precipitated the change in plan and avoid assuming, in the case of mothers that it’s “just natural because all mums want to be with their kids”.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that the partners of people suffering from PND suffer too. As men don’t have to inform their employer that they are becoming a dad the news can come as a surprise. Again it’s a good idea to look out for behavioural changes that go beyond just being more tired than usual. Signs like making more mistakes, not being able to focus, changing their mind more than usual or even digging their heels in can all point to stress. When mothers come back to work they can experience what we call “invisible bump syndrome”. It’s important for managers to recognise that they are juggling a lot and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.

The combination of the lack of sleep and the less elastic day can play havoc with mental health. This can be exacerbated by a fear of being seen not to cope. Taking the time to check in again is vital for managers. Open ended questions work better than the “Are you Ok? “Or “Is everything alright?” which can elicit “Yes I’m fine” answers. Taking the time to understand more about Post Natal Depression and realising that it can also happen to fathers is all part of an overall movement towards de-stigmatising mental illness. As 4% of women and 3.6% of men have a baby every year it’s wise to be more vigilant about changes in behaviour for both new mothers and fathers.

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The importance of supporting women in the workplace

Women in full-time employment are almost twice as likely to have a mental health problem as their male counterparts - 19.8% vs 10.9%.

This shocking statistic from the Mental Health Foundation raises difficult questions and places a heavy emphasis on employers and the steps they are taking – or not taking – to support their female workforce.

It’s fair to say that the majority of right-thinking people believe that women are entitled to equality in the workplace, in terms of financial remuneration for their work, professional recognition and opportunities to grow and lead businesses. However, the fact remains that men and women are entirely different species, with different needs that arise from the one aspect of humanity that simply cannot be changed – biology.

The Mental Health Foundation also tells us that 10% of mothers in the UK have mental health problems at any given time. Women who choose to have children and continue to work almost unanimously relate a struggle at some level to achieve a happy work-life balance. Sadly there remains a reluctance in the corporate world to accept that to retain and nurture female staff, supporting their needs is imperative. A proactive approach is essential to helping women facing mental health challenges and concerted efforts are vital to ensuring that successful flexible working can be achieved. When this ethos is embraced, the results are phenomenal. An improved bottom line, and more importantly, a happy and productive workforce.

Although we’re working towards achieving this cultural change, the road is long and there is a huge amount of work to be done.

In 2018 The Institute for fiscal studies published a report called ‘The rise and rise of women’s employment in the UK’. Key findings show that over the past 40 years, the UK has seen an almost continual rise in the proportion of women in employment. The employment rate among women of ‘prime working age’ (25-54) is up from 57% in 1975 to a record high of 78% in 2017.

These changes reflect the altered working patterns of women at specific points in their life cycle, with far more women in employment over the course of their mid-to-late 20s and early 30s. They reflect the growing number of women choosing to have children later in life or never, combined with the fact that women are now much less likely to drop out of the labour market when they have their first child.

These societal changes have necessitated enormous cultural shifts in corporate leadership, yet some senior managers are struggling to keep up.

Another set of fascinating figures are highlighted by The Wise Campaign, who regularly analyse the number of women in STEM industries. In 2018 they found a significant increase to 25% women in STEM industries from previous years. There was a 25% increase in the number of professional women engineers in 5 years, taking the number to 58,000, more than double the number in 2013.

This is a traditionally male-dominated sphere and the dramatic influx of women has required significant transformation of management strategies.

Employers must adapt to the changing face of their workforce by engaging vital strategies to help retain and nurture female staff and to support their need for flexible working. Without the backing of employers women will continue to face challenges and the appalling mental health figures will not improve. Leaders must strive to help women stay in, or return to work, and improve opportunities through greater flexibility.

With considerable effort, next year’s statistics may paint a happier picture for women in the workplace.

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Sheri Hughes of PageGroup tells us how they have made gender equality a priority

Friday March 8th, 2019 is International Women’s Day. This year’s theme of #BalanceforBetter is a nod to the last tumultuous couple of years in the world of diversity rights.

When hundreds of women broke their silence on sexual abuse by high profile figures, the world took notice. #MeToo has changed Hollywood, but has its impact been felt in workplaces on our side of the pond?

As we watched senior staff at high profile British organisations reveal their salaries and jaw-dropping inconsistencies between the sexes became apparent, companies around the UK took the opportunity to strive for positive change. Sheri Hughes at global recruitment firm PageGroup, is a leading light in the fight for gender equality in the workplace. Lauded as a UK employer that is building gender equality into their business strategy, they continue to grow an inclusive workplace culture. We spoke to Sheri about her motivation, her strategies and the outcomes of her ground-breaking work.

Q. How does PageGroup promote gender equality and what's the company approach to women (and men) balancing family with work?

A. We have implemented many innovative schemes within the business to support our female staff.

  • Our Women@Page network aims to create a more inclusive working environment, helping increase the numbers of female senior leaders, and demonstrating the company’s commitment to gender balance. We launched our Senior Female Leadership Development Programme with  The Charisma Connection in the UK and we run annual global campaigns to celebrate International Women’s Day to inspire our female workforce.
  • The W@P mentoring programme has been a key driver in retaining female employees at Manager and Director levels, and in the UK, PageGroup has seen an increase in its female Director population from 25% in 2012 to 41% in 2017.
  • Parents@Page was established to provide all parents and carers support with resources, information and understanding throughout their journey as parents.
  • Maternity workshops for mothers-to-be. Our maternity coaching programme has allowed the business to increase maternity return rates from 76% to 90%. 
  • New Parents Workshops help all working parents cope with their responsibilities at home alongside their commitment to the business and offer useful strategies on managing that home-life balance when they become parents.
  • We have a dynamic working culture which is an enormous benefit for staff. Our high trust, high performance culture allows employees to manage their work life blend in the best way for them.
  • Parenting seminars with Educating Matters help guide our staff through the minefield of parenting.
  • Our Work & Family Space portal is an incredibly valuable service where our employees can access free emergency backup childcare or eldercare as one of many resources.

Q. Your work on gender equality at PageGroup has been exemplary. What motivated you to tackle the issue?

A. It’s always been an issue I’ve been aware of due to press coverage and personal stories of professional women around me but when Lord Davies published his reports on gender balance at board level for FTSE 100, and then subsequently for FTSE 250 and 350, it brought the importance of the issue to the fore. The report recommended that a third of all boards should be women and we started to think about ways in which we, as a business, could start to make changes. Our CEO has 3 daughters, so he was on board straightaway. We got the ball rolling and the rest is history!

Q. Do you feel the recent #MeToo campaign has empowered women in the workplace?

A. I do. We’ve seen so much positive change since the campaign took hold, mostly due to women feeling empowered. But there’s another side to the story. I sometimes worry that we run the risk of men not ‘engaging with’ women in informal capacities in the same way as they would their male colleagues for fear of their behaviour being misinterpreted. Male leaders must treat all their colleagues in the same way and perhaps adjust how they engage informally with both their male and female peers so that everyone is included and feels equal.

Q. How has the recent implementation of compulsory gender pay gap reporting affected women's position in your workplace and others that you know of?

A. We’ve been working hard on addressing gender equality at PageGroup for some time and we had already taken huge strides towards achieving that balance. We’ve been affecting change since before it was mandatory, but since the Gender Pay Gap was introduced we’ve seen a change across the board. The happy news is that now 93% of businesses are taking action to close the gap and increase diversity in their workforce, rather than a disappointing 62% in 2017.

