Last Tuesday, November 20th, was a 2018 highlight, not only for me personally and the amazing This Can Happen team, but for companies across the UK who are now fully committed to putting workable strategies in place to help their staff and colleagues through mental health struggles.
It all began a year ago. I was approached by Jonny Benjamin MBE and Neil Laybourn, whose story had touched me and many others. I’m sure you’ve heard about the man who was about to end his life on Waterloo Bridge when a stranger walked by and talked him down? That was Jonny and the stranger was Neil. The pair are now mental health advocates and they raise awareness in corporates across the world.
They had an idea to create a workplace mental health conference and I jumped at the opportunity to work with them to make a difference.
We had a very ambitious dream to create the largest workplace mental health conference the UK has seen. We put together a team and started making inquiries about venues, speakers and sponsors, but we never envisaged the overwhelming impact of the event that took place last week.
My main role was to create the content. It was a privilege to engage with companies who were happy to talk through their mental health journeys – challenges as well as successes. We were determined that the 750 people in the room should represent a range of companies, big and small, and the content had to reflect that diversity.
From suicide at work to dealing with women going through the menopause, from the role of the line manager to rolling out a global strategy, each room was full of engaged people hoping to share their experiences and expand their mental health journey in their place of work.
And of course, the defining moment was when HRH The Duke of Cambridge joined us on stage. He was warm, friendly and totally engaged on the subject of mental health. He spoke openly and honestly about his struggle when his professional and personal life collided.
In a private session, he listened intently to personal experiences and gave support and guidance to his audience and his words left an indelible impression on everyone in the room.
All that’s left to do now is to watch as every one of the companies at the event takes back advice and strategies to the office and starts to implement real and lasting solutions to support their colleagues at every level of their organisation.
It was a day that exceeded all expectations. Engagement and intention was real and palpable and we are excited to start planning the next stage of the This Can Happen journey. Stay with us!