We’re still in the dark about the full impact the last 18 months has had on our mental health, but the chances are that juggling home schooling with work, blurred boundaries between home and work life, isolation and loneliness and increased workload for our key workers will at some point take its toll. In this episode of The Global Safety Podcast the panel discuss mental health at work. With Sandra Kerr CBE, Dr Olivia Swift, Neil Laybourn, Carlo Caponecchia and BBC Radio 1’s Dr Radha, Tom Heap explores the main causes of mental ill health at work and learns how businesses can culture-build to make their workplaces a safe place for their staff.
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Carlo: One of the common outcomes is affecting people’s sleep increasing experiences of anxiety and fear
Neil: I had witnessed him attempting to take his life
Sandra: 29 % of black women in any one week would report a common mental health disorder and I remember at the time being really shocked
Neil: Bullying still exists, I see it, people confide in me that it happens a lot
Tom: It feels like we’ve come a long way in the past few years with a big push from mental health charities, celebrities and campaigners to raise awareness of these issues and get us talking about what's going on in our heads. But then the covid-19 pandemic hit us with a blow not just to our physical health, but also a complete upheaval in our daily lives and the knock-on effect on many people's mental health. Throughout the world, covid has exacerbated the pressures of work, income and balancing family life. So today, we're going to look at how our jobs are affecting our mental health. We'll explore the different pressures of a range of industries and ask who is most at risk and why? And as ever, figure out some solutions. How can we make sure our minds stay healthy on the job? Welcome to the Global Safety podcast from Lloyd's Register Foundation.
So let me introduce today's panel, we have Sandra Kerr CBE, race equality director, business in the community. Dr Olivia Swift, senior programme manager at Lloyds Register Foundation. Neil Laybourn, Mental Health and Wellbeing speaker and the subject of the Channel four documentary Stranger on the Bridge we’ll hear that story in a moment. And Carlo Capponecchia, an academic focusing on human factors and safety and also president of the International Association on Workplace Bullying and Harassment, he joins us from Sydney, Australia. Welcome to you all. Thank you so much for joining me. First, if we could just hear from you, Neil. I know this is a story which you are familiar with and some may be out there, but it gets no less poignant the more times I hear it. For the benefit of those who don't know your story, would you mind telling me how you got involved in mental health?
Neil: So on that particular day, if I if I take you back, it's the 14th of January 2008 and cold, horrible, miserable, rainy day in London as we all experienced. And like me and everybody else on the bridge, I was just trying to get to work as quick as possible. And I got wellmy day got interrupted by the vision of this guy sitting on the side of the railings and freezing cold in jeans and a T-shirt. Yeah. Seconds away from from going into the Thames. I had witnessed him attempting to take his life on Waterloo Bridge on the way to work. And and I stopped and spoke and we talked. I then introduced myself. And then I started to call the station. Neither of us were expecting to collide that day. And it was all it was all haphazard. It was all instinctive. It was all just very in the moment. But the conversation lasted maybe half an hour. And we were eventually the police came and intervened. And and I genuinely thought in that moment I would never see that guy again. It's one of these one of these moments you have in life. And lo and behold, six years later, after interaction, this this guy, Johnny had made this amazing recovery, which, by the way, is not that common with his diagnosis and I can talk about that later, schizophrenia, you know, it's not that common to make recovery. He did when he felt better. He wanted to reach out. He wanted to find this person who had stopped in that day and say thank you. And luckily, I was still kicking around London. I was running I was running a fitness business in Covent Garden. And I saw the campaign money, you know, but he thought when I was like, so we the fight my campaign so globally trended on Twitter and everybody was looking for Mike. So that wasn't a great start. But somehow cutting through the noise, I yeah, I realised it was me and I came forward and and like I said, that moment that we met for the second time in 2014, which was the ending to the to the documentary Stranger on the Bridge, was caught on camera. And it was it was really powerful. And it was the catalyst for me starting to understand mental health in a way that I'd never had done before.