Q. Does PageGroup have programmes in place to support women returning to work after leave?

A. We offer all the initiatives mentioned above as well as a buddy system for all new mothers (and fathers too) and we have signed the Working Forward pledge - a nationwide campaign, backed by some of the UK’s leading businesses figures, to ensure that workplaces offer the best environments possible for pregnant women and new parents.

Q. PageGroup has been recognised in the Times Top 50 Employers list. Can you explain what sets you apart?

A. All of the benefits I have mentioned above are so valuable in the area of corporate equality and our employees tell us all the time how much they have benefited. Other areas that help our workforce thrive and have received recognition include:

  • First recruitment company to sign the Time To Change pledge
  • First recruitment company to reach Stonewall Top 100 Employers in 2018
  • Returners programme
  • Global IWD campaign each year which recognises female talent on a global platform
  • We were awarded the BITC Gold Award for Gender 2018
  • Unconscious Bias/Inclusive Leadership training
  • Global Employee Engagement Survey
  • Career & Executive coaching
  • 360 personal development plans
  • Think Act Report campaign
  • Signed the Executive Code of Conduct
  • Partnered with Smartworks

Q. Have we reached an age of gender equality, or do we still have a long way to go?

A. Let’s not break out the champagne quite yet. We’ve passed some major milestones in a much longer journey to gender balance in business. Leaders are convinced of the business imperative for gender diversity - they no longer ask why they should have better balance in their workplace, they want support and ideas on how to achieve it. There’s still a long way to go but we get closer every day.


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My experience at This Can Happen 2018

I was lucky enough to attend the inaugural “This Can Happen” conference on mental health in the workplace on Tuesday, 20th November 2018. You may have heard about it, if only because HRH the Duke of Cambridge attended to talk about his experiences of mental health in the workplace from his days as an air ambulance pilot. Royal patronage certainly helps when it comes to publicity and breaking down the stigma attached to mental health and wellbeing.

The conference was attended by over 750 delegates from over 100 companies. It was an impressive conference and left a lasting impression on all who attended. I was lucky enough to spend the day with my colleagues Pippa Marler, Lindsay Brown, Richard Corran and Mark Brenlund.

The major thing I took away from the day is that mental health is such a significant issue, it needs appropriate time, resources and focus if we are ever going to break down the stigma attached to it and eliminate the barriers that people feel exist when it comes to talking about their mental health. I hadn’t really appreciated just how many things can affect a person’s mental health and wellbeing.

I went to an enlightening talk on addiction by Mandy Saligari (you may have seen her on Channel 5’s ‘In Therapy’). Addiction, according to Mandy, is “Using something repeatedly to fix how you feel to the detriment of yourself”. This goes way beyond traditional views of ‘addiction’ and I am sure it is something many of us can relate to whether the addiction manifests itself in terms of drugs, alcohol, gambling, caffeine, nicotine, overeating, screen time, or exercise.

Another important talk I attended was on suicide at work and how to understand and manage the effect of it. Most workplaces are relatively unprepared to help employees who are struggling with suicidal thoughts or to assist colleagues following the death of a co-worker by suicide. The talk highlighted the importance of employer’s having a clear policy on how to handle issues surrounding suicide and the difficulties in addressing such a sensitive matter.

Richard noted the statistics on suicide, particularly in relation to men. In the UK, men remain three times more likely to take their own lives than women. The highest suicide rate in the UK is men aged between 45 and 49. There were men from West Yorkshire Police and Jaguar Landrover talking about their own mental health struggles, particularly in respect of suicide, highlighting the importance of taking that first step or encouraging others to take that first step in terms of talking about suicidal thoughts.

Richard also attended a session on menopause and mental health. Women are at greater risk of experiencing mental health problems during the menopause, yet in general workplaces rarely raise awareness of the issue or provide specific help and support. For some reason it is one of those topics rarely spoken about in the workplace, which is possibly reflected in the fact that Richard cut a lonely figure in a session filled almost exclusively by female delegates.

The other thing that I hadn’t realised causes significant mental health problems is money. Over half of UK employees say that money worries affect their behaviour and ability to perform effectively in the workplace. This affects people whether they are high earners or at the lower end of the pay scale, as it is about the management of money as well as actual income levels. Richard attended a session which considered practical ways in which employers can provide help and support to their staff to be both mentally and financially well.

Mark noted throughout the day a number of messages, but two key ones. Firstly, it is paramount that mental health is discussed. We must shake off the stigma that attaches to it. Who we talk to doesn’t matter and we will all have our own network whether that is a work based colleague or social contact. But such is the pressure these days that we should all look out for the signs of others we engage with and ask the question of whether someone is ok, and be prepared to ask twice. There were personal accounts on the day from different people in different professions with different pressures, all of whom benefitted from the interjection from another, particularly where there were unhelpful personal perceptions that were wrong. Harbouring a belief about something can add internal pressure, and if this is incorrect and can be removed, the pressure is immediately lifted.

The other key point that Mark took back was that while on a human level we want those we work with to be mentally and physically fit, this works on a commercial level also. There is a body of evidence to demonstrate that those members of staff that are mentally fit are more productive. So take time out for yourself, use those Perkz, talk to your colleagues and friends and you will become a more efficient and productive worker that will benefit your team, the firm and your clients, as well as yourself.

Overall the conference highlighted the importance of cultural change, and there were many examples of the mental health journeys that a number of employers have taken and are continuing to take. It was uplifting to hear about just how progressive some employers are in respect of this important issue.

As well as coming away from the day with many exciting and practical ideas that can be taken forward, the final talk of the day was an amazing story of someone who has harnessed her own personal tragedy and is now inspiring others. Victoria Milligan lost her husband, daughter and her leg in a horrific boating accident in 2013. She had life changing challenges to deal with including grief and loss, coming to terms with being disabled and having to learn to walk again, and then being sole parent to her remaining children. Her story highlights that, regardless of circumstances, we can all make a difference in terms of improving people’s mental health and wellbeing.

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Accenture’s Barbara Harvey speaks of her pride at being part of This Can Happen 2018

The room was packed, the lights were dimmed, the stage was empty and I was sitting in the front row, mic’d up and running through my presentation in my head. Then a video started rolling on the big screen and, as the music signalled the opening of This Can Happen 2018, I felt my eyes prick with the emotion of it all. This finally was happening. A conference hall full-to-bursting with people like me, who see the workplace as being central to tackling the issues around mental health and who are determined to make a difference. Pride, excitement, anticipation…. And nerves!

From the moment Neil, Jonny and Zoe asked whether Accenture might be their research partner and until the moment I stepped down from that stage my focus was how on how we could develop a piece of research that would help them achieve their goal. We wanted to show the world that mental health isn’t a minority issue, that it affects us all. And that employers truly can make a difference. And that’s just what we did. We showed that 9 out of 10 workers in the UK are impacted by mental health, either directly or through someone they know. And we showed that when employers create a more open workplace culturemore workers seek help and feel safe to talk.

But while sharing our research findings was a moment of tremendous pride during the day, the day brought us so much more. Partnering with, and just being at, This Can Happen – and the presence in the audience of our UK CEO Oliver Benzecry - sent a BIG signal through the organization; demand for our mental health allies training is stronger than ever and we’ve been continuing to roll out awareness training to the managing directors who lead our business in the UK, with many more of them speaking out on a personal level on Time to Talk Day than ever before. We’ve also been in the studio making movies to help us spread the message that it’s safe to talk about mental health. Internationally, we’re launching mental health support programmes too. I’m writing this from The Dock, in Dublin where the faces of our Irish allies smile out from a poster by the coffee machine; our allies programme in Poland was the most recent to go live.

