My vision is to see the mental health of society dramatically improved.
I wish to start a debate about how we can all bring about a seismic
change in mental health.
My mission is to produce a book that:
helps employers empathise with and manage employees with mental health issues
identifies barriers and limiting factors to good mental health, that challenges convention where necessary, and that presents new thinking and ideas, especially at a national policy level
generates an income for a charity that supports the mental, as well as the physical health, of its beneficiaries - Cavell Nurses’ Trust.
Some people have asked me what experience and qualifications I have in workplace mental health. The question, along with its answer, requires thought.
Does the question relate to lived experience? Or to workplace mental health law and law enforcement? Or to psychiatry and psychology? Or to workplace mental health management methods and standards (ISO 45003 is due out in 2021)? Or to occupational health as it relates to mental health? Or to therapies, such as eco-therapy. Or to training, such as resilience and mental health first aid? Or to interventions such as yoga and mindfulness? Or to the impact upon mental health of environmental workplace design? As is evident, this is a good question. It’s a BIG question. Are any of us experts in all these aspects of workplace mental health? Each of us may have some expertise. Most of us will have areas of weakness.
Consider this. If two people witness the same traumatic scene, they may react differently. They may suffer different symptoms, undergo different treatments and take different lengths of time to recover. Does that mean one person’s lived experience is more valid than the other's? There will be lessons to learn from each person’s experience. Here, we should think that instead of learning just one thing, we have learnt two. Now, when others witness the same traumatic scenes, have an adverse reaction and need our help, we can anticipate and be prepared for two scenarios, not just one. We are wiser for the two different experiences, not poorer for it. Both lived experiences were valid.
This is how I like to think of my book; as being complementary to what others think and do. I aim to identify thought-provoking insights that support workplace mental health leaders. These leaders will, of course, do their own research and have their own thoughts. They may, hopefully, wish to consider my contribution.
So, to answer the question, 'What do I know about workplace mental health?', I know what I have experienced. I know what I have experienced as a leader. I know what people with lived experience have told me. I know what expert advisors have told me. I know what I have read. And I know what I think. Some of this wide-ranging knowledge, understanding and thinking has been presented in How to Become a Mental health Leader Within the Workplace.
To answer the question more directly, I possess the following experience and qualifications:
Former Executive Leadership Team (ELT) member of £400m turnover UK company
Leadership of a team with 1,000 people in the reporting line
Two Master’s degrees (including a Master’s Degree in Business Administration (MBA))
NEBOSH National General Certificate in Occupational Health and Safety
Each of us likes to think we are far more than our CV suggests. So do I.
Based on this experience and qualifications, you might not be surprised to find the book addressing: workplace mental health and the law, health and safety as it relates to mental health, governance and compliance, strategy, culture, management systems, communication and employee engagement, and much more. My own research, interviews with people living with mental health issues and input from employment lawyers adds additional substance to the text.
I wrote How to Become a Mental Health Leader Within the Workplace for several reasons.
Firstly, as a former senior manager, I have seen first-hand how organisational leaders wrestle with the subject of workplace mental health, brushing it under the carpet, avoiding the subject and even mistreating colleagues. I wanted to set down some constructive ideas about how workplace mental health can be managed, helping leaders approach the subject proactively and positively. I wrote How to Become a Mental Health Leader Within the Workplace based on what I would want my managers to know and do if I were their leader. I wanted organisational leaders to be able to give this book to their management teams, along with the request that they use it to help develop a strategic, structured and systematic way of managing workplace mental health. With the aid of my book, management teams should be able to do just that.
Secondly, although originally intending to write a dissertation, my research identified issues that troubled me: people who disclose a mental health condition at work being routinely fired; some occupations suffering far higher than average rates of PTSD; and contradictory laws that confuse employers and fail to protect employees. When I stood back and looked at the workplace mental health landscape, it appeared uncoordinated and uncontrolled. A stronger sense of strategic direction was called for. A more equitable employer-employee mental health relationship was required. A book seemed more appropriate than a dissertation.
How to Become a Mental health Leader Within the Workplace is perhaps naïve, but also ambitious, misguided but innovative, limited but also expertly informed. It is a cornucopia; a mental health melange, based on lived experience, extensive research, leadership and management skills, academic understanding and legal expertise. It seeks to provide an insightful, challenging and sometimes opinionated view of workplace mental health. Most of all, this book aims to be thought-provoking. It also aims to provide a foundation upon which you can build, helping you to become a mental health leader within your workplace.