Tom: And since then, you've been working in this area, doing what?
Neil: I convene conversations. I try and learn as much as I can through the collaborations that I work on in mental health, whether that's an ambassador relationship with a mental health charity, whether it's collaborating through an event that gathers people together, whether it's a podcast like this where I can use the stranger in the bridge bridge story to have a conversation about suicide, to normalise that conversation, it’s to continually, continually advance that conversation, to keep learning and then to keep keep those ideas circulating.
Tom: Well, thank you very much for that. And it is still a very, very striking story. Well, let's broaden out to a question I’d like really, everybody gets a response to the five day forty plus hour work week, that was the kind of know where most of us went into a workplace until a year and a half ago and spent a good deal of time there. Is that sort of rigorous, structured work, 40 hours plus, is it good or bad for our mental health? Sandra Kerr?
Sandra: I have to say that I think that is that that is the past. I think people have, many have moved into multiple kind of different rhythms, new ways of working. We've had to because times have changed and we know that there is research that I think it's one percent of employees saying that actually, I feel that my work is contributing to my stress and mental health. So I think. It's time to treat workers as adults. So let's focus on the outputs and provide clarity and enable those who wants to work in the middle of the night, who wants to work in the afternoon, who doesn't want to do that as long as customer service is maintained. We produce all the outputs that you need and allow people to work from coffee shops, from the park, who cares as long as delivering great service of great outputs.
Tom: Carlo Caponecchia what do you think? You think this kind of structured 40 hour plus week is a problem necessary?
Carlo: I think it's really about horses for courses and finding out what works for different people in different jobs. There might be some jobs in some industries that need that kind of structure, and there might be some people who prefer that kind of structure as well. But as Sandra was saying, it's about choice and control. We know that a lack of control is one of the most important stressors at work. One of the things that organisations are supposed to do is think about ways of providing people with additional control over how they work, when they work, where they work. And now there's no excuse. We've proven that we can do it. And so being able to afford people flexibility and the opportunity to make choices, as Sandra said, is is a really important way of improving your mental health strategy.
TOM: I get the feeling that control and choice is going to be a key factor in whether in this whole mental health argument, whether you kind of feel empowered or you feel pushed around.
Carlo: That's right, but we know that giving people more control also makes them more satisfied, more committed, likely more productive. So it's kind of a win win.
TOM: Olivia, what do you think about the formatted week as it was at least until a couple of years?
Olivia: So we know that working way too much is obviously bad for everyone. So there has to be limits that are statutory. But beneath that, certain flexibility is absolutely key and is also right that different types of work affect different types of people in different ways in terms of happiness and well-being. So it's obviously not as black and white as the question posed. And the other I suppose the other point I'd really keen to make is that, of course, we're talking about formal workplaces here and in parts of the world where we're privileged enough to be able to have these kinds of conversations. But even in those even in our own lives, speaking for myself, I'm a I'm a lone parents work full time. My labour isn't just the work I do for my organisation. It's everything else I do. So for me, in terms of well-being, the question is the whole picture is like how how am I managing all the different types of work I do? Similarly, for an informal worker in some parts of the world, doing very different type of work to the work I do, you know, it's the same question is the whole person's work and where the responsibility lies for their well-being in relation to those different aspects.
Tom: Carlo in the last, I don't know, 10, 15 years, maybe once they get up to up to pre- covid, how had the pressures in the workplace changed in relation to mental health?
Carlo: Some of the main changes I think were around technology. They're probably the ones that that people are most aware of. So technology of always being able to be at work when you're not at work. So with phones and emails and Teams and all the other programmes that we can just get pinged on all the time. Now, I think that's probably the most noticeable one.
Tom: And what should have been liberating, but turned out to be rather imprisoning.
Carlo: Yes. Yes, exactly. It should have enabled work to be done flexibly, which it has in the last 18 months. But what those things have done is that workload goes up, pressure goes up, expectations go up because you can always squeeze in that extra email.