So, when the team at This Can Happen asked whether we’d be a research partner again this year there was only one answer. Yes. We look forward to seeing you there.

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Founders Zoe and Neil Reflect on This Can Happen 2018

2019 is in full swing and employers around the UK are planning the year ahead for their staff. Many organisations are turning to one of last year’s highlights for ideas and strategies for looking after their most important asset – their people. This Can Happen 2018 well and truly happened. It was buzzy, exciting and bursting with ground-breaking content from some of the country’s leading mental health experts, who brought wisdom and pioneering ideas to 750+ guests. Everyone was focussed on finding solutions to improve awareness, acceptance and action on mental health issues within their workforce.

Zoe Sinclair and Neil Laybourn, This Can Happen’s founders, reflect on the incredible event and its enormous impact on organisations across the UK.

Neil: “One of the highlights for me was the personal support from companies that Jonny (Benjamin) and I have spoken to over the years. We have given blood, sweat and tears to make something like this possible by campaigning all over the world and it simply wouldn’t have happened without those companies getting behind us.

“To see this idea turned into a reality and to leave a legacy for the work that began over a simple conversation on Waterloo Bridge in 2008 makes me realise that anything is possible and has given me the confidence to believe in what I am doing.

“A major highlight was Prince William and the Royal Foundation showing further and continued support for the work we do to improve mental health awareness. I mean, Wow!”

Zoe: “The launch event achieved incredible things. Content and discussions that have never been heard before created an atmosphere and ambiance that was hard to define but was something truly special. A number of senior people who attended said that they felt that people really wanted to open up to each other. These were people who started to have conversations with colleagues that they’d never had before. Everyone came together to discuss personal issues no matter what level they were or what size their company.

“Of course having Prince William was a complete privilege. His compassion when meeting people who have struggled with their mental health resonated very strongly for me. We were so grateful that he attended.”

Neil also spoke candidly about how learning to run a successful conference and events business has not been easy and has required him to step out of his comfort zone and continually challenge himself personally and professionally.

“It felt like a gift. It has really helped me grow,” he added. “I’m simply an ex-personal trainer, turned accidental mental health advocate. I have never been trained to have conversations in boardrooms, or speak to thousands of people and inspire them to make change. I never went to college, university or got an MBA, but my gut tells me that it’s about how you connect with people and get people to believe in your vison.

“I have learned that people want to connect authentically with other people, regardless of being the CEO or an intern, and I will continue this approach as more businesses ask me to help them with their mental health journey.

“I look back on the 20th November 2018 and think… ‘did that really happen?’ and the answer is, yes it really did! Now when I say ‘This Can Happen’ in any situation in life, I know it’s the truth!”

As for This Can Happen 2019 – it’s in the planning! The founders have reiterated their desire to continue these conversations and to strive for further solutions for improved workplace mental health.

Team This Can Happen warmly invites businesses of any size to join us on our journey. Book your tickets here – 25% discount on tickets until 28th February!

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This is Normal. This is Me. This is All of Us.

Lyssa Barber founded the mental health network at UBS. She spoke to us about her driving force and why this initiative is so important. You know that list you sometimes see of 'top 5 most stressful life events'? I suspect you're supposed to experience them one at a time. In  2004, I managed to tick off marriage, bereavement, changing job and moving house (twice). Having carried me successfully through all those, my mental health waved a tiny white flag and I experienced a complete breakdown. Panic attacks, depression, OCD, self-harm. With hindsight, my mental health had been poor since childhood. Mental ill-health is a combination of nature and nurture, so being the grand-daughter of a depressive hypochondriac (grandpa), and the daughter of an anxious depressive domestic violence victim (mum) somewhat raised my levels of vulnerability. Add in a messy divorce, a custody battle and limited familial support and you've got a perfect recipe for a child with significant self-esteem and behavioural issues which – without the right help – will mean a future of mental health struggles. Mine isn't an unusual story – far from it. You all know the figures; 75% of adult mental health issues start in childhood. 1 in 4 people will suffer with a mental health concern in any given year. Only 24% of us gets the proper kind of treatment. Ongoing loss to the UK economy is close to £100bn. Suicide is the biggest killer of men under 45. So we have a problem which will take a concerted, ongoing culture shift to address. I was extremely fortunate. My GP was really switched on with regards to mental health, and worked with me to provide the right support. I got therapy, and took medication, which worked for me. I've had some ups and downs since – particularly after my stepdad passed away in 2014 - but having been through it before made me better equipped to act when I realised I was headed down a spiral. I founded the mental health network at UBS in the UK. We launched in 2015 and have over 250 members, and growing fast. Mental health and wellbeing is discussed across the whole of our UK business, with meditation, VR mindfulness, quiet rooms and Mental Health First Aiders all in the pipeline. I directed and produced our This is Me film, in partnership with the Lord Mayor's Appeal Campaign, and recently abseiled down the side of 100 Bishopsgate to raise funds for the Samaritans. I've done this because of my mental health issues, not in spite of them. 15 years ago I would have had neither the confidence nor the fire to achieve any of these things. Ironically, the spark of my motivation to help change the business approach to mental health happened back in 2004, when I approached my then-boss with the news I'd been signed off work with depression. "I don't really believe in depression", he said. In one glib sentence erasing my lifetime of struggle. Well, I believe in it, and I don't want anyone else to have to go through that. I want a better understanding of mental health & wellbeing for everyone, in any size firm. I believe passionately that good levels of mental health & wellbeing are needed for everyone to really thrive. And thriving, engaged employees boost productivity. Check out the data. I've been delighted to see the groundswell of focus on mental health over the last couple of years, and excited about the potential for positive change through events like This Can Happen. If you're coming along, do grab me and say hello!  

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Mental health in the workplace: the nutritional approach

Angela Steel from SuperWellness spoke to us about healthy eating in the workplace: This Can Happen’s purpose to make prevention a top priority for businesses makes it a very exciting partnership for us. This philosophy of prevention is at the heart of our approach too. We’ve made it our mission to help make workplaces nutrition-smart, because nutrition plays such a key role in preventing both physical and mental health problems. The extent to which nutrition can make a difference is often overlooked within in the corporate world, and yet employers have a huge opportunity to make a difference. You only have to look at the statistics to spot a clear ‘Nutrition Gap’: the fact that poor diet is likely to impact productivity by as much as 66% (according to research by Brigham Young University). Yet 75% of adults are not achieving their ‘Five a Day’. This gaps affects workplaces across the UK, and if you think about it, it’s easy to see how: convenience or comfort food become appealing when time is tight and energy is low. Not to mention the challenges of business travel, eating at the desk (as the majority of employees we’ve surveyed do) and the common office pitfalls of doughnuts and birthday cake. What about mental health? Nutrition’s influence on mental health is becoming better known and more widely accepted. Most of us will have experienced how certain foods affect our mood. Feeling ‘hangry’ if we’ve left it a bit long till lunch, or conversely, feeling light and happy when our diet is on track and filled with nutritious foods in healthy amounts. Scientifically, there is a growing body of research now supporting the link between dietary patterns and the risk of anxiety and depression. Some of the newest and most fascinating areas of research into nutrition for mental wellbeing include:

  • The gut-brain connection, with groundbreaking research into how the bacteria in our digestive tract activate neural pathways which influence anxiety levels, perception of stress and mental outlook
  • The nutrients which are essential for good brain function, in which many people’s diets are deficient: magnesium (green leafy veg), zinc (eggs, legumes), B vitamins (a wide variety of whole foods) and D3 (mainly sunlight)
  • Discoveries in the role of certain antioxidants in neuroplasticity – in other words the growth of new neurons and damage repair by polyphenols for example (plants are abundant sources as is dark chocolate – good news!)

