It’s not very often that attending a conference leaves such a buzz and positive energy amongst the participants. This is how it was at the This Can Happen Conference on Tuesday 20 November 2018, the inaugural corporate mental health event where companies address mental health in the workplace and highlight solutions and innovations to support the mental health of their colleagues and staff.
Over 750 Delegates from 120 companies were present to hear the warmest and informative welcome speech by the founders of This Can Happen, Zoe Sinclair, Neil Leybourn and Jonny Benjamin MBE.
This was followed by a series of innovative presentations and experimental workshops. With I in 4 employees experiencing mental health challenges this year, never has it been more important for companies to offer the right kind of support for their staff. Research shows that mental health challenges are the leading cause of work absence in the UK and can significantly impact on a person’s ability to grow and thrive at home and in the workplace.
The conference was honoured to have in attendance HRH the Duke of Cambridge, a passionate mental health campaigner. He joined a panel session facilitated by BBC News Presenter Tina Daheley and shared openly and movingly of his time working with the air ambulance service. How he was often involved with children dealing with life and death situations and families that were destroyed. The relation between the job and his family life took him ‘over the edge’. His Royal status gave him no immunity from these overwhelming feelings and he learnt to distance himself from the job in order to appreciate that this happens in his work life but not all the time and all around him. He really appreciated having his crew around him to debrief with give him the support he needed.
60 other speakers from a diverse range of companies and organisations all contributed emotionally and passionately about their own personal experiences. They offered knowledge and insights to provide solutions for workplace mental health.
Hopefully a Conference like this will help remove the stigma of having a mental health issue. There should be no difference in how mental illness is managed in the work place as with physical illness.
Lyssa Barber, founder of the mental health network at UBS, following her own breakdown believes passionately that “good levels of mental health and wellbeing are needed for everyone to really thrive and has seen the results in her company of putting in place meditation, mindfulness, quiet rooms and Mental Health First Aiders are all in the pipeline”
There is no doubt that businesses are waking up to the scale of poor mental health, but there is still a long way to go. Conferences like This Can Happen offer companies practical toolkits and solutions to take back to their work place. Hopefully the buzz and energy that permeated throughout the day will be carried back to companies and organisations. It will be vital to explore at the next This Can Happen Conference how companies have put some of these ideas into practice to make a real difference to the work place.