Tom: It's interesting, this is a bit of a sort of flyer thought for me, but in the same period that we've been talking about, in some respects, we've seen a power draining away from the working man and woman. We've seen less power of the unions. We've seen to some extent sort of respect for the for the worker decrease. And we've seen that arguably manifested in a number of sort of political outcomes as well. I'm wondering if alongside control being having some kind of control over your daily work, helps your mental health. I'm wondering if also being respected as an important member of the workforce and society, whether that's important, your mental health as well. I don't know if anybody wants to pick up that point? Sandra?
Sandra: I think the next tug of war, to your point about respect that I think we're moving into is the whole discourse and multiple discourses about what next? What are we doing next? What does the future look like? I'll be going back to what was or are we going to listen to individuals, I think really listening and actually enabling employers to have respect in that. Actually, yes, you do have a life. You do matter. Your wholeness matters to me. So let's listen. And you have produced very well in the last 18 months or whatever your your productivity hasn’t gone down. So let's talk about the future. So I think there is definitely something about respecting voice and contributions from employees.
Tom: We’ve got to remember about zero hours economy as well and how that growing form of work affects mental health. Olivia? Carlo?
Olivia: There is a change in the social contract between employers and employees, which predates it, but has been exacerbated by climate in which the separation between work and the rest of life, which was always somewhat false anyway, has been blurred. It was blurred by technology is being blurred, particularly by all of us who now remote work. It's very hard for managers to distinguish between work related stress and home related stress when we're in this sort of situation and there's an increasing rhetoric around bringing your whole self to work, which is great, but it's sort of interesting, you know, so we workers may not have the sort of union presence and power that they had, but it's almost as if well-being and stress and words to act as passwords, to talk about what we expect of our employers and employees. And it's a bit of a grey area because everything seems sort of softer and more accommodating. But at the same time, ultimately we’re still employees, we still have contracts to give us chunks of all time to an organisation or whatever in that formal setup so it can only go so far. So I think we're in a transitional period, but there is there is a shift there.
Tom: And just briefly, Olivia, you work in the maritime area yourself, are there specific issues affecting maritime? Obviously, we saw some terrible thing for for sailors during during covid being trapped on ships for months on end. But but generally, all there some pressures within within the ocean going industry?
Olivia: The work is dangerous and physically demanding. So it's extreme in that sense, but it's also very isolated socially. You're away from family and friends for a long time. The crews are often multicultural and have limited cohesion. Of course, you can't leave work. At the end of the day, there's a big issue with fatigue and workload and increasing bureaucracy. Seafarers risk of being criminalised for mistakes in a way that other workers aren't as exposed to. Bullying and harassment can be a problem at sea, all sorts of other things. And that's, of course, painting a very negative scenario of seafaring. And there are many, many positives and that is intentionally provocative. But you're right that they do face certain challenges but it's the end of a spectrum.
Tom: Carlo you have bullying, harassment, sort of within your title. Talk to me how to me through how that relates to mental health.
Carlo: we should remember, of course, that health is just health. Right, mental health is just part of health. And one of the things I'd really like to see as a step to get to that point where we don't have to really talk about health and mental health, but we just talk about health. But how does bullying affect people's health? Well, we know there's a whole range of effects. One of the the common outcomes is affecting people's sleep, increasing experiences of anxiety and fear. People often have behaviours around avoidance. Interestingly, one of the most common symptoms is people feeling nauseous on the way to work. Now, that seems strangely specific, but it comes up so often. People get headaches. They can start using alcohol and other drugs more. (not sure we use this)
Tom: Neil I wanted to pick up that point that Carlo made about health being health, I mean, you came from the physical health background. You were in the running gyms. You presumably see that see that continuum pretty clear.