On a practical level nutrition offers a fresh perspective on mental wellbeing in the workplace – a scientific, practical understanding, which people can start implementing straight away. Simply replacing a daily food habit with a healthier alternative (think a nutritious snack to prevent the 11am trip to the vending machine) can set someone on a positive cycle very quickly. Improved energy and mood can in turn make exercise or mindfulness practice feel more within their reach. Food is a universal topic which engages most people – let’s face it, most of us love to eat and to talk about it! We’ve observed first hand how nutrition programmes can foster stronger social bonds between employees. For all of these reasons, the solutions-led talks and discussions encouraged by This Can Happen resonate with us. There’s no reason why the topic of mental health shouldn’t be uplifting when tackled with thought provoking ideas and new solutions.

About SuperWellness

SuperWellness is the leading provider in corporate nutrition-centred wellbeing in the UK. We work with a broad range of clients including VitalityHealth, P&O Ferries, AMCOGiffen, Eaton Aerospace, Harrods and The London Stock Exchange. SuperWellness  CEO Angela Steel, founded the company in 2011, having retrained in nutrition after spending 15 years in senior leadership in the IT industry. After experiencing the impact of nutrition on her own health, she developed a strong purpose to help more people benefit from it in the corporate world. Our core programme, the SuperWellness Challenge has been proven across diverse sectors including finance, media, hospitality, transport and construction, achieving high levels of participant engagement. The programme is among the first in the UK to deliver an independently validated ROI, through a reduction in sickness absence costs.

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BIBA tackles mental health in their workplace through innovation and commitment

Pam Quinn tells us why BIBA is committed to fully supporting every staff member who may be facing mental health challenges.

Q. Please can you tell us about BIBA's work with mental health? Where did the inspiration come from and what are you doing to help your staff?

A. At BIBA we have always recognised that our people are our most important asset and as a firm are always supportive of individual needs.  We were shocked but not wholly surprised to see reports in recent years about the impact of stress in financial services.  This led to us looking in more depth at the way this might impact our members and their employees as well as our own staff.  As a result we held an ‘Introduction to Mental Wellbeing’ interactive knowledge building session for all employees with Wellbeing Mental Health Ltd and subsequently rolled this out as a webinar session for our members which was fully subscribed.

Q. Do you feel that UK businesses as a whole are committed to tackling mental health at work, or are we falling short?

A. Certainly high profile campaigns such as the ‘Heads Together’ campaign by Princes William and Harry brought this topic right to the top of the agenda. More and more we see and hear about public figures dealing with mental health issues.  In the corporate world too, the concept of mental wellbeing is now being incorporated into workplace wellbeing policies.  Our 2018 Manifesto highlighted the extent and cost of absence caused by mental health issues and drew on the Heads Together research that revealed 83% of people who had had a conversation about their own mental health ‘found it helpful'. BIBA is determined to continue this frankness, promote the importance of mental health and to ‘change the conversation’ in the work place.

Q. Can you tell us about your partnership with This Can Happen? What appealed to you about our work?

A. At the BIBA Conference & Exhibition in 2018 we were privileged to present a session by Jonny (Benjamin) and Neil (Laybourn) to a sell-out audience.  What a powerful session it was, and judging by the reaction of business hardened insurance professionals there is a great willingness to take mental wellbeing on board.  That is why when This Can Happen approached us to work with them on their event we jumped at the chance to promote what you are doing with our membership and to give them the opportunity to attend.

Q. In your opinion, is the future looking bright for mental health in the workplace or do we still have a long way to go?

A. In our view there has been a step-change in the last 18 months with people in all walks of life being more open about their mental health.  The taboo is still being broken down. In some sectors more than others it is less likely to be a topic that colleagues, friends and family avoid. Yet yes there is more everyone can do and we need to shout the conversation more and more.

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Natasha Devon talks mental health

I was ten when I had my first panic attack. Of course, this was in much less enlightened times, when my understanding of mental illness was restricted to a third-hand account of the plot of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, so I didn’t know what was happening to me. I received a diagnosis of asthma and, when my inhaler didn’t work, it was concluded that I must have unspecified ‘allergies’. Fortunately for me, my secondary school was an environment where I felt safe, nurtured and cared for. I now understand that, when a child is adequately supported, it’s much easier for them to be ‘resilient’.

My troubles began in earnest when I went to university. I developed an eating disorder, something I now understand was a terrible coping strategy for anxiety and spent what should have been the best years of my life with my head in a toilet. After recovering from bulimia, I started to think about the way we discuss and understand mental health, in contrast to physical health. We all understand we have a body and pretty-much everyone has an awareness of the basic steps they can take to manage and monitor their physical wellbeing. We tell children to eat their vegetables and get some fresh air, for this very reason.

When it comes to mental health, we tend only to think about it when it goes wrong. My mental health education was restricted to awareness-raising assemblies which focussed on extreme case studies involving things like drug dependency, being sectioned and nearly dying of anorexia. These were important stories, but they weren’t given in any context. My hunch was we needed to start from where young people were, not where they might end up. I interviewed 500 teenagers and asked them a simple question – What did you wish you had been taught as part of your PHSE? The answers that came back were related to mental health, but they weren’t the mental illnesses you perhaps first think of when you hear those words – Things like body image, how to manage exam stress and bullying.

For the past twelve years, I’ve been working with experts in psychology and neuroscience to create lesson plans on the topics young people told me they wanted. I’ve been taking these classes into schools, colleges and universities throughout the UK and beyond and representing the voices of young people and teachers both in the media and at government level. It is, in my opinion, the best job in the world. Increasingly, however, I am hearing from children that their parents have mental health issues. In schools, one has a captive audience. When it comes to adults, stigma is still rife and it’s more difficult to deliver the message.

That’s why, in May this year, I teamed up with Bauer Media and Mental Health First Aid England to create ‘Where’s Your Head At’, a campaign to ensure we have staff trained in mental health first aid in every work place in the UK. Mental health first aid courses teach how to spot signs of common mental health issues like anxiety, stress and depression in a colleague, what to say (and what not to say) and what is appropriate to recommend in terms of further support and advice. Just like ‘regular’ first aiders, they are not a substitute for medical professionals but they do have the power to save lives. Furthermore, I believe the presence of mental health first aiders changes the culture of a work place. It allows us to understand that we all have mental health, that our wellbeing can fluctuate throughout our life and that it is possible to recover from and manage mental illness.

The idea that mental health issues are tied up with ‘character’ and ‘professionalism’ needs, desperately, to be challenged if people are to access the early intervention which is so crucial to recovery. I am taking our petition, which currently has 194k signatures, to Downing Street on 8th October. To find out more about the campaign and show your support, visit www.wheresyourheadat.org.

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Poorna Bell Tackles Workplace Mental Health

Award-winning journalist and author Poorna Bell was one of the first speakers confirmed for This Can Happen. As former UK Executive Editor and Global Lifestyle Head for HuffPost she has written extensively about mental wellbeing in the workplace and is a mental health activist. Her area of specialism is the mental health of men and she has started running workshops called FML: Fix My Life. Poorna spoke to us about her involvement in our event.

