Let’s get rid of the fear – Let’s talk about mental health

Our first scheduled event of the year was thwarted by the erratic weather, so firstly thank you our speakers for being so candid with their own experiences, and secondly to Oath who were able to provide a venue at such short notice.

As part of the 2018 theme of ‘Investing in you’ dawn addressed the society taboo for both men and women of mental health. Sharing personal experiences, with a focus on how to create supportive working environments, reaching out to those who may be in need of support.

The statistics are stark with suicide being the largest killer for men under 45, and spending of £9.7 billion in mental health services. NABS is working to support everyone within the industry with practical support and a campaign to break the stigma around mental health. Lorraine Jennings, Director of Services and Talent at NABS discussed that we all must talk more about the prevalence as displayed through the statistics around mental health, in an attempt to normalise and encourage others to ask for help. Indeed, one in three people experience some form of mental health problem in the workplace. Lorraine advocates mental health ‘first aiders’ within business, who are trained by mental health charity MIND, who are a trained member of the any business who can be a first port of call for anyone experiencing issues

The focus from NABS in this area is in response to the statistics but also that we work in, and are surrounded by, industries which traditionally have not created environments that are conducive to well-being – always on, late nights, high stress, play hard, work hard cultures. Turku Zorlutuna, who gave up law to work as strategist in hospitality, discussed how emotionally draining these cultures are and how they tend to attract and perpetuate mental health problems; “the martyr to the long hours, and the stiff upper lip”. Turku said awareness was the first step to recognising and addressing mental in-balance; general de-motivation is a first indicator. If it happens don’t be afraid to notice it and then start thinking about where we can get support – your line manager, GP or friends and family.

Michelle Morgan, founder of Pjoys and Liverty, did her talk in a pair of Pjoys’s PJs and encouraged everyone to take their shoes off; she wanted it to be intimate and have a real conversion, as it’s only through doing so and showing vulnerability (hence the PJs) that we can talk about deeply personal experiences and thoughts.

Clare Sanderson is the UK editor of Women’s Health magazine she shared the increasingly common experience of having an outwardly perfect job and lifestyle, but crumbling on the inside. The stress that Clare was under lead to having significant anxiety and serve depression, which was characterised by excessive exercising and paranoid delusions. After taking sometime to recover she is now focused on promoting mental and physical health – “what goes in your guts impacts your mind” – and advocates a balanced diet, reducing sugar and regular exercise, especially team sports which provide a social as well as physical outlet.

As Clare encourages using sport in a mindful way, Turku and Michelle extolled the virtues of CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) as making a real difference to how they now cope with stress and what they see as the onset of mental health problems. Predominantly the messages from all was kindness and compassion, to yourself – “if you wouldn’t say it to a friend, don’t say it to yourself” and asking for help.

If you are in need of further support with your mental health there are a number of links to organisations on the dawn blog page. 



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