Neil: Yes, absolutely. I think if you take that environment, when somebody walks into the door of a gym, then you're met instantly with a positive connotation about your physical health. You're not shown you not invited to have conversations about the worst case scenario. People on people aren't talking about. They do talk about the problems they need to fix, but they ultimately talk more, I found more in the fitness environment, people talk are more weighted towards the attainment to where they want to get to that. Let me just visualise that, OK, and talk about fitness the six pack, the you know, the l the the dress that they want to wear, you know, fitting in the suit, you know, losing the spare tire. And, you know, there's such a I can do this. I walked in here, I can do this, I can get there in 12 and 14 weeks.
TOM: Olivia I was going to come to you anyway yes make your point?
Olivia: One of the other things that's changed over time and again, probably exacerbated during covid as well, is that leadership, good leadership is now recognised to includes the softer skills, the that openness, the ability to bring that out in others and so forth. So I think that's one thing that's definitely changed, which is great. And that would also in relation to physical and mental health and wanted to just talk about health. I'd really also like to see that in the space of occupational safety and health practise in workplaces. So for Lloyd's Register Foundation and for Lloyd's, which is the group that really a goal, that's psychological well-being is as much a part of health and safety as physical health.
TOM: And I can see everyone on the panel nodding at that, which is really interesting, so that it and I know from working within big organisations that everything gets a health and safety assessment on it. Everything that I do pretty much. But none of that really is about mental wellbeing at the moment, is it?
Olivia: I mean, there is an obligation in relation to mitigating and managing stress, but I’ll let Carlo pick up..
Carlo: Yeah, they're in in various jurisdictions and in different parts of the world. There are different legal obligations around not just supporting people who may be experiencing mental ill health, but preventing the scenarios, the contributing factors that might relate to those outcomes. But the other thing is that we have some really important developments in about making sure that mental health, psychological health is part of occupational health and safety. So we have a new international standard on this on psychological health at work, ISO forty five thousand and three, that the numbers are not always very useful, but it's a new international standard on psychological health that puts a real focus on making sure that psychological health is embedded in the in the normal safety management system that organisations already have. So it's it's really getting it embedded in everyday practises.
Tom: And these ISO things, they do matter do they? They do kind of filter down into individual companies and individual companies.
Carlo: They do, because while you don't have to comply with the standard, a lot of organisations find that in order to get work, in order to get a work contract, there's a contractual obligation to use those and abide by those standards. So they are actually very important.
Tom: Now, Olivia Lloyd's Register Foundation recently funded a report by Nottingham Trent University, I think looking at psychological well-being at work in five crucial sectors. Can you tell me what you found?
Olivia: So we know it's well documented that productivity benefits from good psychological well-being, but there's less out there on the impact on safety of either poor mental health or good mental health. So we wanted to look at five key sectors relating to critical infrastructure, which were maritime, energy, construction, engineering, food and digital. So quite diverse in some ways and to examine the policy literature, the academic literature, to see what the consensus was around that relationship. And I think the key thing to say is that it's not actually the nature of the work itself. So it's not about how dangerous or physically demanding it is. It's about how workers feel about the work they do. And we talk in those terms around psychological, psychosocial factors, which are how different individuals in the workplace feel about different things. That are not structural per se that they're things like job security and satisfaction, workloads, lack of control, which we've talked about previously, unclear communication, repetitive work, stuff like that. And each type of work has its own set of psychosocial factors. So they're not the structural things, but they arise from structural things. So the way that work is organised, the human factors, expected behaviours that’s what gives rise to these sorts of psychosocial factors, that what influence how we feel about work, they in turn influence what we do and safety outcomes. (LIKE THIS A LOT) They produce a safety climate and that then feeds back and you have a basically a continuous feedback loop
Tom: and interesting that you would, by any means confined to the office sector. In fact, quite the reverse. An awful lot of these are more more physical jobs, more site jobs, be the engineering, food construction or things like that. Did you feel I'm interested to know whether you felt like the different sectors? Could they teach each other anything? Did you feel there were some things that maybe the the office sector was getting right, structures that it was one of those learnings here? Construction is very hot on health and safety. As as I say can one sector learn from another?