Q. What appealed to you about joining the speaking roster of This Can Happen?

A. I felt that what TCH was trying to achieve - creating a bold conversation around mental health in the workplace - was much needed. Despite the conversations we're having around mental health generally, there is still so much that needs to be done in terms of preparing workplaces to deal with mental health issues better, but also understanding the huge role that people and organisations can play in prevention. We are really behind where we need to be, and I hope this event contributes towards getting us closer to that goal.

Q. Have your own experiences of mental health challenges impacted the course of your career or the way you work?

A. I haven't suffered from mental health issues as a result of illness, but as a result of bereavement - my husband passed away three years ago. I was extremely lucky to have a workplace that understood and supported me, but it was clear that outside of where I worked, not everyone else was as lucky. It also struck me that despite being someone who had witnessed first-hand how mental illness can impact a person - my late husband struggled with chronic depression and addiction issues - there was still so much I needed to learn about how to handle people struggling with their mental health in the workplace. Overall, it has taught me how to be more empathetic and to look beneath the surface of what might be going on with a person. That has led to asking more questions that I may not have done, had I not been operating from a place of experience.

Q. What do you feel are the biggest challenges facing workers with mental health issues?

A. I think the biggest challenge is not feeling able to signal to their workplace when they are ill, and being able to communicate that effectively and feeling they will be met with understanding. A lot of people don't feel they can do that, and so try and manage their illness and their workload, which may impact how they are perceived at work, whether that is taking a lot of time off work, or inconsistencies in work. It is incredibly hard for someone to work effectively while ill, and if managers knew what was going on, they could make allowances and incorporate more flexible working. But it's a catch 22 that hinders workers because they don't feel comfortable coming forward in the first place. So we have to change that culture. I think the other thing is that managers just don't know how to handle a situation when it arises, and that signals an urgent need for training around such things.
 

Q. Do you feel that UK businesses are doing enough to combat mental health problems within their workforce?

A. I don't think they are. I think some companies are better than others, but it takes more than just putting on mental health talks at work. It has to be an integrated approach so making sure that new line managers for instance, understand how to deal with mental health in the work place as well as understanding how the printer works. In the same way that we have running clubs or people going to the pub after work, every company needs to ask what they are doing around mental health. If the answer is nothing, then that needs to be remedied quickly. Wellbeing often falls by the wayside when companies are struggling to hit profits and so on, but actually that's when you need to double down on wellbeing because it means people will be more productive.

Q. How do you feel you can help businesses prioritise this critical issue?

A. I've started running workshops called FML: Fix My Life, which as well as looking at handling BAME (Black Asian and Minority Ethnic) communities in the workplace - also cuts across mental wellbeing as a whole. The idea is to get companies thinking, opening up conversations and creating grassroots movements within teams to get them to look out for each other, as well as under-pinning that with support from senior management and HR. Stress costs our economy billions. It is completely preventable and the fact that these figures rise every year - whether it's absenteeism or people suffering from stress - shows we must work harder to address it.  

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Mental Health @ Mercer Group – Leading Edge Support for Staff

The team at This Can Happen is always on the lookout for businesses breaking the mould to protect and support their staff. Mercer is a global consulting leader, and we spoke to Beth Robinson about their cutting-edge mental health programme. The Mental Health @ Mercer group was established in 2017 following a conversation between two colleagues. Their goal was to create an internal resource to reduce stigma around mental health whilst signposting support to all colleagues. The introduction of the group was facilitated by the launch of Mercer’s Mental Health and Stress policy. A Mental Health strategy which seeks to normalise mental health was developed. Beth explained: We want colleagues to understand and recognise that nobody is at their best every day. Much in the same way that our physical health constantly fluctuates, so does our mental health and our senior leaders know that both types of health issues represent a risk for the business. Therefore, we want colleagues to feel they can be open about their mental health so that appropriate support can be provided. This momentum has been used to launch the Mental Health @ Mercer group.

We held a launch event to draw attention to the group and set up an internal intranet site. This internal community site is our content hub and includes personal stories, symptom checkers, life hacks and guides on how to help others. A key focus for the group is to create awareness of mental health and give all employees the basic knowledge required to be able to assist colleagues who are struggling, as well as being conscious of their own mental health.  Since the launch of the group 70 individuals have signed up and been trained as mental health first aiders, we have someone in every office so that all of our people nationally have access to someone to talk to.

We provide monthly wellbeing seminars to provide support across mental health, resiliency and mindfulness topics. Through strong feedback from colleagues we now know that they now feel more confident that they can speak to someone about their mental health and more empowered to support others. The Mental Health @ Mercer group is being used as a template for other operating companies to launch Mental Health @ their place of work.  Our other group companies are also now involved with Marsh launching their group in September, and Guy Carpenter and Oliver Wyman following shortly after. We have also held meetings with Thomsons Online Benefits to get a Mental Health group running there. At This Can Happen we love hearing about forward thinking organisations like Mercer. If your business is doing something innovative to raise mental health awareness please let us know!  

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This Can Happen Partners Create Innovative Audio Project - Headtrip: Hearing Depression

In 2017 Rebecca Hatchett, Lucia Scazzocchio and Ella Saltmarsh partnered up with Kings College London to produce Headtrip: Hearing Depression. An experience we’re looking forward to bringing to our guests at This Can Happen. Today we talked to Rebecca about the project, how it came about and the hopes she has for its future.

I’m not a mental health expert, I’ve come to this project from a more personal perspective; having lost a very close friend to suicide and being witness to the traumatic experience of her death. I am also a friend to others who suffer greatly at times with their mental health, so I wanted to use my experience to raise awareness and reduce the stigma that surrounds depression. In terms of my professional experience, over the last 20 years I've worked across the education and cultural heritage sectors - producing training, educational experiences and events.

Much of my work has used co-creation processes, where the product is co-produced with the service user, to ensure it captures lived, rather than purely interpreted, experiences. In 2015 I set up S.I.D.E Projects, an associate based organisation that brings together teams to deliver projects for social good. Headtrip came about through connections and serendipity. I wanted to co-produce something creative to help reduce stigma around mental health and met an audio producer and Social Broadcaster who was exploring how to use audio to create an immersive experiences to better understand mental health conditions - how to enable people to hear those internal voices.

We teamed up with Ella Saltmarsh, a script writer and force for social good, and Prof Ricardo Araya, King’s College London Professor of Global Mental Health. Together we conceived Headtrip and applied for Cultural Kings ‘Arts in Mind’ funding to support the production. We were delighted to be awarded the funding. Although it was a small amount, it enabled us to proceed with an initial pilot. Like me, every member of the team had their own personal, as well as professional, reasons for getting involved, so we were all dedicated, despite the financial restrictions. The key was to find co-creators willing to share their own lived experience.

We put a call out for a range of people to get involved, from those with first-hand lived experience of depression and those who had experienced through front-line work. Nine people attended our first focus group, many of whom continued on the project at different stages. We were prepared to find the first group reluctant to share such personal experiences in such an open forum and that we might have to try a number of different formats to really understand the lived experience. However the group not only appreciated being given the chance to talk openly with others who had experienced something similar to themselves, but suggested that this type of open discussion was very much needed. It also turned out that many who had signed up as front line workers, opened up that they had their own first-hand experiences too.

We followed up with 1-2-1 interviews and other co-creation sessions, but this first focus group stood out as a real eye opener into just how few opportunities there are for people to just share and talk openly. Once we had gathered the information we needed, we moved into production stage, again working with our co-creators at key mile stones to ensure the audio matched up to their combined experiences. The resulting audio piece is a fictional interpretation, based on our co-creator's lived experiences. It depicts one person's struggle with depression. We used Lucia’s incredible binaural recording and sound design expertise to take the listener into the inner workings and voice of our fictional character, making the experience as immersive as possible. Once the audio was ready, we held listening events to test the experience on different audiences.

We received some really incredible feedback - from depression sufferers thanking us for ‘hearing them’, to professionals seeing it’s potential benefit in their workforce, to medical students saying it is the best thing they’ve come across in terms of helping them understand the condition. In terms of future, we are keen for the audio to be used to raise awareness and reduce stigma. Already, King's College have expressed an interested using it in their medical training courses, which would be a great outcome for us. We’re also interested in producing other scenarios and conditions. We think binaural audio journeys, like Headtrip, could have real value in the workplace, which is why we have partnered with This Can Happen. We’re really excited to hear what the guests think and to explore possibilities through the event'.

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Nick Barnes of The National Centre for Suicide Prevention Training speaks exclusively to This Can Happen

On 10th September millions are encouraged to channel their precious memories of loved ones to help tackle the heartbreaking and often preventable tragedy that is suicide. For those left behind, there are endless questions about what they could have done to intervene or whether they could have spotted signs before their friend or relative took their own life.

As the suicide rate amongst young people in the UK continues to rise it’s up to us a society to ensure that we never forget those we’ve lost – and we do everything in our power to help others on this dangerous path. The International Association for Suicide Prevention in partnership with the World Health Organisation has established this day of memory, learning and decisive action to raise awareness around the globe that suicide can be prevented. Encouraged by this global awareness day, over 300 activities have been organised in 70 countries, including commemorative events, educational projects and press briefings.

At This Can Happen, our own founders’ story has touched many, and has demonstrated clearly that taking a minute to reach out to someone in your community – a family member, friend, colleague or even a stranger – could change the course of another’s life. Nick Barnes, Chief Executive at The National Centre for Suicide Prevention Training UK CIC spoke to us about Team This Can Happen’s involvement in their cause. “Neil and Jonny met on Waterloo Bridge, 10 years ago, through the practice of what, we would call Suicide First Aid”, said Nick. “A caring conversation between two people, or brief intervention results in safety and hope, when one person is thinking of ending their life, and the other is the life-guard that provides life-support. Years later they met again, and an enduring and inspirational partnership was formed, that has changed the lives of countless people who have heard and been positively impacted by their work. “On 12th September you are honouring the practice that brought you together, and attending the UK's qualification programme in suicide prevention. "SFA Suicide First Aid features that story, and gives learners a deep understanding into what suicide is, what causes suicide thoughts, and how we prevent it. It will give a great objective insight into the events of the day they met, and provide total affirmation of the skills and practice that saves lives.”

On 26th September, Neil and Jonny will join a number of colleagues and friends to talk at the Burning Questions symposium and launch of SFA Suicide First Aid in London. One burning question is: How was it to take the process of your meeting apart, and experience the programme that not only features your story in the film you narrate, but captures the practice that brought you together? Jonny and Neil’s story has impacted many. Those like Jonny who have survived a suicide attempt have much to teach us about the importance of the words and actions of others. They highlight to their audiences that although people are often reluctant to intervene, and there’s no specific formula, all it takes is a few words. If you don’t know what to say simply show empathy, concern and compassion and you could prevent a tragedy. People commonly and understandably worry about making things worse by intervening. The responsibility is huge but evidence suggests that the offer of support is likely to reduce distress, not exacerbate it. The International Association for Suicide Prevention has issued a list of signs to look out for:

  • Hopelessness
  • Rage
  • Uncontrolled anger
  • Seeking revenge
  • Reckless behaviour
  • Engaging in risky activities
  • Increased alcohol or drug use
  • Withdrawing from friends and family
  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Problems sleeping
  • Dramatic mood changes

They suggest ways we can help, including:

  • Listen, don’t judge, be compassionate and care
  • Check in with them regularly. Ask ‘are you OK?’
  • Take time to notice what’s going on with those you care about
  • If you’re worried about someone, seek professional help. There are many suicide prevention organisations

Their message to all of us is clear - Learn the signs, reach out and spread the word.  

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Confirmed Speaker - Gian Powers' Mental Health Role Models Make a Real Difference

One of the most exciting aspects of our work with This Can Happen is unearthing some truly amazing people to speak at the conference. Heroes, actually. People who have suffered greatly in the past and have harnessed the memories of their pain into innovative ways to help others. Here’s one such individual. As a former cog in the wheel of the corporate world, previous Deutsche Bank and PwC employee Gian Power witnessed first-hand some of the diversity and inclusivity issues that he felt simply had to be tackled. In 2015 he suffered his own personal tragedy that sparked his passion for creating change. Gian started looking for ways to work with corporates to ignite their employees' emotions in a new and unique way. And so TLC – The Lion’s Club – was born. TLC provides relatable role-models - TLC Lions - who share their own experiences with employees, highlighting a clear message and call to action through their talks. Gian has carefully selected 20 TLC Lions who are some of the most inspirational people in our country, including Dr Kamel Hothi OBE – Britain’s first Asian female banker and now advisor to The Queen and board member of Alzheimer’s UK and the Teenage Cancer Trust. Another TLC Lion is Paddington train crash survivor Pam Warren, known as the Lady in the Mask, and Matt Lindley, the RAF's first openly gay pilot. To date, clients including Rothschild, Lloyd's of London and Sony have benefited from The Lion’s Club’s unique offering. Gian took some precious time out of his crazy schedule to answer some questions for us.

Q. Please can you tell us a little bit about TLC. What was the inspiration and what's your mission?

A. TLC was founded in 2017 after I had spent a number of years in the corporate world and witnessed some of the diversity and inclusion issues that needed to be tackled. I was fortunate enough to see a number of guest speakers over the years but none left me full of emotion and wanting to take change, or not with the lasting impact. This is what I wanted to change. The urge for change was unexpected and unforeseen when in 2015 my own life was turned upside down and I found myself having to find what it was that made me tick. In May 2015 my father was murdered overseas and it changed my outlook forever. I realised that sharing how you feel in the workplace, as I did, was one of the most important tools. It not only makes you feel more included and allows you to be yourself but also makes you want to work harder and go the extra mile when you feel that those around you care. TLC is all about emotion and empathy and brings together a collective of 20 of the UK’s most inspiring people – ordinary people with extraordinary stories. They share powerful stories from the heart and land deep and important corporate messages and calls to action. TLC is on a mission to ignite emotion within organisations in London and globally. Our Lions (taken from my middle name Lion) have been carefully selected, coached and have incredible stories to share whilst understanding the importance of relating it back to a corporate audience. From London to Belgium, Singapore and beyond we’re working with companies such as Sony Pictures, GSK, Lloyd’s of London and RPC to bring out the empathy that lies within all of us to make for more inclusive and welcoming workplaces.


Q. Do you feel that corporates in the UK are currently doing enough (if anything at all) to tackle mental health problems faced by staff?

A. This differs greatly by company and industry. I’ll be very honest in saying I’ve had friends hospitalised because of poor mental health and wellbeing support in their workplaces and this is simply not good enough. Companies are however now opening up and understanding the importance of mental health problems at work. Realising that wellbeing programmes are no longer a ‘nice to have’ but quite simply a business imperative and have a direct impact on the productivity of their teams and the bottom line of the company. As well as having programmes and wellbeing schemes in place, they have to be made aware of for employees and made easily accessible. Often for companies we have to position it as ‘what’s in it for them’ i.e. a happier and more productive workforce. A PwC report in 2017 showed that 83% of employees surveyed saw a direct link between their wellbeing at work and how productive they are. With that in mind it’s a no brainer that to produce a more productive workforce, investing in their mental health and wellbeing is fundamental. It makes ethical and business sense.