Olivia: It's always important for us to learn from other sectors, maritime likes to learn from aviation, for example, right so we know that's a holistic long term approach works. We have to get buy-in of people in the organisation. But getting the basics right is important.
Tom: Thank you for that, Olivia. Now we're going to hear from BBC Radio One medical and wellbeing expert, Dr. Radha, with some insights from her work as a doctor and mental health campaigner.
Dr Radha: So when we're talking about our mental health and wellbeing, there are so many different elements that feed into that say there are things like joy and hope and gratitude, but there's also purpose. And I think purpose is a really, really huge one as purpose drives us it’s what gets us out of bed in the morning is what takes us through difficult times, takes us through times of challenge or disillusionments in the world. If we can find our purpose and our reason for being here and our reason to get out of bed and our reason to do something then actually we're more likely to carry on doing and persevere through these times. To me, purpose really is about stepping back and thinking to yourself, what brings me joy? What makes me light up, what brings me fulfilment? What really makes me want to just get out of bed. It's a dynamic thing changes through our lives and our purpose will change according to our circumstances and what's going on with our lives and what we experience. But I think holding onto it, no matter what whatever is, is actually really important to give us structure keeps us going and really also it helps us be more of ourselves in the world.
Tom: And we'll hear a little bit more from Dr. Radha later on, but now let's address that 18 month old elephant in the room that is covid that hopefully won't live for a great deal longer. Sandra Kerr, what do you think the impact has been of covid on our mental health?
Sandra: when I think specifically about ethnic minority community, you've heard about the disproportionate impact of this contagion because of key workers. There's overrepresentation of black and Asian people in the NHS and social care and retail, all the frontline services. I think we've yet to see what the full impact has been because under the surface, we've touched on some of the challenges. But there are other disparities which have just been exacerbated. So if you're in that, how how a high housing cost situation, your home is unstable or if you are in zero hours or a kind of unstable work there. And also if you are in low paid work so you don't have that kind of financial cushion in which to. So what if the prices go up a bit? We can kind of cope with it. So I think there's lots of and we've seen major domestic violence as a whole range of that kind of an echo echoing and of impacts that we've yet to see the outcomes of. And also something that's on the surface that isn't really talked about. So we know schools have been you know, they've been on, they've been off. And we'll see impacts from the parents as well as the children. And if your children have challenges, you know, that's something another thing that adults of the parents will have to do to tackle and support. So I think there's a lot of them invisible impacts that we don't know about yet.
Tom: The key difference, surely, in the last 18 months has been this breakdown of the barrier between home and work that was maybe being filtered through a little bit in the previous days, but the barrier got blown apart Neil what do you think about that?
Neil: Nothing strikes home to me more than the disparity of sectors that have the luxury of having a better ride with covid now than every morning. I look at my window because it just so happens I'm having some building work done on my house. And on any given day I can have one, two, three or four, five builders turn up. I have been having conversations with them over the last six months of like the impact, like indirect conversations. And it's fascinating because I'm watching these guys who have no other choice but to do an operative job through the hours that their operation is open. They can't turn up earlier. They're not allowed to turn up later. And then I'm kind of trying to mirror that and thinking in my professional services world on the other side of the wall, I'm sitting there with my laptop having the choice whether to put up with my noisy kids or the luxury of going down to a nice, quiet cafe to do some work.
Tom: Carlo Caponecchia what I had observed within my largely office based work colleagues was that during covid they felt less in control, less appreciated and less able to turn off from work, and that those three things together put their minds under greater stress, sometimes with odd sight, ill health as a result. Is that common?
Carlo: I think that's it's very common. And my own experience of doing meetings all day back to back and not being able to get away from that computer because it's just a different way of working. Normally your meetings would be scheduled such that you had to physically move locations between meetings and you get a break because you've got to travel between them. So. So I think it is common, but I think we can often only think about the experience for the kinds of roles that we do and the kinds of roles that we're used to. And we have to challenge ourselves to think, because as as Neil was saying about other sectors and how it works for other workers doing other roles and other tasks.