Q. Is this an industry specific problem or is it apparent across the board?

A. Some industries are well known for longer hours, sleepless nights and although we can’t’ change that overnight, it’s now about putting other programmes and plans in place to support that lifestyle. My experience is from a banking and financial one and I’ve seen suicides and breakdowns because of poor support. This has to change. The answer for me is that with TLC clients, regardless of industry, there is an issue that needs to be tackled and some are taking it more seriously than others. Those at the top of organisations need to really believe and understand mental health and the effect on their employees. It’s for this reason we have 5 Lions focussed solely on Mental Health at TLC – sharing their stories first hand to help, educate and guide others.

Q. How do you identify and approach TLC role models?

A. Initially I had reached out to potential Lions, having a coffee and really getting to know them on a personal level. As TLC has evolved, a number of our new Lions join because of word of mouth. Note that TLC Lions are not seasoned public speakers, many have other day jobs. They share their stories to inspire others, to be role models and because they care. They speak with an element of rawness, realness and relatability. I have met over 70 people and have been very careful to bring on the right Lions who align with the TLC brand and values and importantly many of our Lions have an element of corporate experience which really allows them to tailor their messaging to the audience and be incredibly relatable.

Q. How can they help?

A. Our Lions speak from the heart, sharing real stories that have impacted them and those around them at work or at home. Often emotional but equally uplifting sessions, Lions are coached 1-1 by a TLC senior advisor Dr Kamel Hothi OBE who has 40+ years at Lloyd’s Banking group and is brilliant at ensuring stories are authentic but impactful to the audience. Building empathy isn’t the easiest of tasks but at TLC we believe that by storytelling and igniting emotions in the audience is a key way to urge others to think differently and to put themselves in someone else’s shoes. We leave employees thinking about their own actions, changes they are going to make going forward and hopefully being more mindful with their words and actions.

Q. Can everyday people relate to role models who are exceptional people or have experienced exceptional things?

A. I truly believe everyone has a story they’d like to share if we were willing to take the time and to listen. TLC Lions share their stories to encourage others to speak out in the workplace about their own emotions and feelings and we’ve seen this happen first hand at events. The experiences of our Lions may sound unique but the underlying themes be it mental health, coming out in the LGBT community or finding inner strength in times of tragedy affect all of us and so the messages are extremely relatable. We all face challenges be it at work or in our home life and one really can affect the other. Our Lions try to encourage others to recognise that and not be afraid to show some level of vulnerability when at work. TLC is for all.

Q. Mental health is a buzzword. Are we doing enough and what more should we be doing?

A. In the short 5 years since I started my corporate career, a lot has changed both in the workplace and socially. The once ‘stigma’ that was attached to talking about mental health is being removed thanks to many of the brave individuals who have spoken out and shared their own experiences. There is a lot more that can be done and that we will do but it’s also important to stop, reflect and look at how far we have come as individuals, companies or as a nation to support mental health and wellbeing at work and at home.

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Care For Yourself By Caring For Others

An annual survey of carers has just stated that 72% of carers report mental ill health as a result of caring - higher than the impact on their physical health. Lorna Easterbrook supports the carers amongst us - those selfless people who are responsible for providing or arranging care for a friend or relative who cannot care for themselves. She spoke to us about the mental health challenges – and surprising benefits - faced by carers.

Q. How can being a carer impact mental health?
A. Being a carer impacts on your mental health in a number of ways. If the person in your life needs support because of a disability, life changing injury, or serious illness, you might find yourself frequently anxious, asking yourself - are they okay? Are they playing down any difficulties? Are their care professionals doing a good job? Are they eating well? Are they drinking too much alcohol? Providing any form of care is an extra call on your time and energy and an extra responsibility, which can be very draining. You may be worried about money - can you keep working and still support this person? Can you afford the travel for extra visits or other costs? You may find being a carer and having a job (and perhaps other family roles to play) means you have little time for socialising, so you may become isolated from friends and stop pursuing hobbies. When you are tired and stressed it can become harder to stay positive, or to sleep well at night, or to concentrate - all of which affects your own mental health. Carers don't necessarily start out with 100% good mental health themselves, so extra caring responsibilities may have a serious negative impact. And if you are caring for someone with mental ill health you may find this additionally stressful - especially if you're providing most of their daily emotional support, or if you can't have coherent conversations with the person you're caring for. As carers, we worry that we are doing or saying the right thing from the cared for person's point of view. We worry on behalf of the person about their situation (even when they ask us not to worry!). We worry about how we can continue to support someone and still do everything else we need and want to do. We worry about no longer being able to provide care. We worry about failing. At the same time, being a carer can mean extraordinary shared conversations and experiences - even if these are few and far between. These insights, strong feelings of being connected, and moments of shared joy, impact very positively on our mental health.
 

Q. Is there enough awareness in the workplace of the mental health impact on carers?
A. Workplaces need a fairly sophisticated understanding of what it is to be a carer in order to be aware of the impact on mental health. Generally, supportive workplaces are better at understanding the practical side of being a carer - needing time off work to take someone to a health appointment, for example. They're not always so aware of how being a carer can make you feel, and the impact this can have on your mental health - especially if the caring role goes on for a long time.

Q. Do UK bosses do enough to ensure that vulnerable carers are supported at work?
A. Some UK bosses are great; but there's a lot happening between now and 2020 that should mean all UK bosses get to be really good at supporting vulnerable carers at work. The Carers Action Plan, published by the Government in June 2018, sets out work being carried out across government departments over the next 2 years. For employers, the Department for Work and Pensions is working with Business in the Community to share existing best practice of carer policies and practices. The Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy is considering additional employment rights for carers; and by July 2018, the Department of Health and Social Care, together with Employers for Carers, will have finished piloting a carer-friendly employer benchmarking scheme. Read about it here.
 

Q. Do you have any tips for carers on how to look after their own mental health?
A. One really important thing is to acknowledge that all the extra kind, supportive, and helpful things that you are doing for someone you care about means you are a carer, and start using the word 'carer' especially when you are trying to find out about help. The charity MIND has a really good booklet about looking after your mental (and physical) health as a carer. All the usual good health advice applies: a good diet; enough sleep; time outdoors; some form of exercise, something you enjoy doing with people you enjoy being with. Having some kind of break from the caring role is really important too. The two main carers' charities in the UK - Carers UK, and Carers Trust - both have a lot of information (online, and through telephone helplines) for carers, including about working whilst caring. Carers Trust also has details of the network of local carers centres around the UK. Both charities run online forums, where you can (anonymously, if you prefer) talk to other carers about how you feel, or ask advice from people who may be in the same boat as you. And it's incredibly important to cut yourself some slack: make sure you give yourself some credit and some praise. You are doing something incredible.

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How we're improving mental health at Direct Line Group - Simon Linares

We are all individual and unique, but something we have in common is how important our wellbeing is to our health, happiness and ability to do our jobs successfully. Mental Health is at the heart of our Wellbeing Strategy and we are delighted to be partnering with This Can Happen so that mental health continues to be at the forefront of Direct Line Group's agenda.

We all know what it’s like to feel stressed – it’s part of everyday life. But when you’re overwhelmed by stress it may lead to mental health problems or make existing problems worse.

Stress is not a mental health problem itself. The stress response is a survival strategy to keep us safe. However, researchers have found that when stress becomes a way of life - rushing from pillar to post - this increases our risk of addictive and destructive behaviour, of developing anxiety, depression and other mental health problems. It can also increase risks of physical health problems including heart disease, insomnia, muscle pain and damages our immune system...the list goes on. In one of life's bitter ironies, our stress response - which has done so much to keep us alive - now threatens to drastically reduce the quality of our lives.

Stress, depression and mental health issues are unfortunately increasingly common in the UK. At Direct Line Group, we give colleagues immediate access to free and confidential support, with professional, independent and impartial information and counselling. Staff can talk to our external provider about any issue including stress, work issues, finances, family or personal crisis or anything else that is on their mind.

We also have information and training available on our intranet on stress awareness, bereavement and managing workloads.

It is a difficult issue but it’s one we are trying to tackle by forging an approach that recognises our responsibility to each other, and makes mental illness an everyday concern for all of us. This includes offering mental health awareness training for people managers, our colleague day focused on mental health and wellbeing later this year and launching mental health first aiders - we are aiming to have at least one mental health first aider on every floor of every building.

This is also another opportunity to raise both the importance of open and honest conversations and the importance of making time for colleagues around you in the workplace. Work can have a positive or negative effect on mental health and wellbeing, and it matters to me, and all of Direct Line Group’s leadership team that we can to be a place where everyone can be themselves and feel supported.

We're not all the way yet but we're serious about getting better, and the great news is that everyone's enthusiasm and keenness to get involved is definitely there.

I'm proud to work for a business that is trying to lay the foundations for us all to feel comfortable having open, honest conversations and sharing stories about important subjects like mental health.

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Jonny Benjamin – Why This Can Happen had to Happen

It’s here! The blog you’ve all been waiting for - a Q&A with our inspirational co-founder Jonny Benjamin MBE, whose journey from severe struggles with depression to becoming one of the UK’s leading mental health activists, has hit the headlines and played a game-changing role in the world of corporate wellbeing. Alongside Neil Laybourn, Jonny has spent almost a decade consulting with companies about how to identify staff members facing mental health struggles and how to help them. Jonny spoke to us about his passion, his work and his driving ambition to make British workplaces altogether healthier and happier places to be.

  1. What inspired you to devise This Can Happen?

Neil and I have campaigned for years and we’ve noticed lots of good things happening but not in a widely effective way. People seem to be working towards the same objective but not sharing information. The initiatives are often quite isolated and take place in that business alone and nowhere else and we felt it was crucial to bring everyone together and share best practice. Neil’s more daring than I am. He came up with the idea on a train 9 months ago and as soon as I started throwing questions at him, he had compelling answers to every challenge – and so here we are – organising the biggest corporate mental health conference the UK has seen.

  1. Why do you think corporate organisations have trouble supporting staff with mental health issues?

It’s a question we often reflect on. There’s a lot of fear and lack of education. We didn’t grow up talking about mental health at school or at home and we simply don’t have the language. There are so many misconceptions which create real barriers and even if the will is there people ask ‘where do we start?’ Hopefully TCH will raise awareness and encourage understanding, support and empathy. We’ve seen a big change in the fields of law and insurance, they’re really on the ball, but other industries are falling behind. There’s no perfect formula but this is what we hope the conference will achieve.

  1. Are there any businesses that are currently exemplary in the way they look after staff with mental health struggles? Can you give examples of how they do this?

Barclay’s launched the This Is Me campaign where staff members shared their stories by video on the staff intranet and it really took off. The videos became the most watched and most shared video content on the intranet. The project had a real impact and helped other businesses come forward. This Is Me has now been adopted by lots of other companies and has paved the way for really positive change. The ripple effect is incredible. When one person comes forward by talking openly about their challenges, others do too. And when one company tackled the issue head on, others followed suit. These are the hardest barriers to break down and Barclays has succeeded. We plan to help others follow in their footsteps.

  1. Did you always plan to take this route in life or did your own struggles with mental health take you on this journey?

No not at all. I dropped out of uni and then I worked for a production company making TV shows. We made films about mental health and hearing other people’s stories and their struggles helped me to realise that I wasn’t alone and it ignited my passion in the subject. I had enormous difficulty with work due to mental health issues. Much of work is based on performance and I didn’t want anyone to see I was struggling so I didn’t say anything to anyone. My own lived experience of trying to cope day to day made me want to do more to help people solve their problems. So often at the end of a talk someone comes up to us and tells us that they’re battling mental health problems but no one knows about it. It’s sad and frustrating and I really want to help.

  1. What's next for TCH?

We are definitely going to go global. This is a world-wide problem. Neil and I have done a lot of work in the US and we’re amazed that they are much further behind the UK than you would expect form a culture that likes to talk. It seems they like to talk about everything but their innermost feelings. There’s so much to tackle globally in terms of awareness. Europe is also not great. There’s so much work to do, it’s a mammoth task. We want to do what the LGBT group has done. They have set a brilliant example by forging a path to awareness and tolerance throughout the world. Now you have an insight into the origins of TCH and the inspiration behind it. Register your delegation now to meet Jonny and Neil at TCH is November!

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Mental health in the workplace

We’ve worked hard on raising awareness – now let’s find practical solutions

That awkward moment when your colleague walks out of the office in tears and, English to the core, heads down, everyone pretends they haven’t noticed. And then she comes back in with swollen eyes yet still, no one approaches her to ask what’s wrong or if there’s anything they can do to help. Why do we pretend nothing’s wrong? We’re not cold or heartless, nor is she a stranger to us, but we’re scared. Terrified. Frightened that she may be upset by an emotional issue, or worse, a mental health problem. If she had sprained her ankle or trapped her finger in the door, everyone would have rushed to her side, but why can’t we cope with helping people with their feelings?

Physical problems can be solved but matters of the mind….it’s something that many of us can’t cope with because we don’t understand it. It’s not unique to British culture but it’s certainly more prevalent here than in many other countries. We simply don’t feel comfortable talking about mental health, and until that changes, our embarrassment and indifference will continue to prove a dangerous barrier to improving the lives of those we care about. Dangerous may feel like a melodramatic word, but it’s a fact. A kind word or reassuring smile to those suffering from low self-esteem or depression can make the difference between a good day and a bad day. And a bad day for someone facing mental health challenges can be pretty rough.

The road to enlightenment about mental health problems in the workplace is a long one. But identifying colleagues that you’re worried about, and talking to them, making them feel comfortable around you and showing support, is a really amazing start. And we’re here to help. Heard the one about the guy who was about to throw himself off Waterloo Bridge when a total stranger saved his life? Yep, that’s us. Neil and Jonny. The guys who go around the country talking to businesses about the best ways to spot colleagues in trouble and offer them support. A decade after fate thrust us together we have found ourselves as well established ‘mental health in the workplace’ experts. Together with Zoe Sinclair of Employees Matter, we’ve decided to consolidate our experience with a one-day conference in London, where expert speakers will address delegations from corporates across various sectors, about mental health at work. We will be having conversations that haven’t happened before, answering nitty-gritty questions about the role of technology in relation to our mental health, suicide, and other urgent and relevant subjects. 

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This Can Happen 2020

Join the online event on 23 - 25 November 2020 for the biggest online workplace mental health conference.

BOOK NOW

This Can Happen was a game changer for me. I left feeling inspired and energised, armed with practical advice and best-in-class case studies about how to create mentally healthy workplaces.

Nick Jemetta, Chair – Mental Health & Wellbeing Group, Sainsburys