Tom: But that's the thing I’m driving at we haven't had a person physically next to a lot of us for the last 18 months. But it seems to me that that is a critical part of our support. It may often be unspoken, but it was that we enjoy the the office social. Yes, I am talking about this is the moment. It's probably true on building sites. You work together with the office social. It seems to me it was important for our mental health. And I'm interested to know going forward I’ll start this with Olivia you think we have to, when we think about it, build back up, whether we have to think carefully about that support structure and what it delivered.
Olivia: I think that we definitely need to consider the support going forward, the importance of actively encouraging social interactions and really importantly, the importance of quality line management. We know that that's a huge factor in well-being in relation to workplaces.
Tom: Well, Sandra, you are the race equality director for business in the community. What impact what relevance does racism have when it comes to mental health?
Sandra: OK, In twenty seventeen, when then Prime Minister Theresa May kind of establish this racist disparity unit. And they they published a report in 2017 that said that twenty nine percent of black women in any one week would report a common mental health disorder. And that was from a survey that was run in 2014. And I remember at the time being really shocked at the statistic
Tom: just let me jump in a moment. That would be much higher than the national average.
Sandra: Yeah, it's it's twenty nine percent. So it's 21 percent for white women. Twenty three for Asians. Black women, you know, far away, higher than everybody else so almost one in three. And when you think about when I know that in the black community, there's kind of a taboo on mental health. So those are the ones who've actually gone and presented to. So this was something that was frightening. And I knew it was a challenge. And when I think about if that was pre covid, yes, it's 2014 and we know there's never been a campaign is been focus to tackle or support women's mental health. What would the impact of covid be doing now? And just some things that we've been forced to think about is every time there's an economic downturn, black and Asian people are hit harder and it takes longer to recover. So, for example, when we had a question twenty two thousand eight in 2010, 60 percent of the people had no savings at all. So think about this kind of disruption on income levels. And then when you think about we talked about unstable work were more likely to be in the lower ready at lower levels. So there's a huge kind of economic impact. And then particularly, again, thinking about black women, for example, every time you hear in the media about some disparity where maybe a black male has been stopped and searched or something, tasered or whatever, remember, they have mothers, sisters, aunts, cousins. So there is an invisible impact and echo effect of when all of those disparities, you know, there was a disparity on those who were fined and those who were arrested and those who footsore even been out Long Covid and, you know, even challenges around who's been to be sectioned. So there's a lot of invisible impacts that contribute to mental health
Tom: A lot of ethnic minorities, particularly women, work in customer facing jobs, in transport, retail, stuff like that. Is there actually an issue of facing abuse and the effect that an effect that can have on them?
Sandra: Absolutely. And one of the things I have noticed, and this is even trickle covid. So I remember and it's my job to notice so that's why I would notice transport. And in the NHS there were posters and sometimes in finance as well that they put up saying, don't abuse our staff, please end the tubes. And I know through the data that we collect that those cities have got the highest some of the highest levels of harassment. Surprisingly, education is in there, too, which is interesting that the very fact they the employers would put that, you know, put those posters online, put them in the public domain because they know there is a problem. So if you think about that happening to you because of something like ethnicity, which you're not going to change it, you don't get to pick it either. So you're kind of trapped and it is going to be what it is. And then if you think you're servicing customers and clients and that's your job and they you were kind of experiencing harassment from them, there's a whole feeling of being trapped. And I think that is contributes to people. Mental health. If you feel like this is difficult, I can't even see a way out of this.
Tom: And you have a toolkit with some solutions here. Just briefly.
Sandra: Yeah, yeah. We we see some funding. So our campaign was twenty five years old last year. The Prince of Wales Foundation gave us some money to work on a toolkit. So we work with some psychologists two black female psychologist, actually, because you were saying, well, if going to create a tool kit for women, let's get. Some women will have the experience and we put a toolkit for managers and one for individuals, so just something to help people with their own self care. Some ideas to think about. And it does come up with some practical ways that managers can help to kind of get their minds in the right headspace. And it does emphasise some of the words really heard here today about listening, giving voice, listening to understand and not having all the answers, but being willing to say, let's put our heads together and see what we're going forward.
Tom: Thank you very much indeed, Sandra. We're just going to hear again from Dr. Radha with some more insights from her work as an NHS GP and a wellbeing campaigner.
Dr Radha: We've really got to widen out the conversation that we have in society about feelings, because we still are living in this world of good and bad feelings and there are no such thing as good or bad feelings. There are there are more challenging feelings to feel and there are feelings that we don't necessarily like feeling. But they to me, they all have a purpose. They're all there for a reason. So, for example, you know, if you're feeling anxiety say, is that because something is going on at work? Is it because it's telling you that you need to get some more support or that perhaps you're out of your depth or telling you that you haven't necessarily got as much self belief as you should have? For example, so, behind every feeling, there's some kind of reasonable story for it being there. So instead of pushing them away, pushing them down because we don't want to feel them is much better, much healthier and much more useful, actually, to sit with them, get support with them if you need to, but also just try to understand why they're there and try to work with them rather than against them.
Tom: Well, we've heard a lot about some of the mental health issues and problems that can cause them or exacerbate them. And now many businesses are training up mental health first aiders, which is good news, but they are always sort of framing it all wrong to be sort of promoting good mental health as a sort of almost a preventative thing rather than a thing that comes in only when there's a problem. Carlo.
Carlo: Absolutely, the focus should be on prevention, so it's great to do mental health, first aid, but it's first aid, somebody already hurt. That's not where organisations are supposed to be working. Organisations have to control the sources of harm that they're responsible for, the sources of harm that are in their organisations, in their business. Such that they don't cause people harm so it takes a bit of a flip. We're really focussed on the tertiary strategies and we need to push back and say, yeah, good, good job, nice first step. But now think about the things that we were talking about around raw conflict, moral ambiguity, control, workload, better relationships, better supervision, bullying, harassment, of course, career development, professional development. Those are the kinds of things that organisations need to be focussing on as a way to start preventing these negative effects from people. (LIKE THIS A LOT)
Tom: Neil you meet a lot of these kind of organisations. Are they making this corner turn that Carlo would like to see?
Neil: Oh, so many. You know, in three or four years I've been in the private sector alone, brings about 300 organisations I would see the same thing over and over again. I see somebody who is in charge of a budget and they would say, we're going to we're going to train 5000 line managers across the media or something like that. And look, of course, that's great because you are providing some sort of blanket awareness, some scattergun approach that is hopefully going to filter down and help somebody who needs it. But at the same time, there's a pre-journey. That's what I uncovered quite early on, is there's a precursor to then the actual implementation of training, which you need to go through, and that's about culture building. We got invited in to talk about Stranger on the Bridge, a conversation about suicide and then that would open up people saying, hey, I've been affected like that or my partner has been affected by that. I care about this. Luckily, I've seen the culture change in a lot of places. And like I said, it is the disparity between sectors. The professional service sector has been doing this kind of agenda for a lot of years and they're getting it right most of the time. They pretty good handle on how to look after well-educated people who make graduate step into a professional services environment. And to be honest, they kind of do a good job of people. And I think a bit of empowerment and a bit of, you know, weeding out. I'm glad we've got bullying on this bullying still exists. I see it. People confide in me that it happens a lot. And hopefully as we replace, you know, the new leadership of tomorrow, the authentic people that care and empathise, bullying has no place. And we’re just left with understanding and empathy and non judgement in our work conversations. And that would be a great that that would be a future that I would like to see in the workplace. But yes, companies spend a lot of money on training and sometimes they get it wrong. And that's a shame.
Tom: Well, I've seen a figure. I think that mental health problems, I think it's from the World Health Organisation are reckoned to cost the global economy more than one trillion dollars each year. So it really does suggest that getting on top of this is not only good for the individual, but good for the business.
Olivia: Definitely, I think that's well documented that those sorts of figures tend to be around the the costs of mental ill health. There's equally plenty of evidence around the the the benefits of mental health.
Tom: Well, look, I just want to one up with a couple of if I can get a brief answer from all of you, I can use Sandra first. Can you give me an example of one sort of single thing you'd like to see change something we need maybe in the next five or 10 years that would really help in this space. Sandra, first of all,
Sandra: I mean, I'd like to see employers mainstream into the design of new ideas and have that question when they're going to introduce something. Is this how is this going to impact on employer mental health and how is it going to impact? The question and then do the design rather than OK, is terrible, so I think if we could get that mentality to say when we're going to introduce new things, we always pause and say, you know, when is this going to be?
Tom: And you sort of carry out a mental health audit along with the financial health safety of anything, you know. Neil Laybourn what would you like to see?
Neil: I would like to draw out a company's approach to conversational training around understanding the people in the team. And I think that would that would help massively. I think I would love just to always emphasise, like deep and meaningful conversations happening in the workplace can transform a culture.
Tom: And it is that should that conversation be focussed around some kind of mental health empathy? Is that the point?
Neil: I don’t think so it’s a conversation - great question - I don’t think people want to talk about their mental health every day, I think it's a conversation about getting to know people. You feel like you're connected and then and then there's trust. And then when you have trust people feel hey, you know what, I can receive that information because I trust that you'll bring it to me because you have to. And people feel like they can offload it and they can say, hey, I need to tell you this. And that is a journey that that is a journey. So the conversation is not about mental health. It's Hey, Tom, how are you? How many children do you have? Would you like to do the weekend? Tell me where do you buy your glasses. You know, it's it's these. Where do we fit these into the working day. That's what we need to change.
Tom: Olivia, anything you'd like to see?
Olivia: It’s sort of dry but the things I'd like to see change in order to get to that point are to do with the standards, the attempts, the legislation, the the better tools, the workplace monitoring. Better measuring practises, evaluation practises across organisations so that when we offer the plethora of choice that we're advocating for how people work and when and so forth, if we're able to support that in the long term by showing that it works and where there are problems and addressing those proactively.
Tom: Carlo, what would you like to see? And would you like to pick up Olivia’s point about law and regulation.
Carlo: Sure. So I guess the main thing I'd like to see is a shift towards organisations viewing mental health or psychological health as part of their health, safety and well-being responsibilities and as something that they manage as part of that existing system. As Neil said, there are organisations doing some good things, but we'd never hear about it. And that reduces our opportunity to learn from that. It never forms part of the record, if you like. And so encouraging a little bit more openness to to be brave and say we did these things to improve the management of mental health at work. They didn’t all work. But we evaluated them and we did our best and we're doing better is actually really powerful and very important when you think about how it's likely to be medium and large businesses that are going to be leading this and smaller businesses, which of course, there are many more need to learn from that and can be shown the way. (LIKE THIS A LOT)
Olivia: And following on from that, I just wanted to mention that the work we did with Nottingham Business School, it was Register Foundation, has led to a follow up piece of work that's doing exactly that. So we're we're taking stock of how organisations have supported organisations during covid, specifically in terms of their mental wellbeing. And we're looking to see which of those practises are sustainable in the long term and which have worked in order to share that. And we're not alone in doing that type of exercise, but that that kind of initiative is out there, which is a really positive step as well.
Tom: Well, thank you very much to all of you. I'm afraid that's all we've got time for the moment. But as we go forward and as we emerge from covid and work practises, both where we work and how we work are all very much up for grabs. It seems to me it will be such a good thing if a sort of wind of mental good health was helping the pieces to fall in the right place when we all get back to whatever the new normal is. So for now, I'd like to thank today's panel: Olivia Swift, Sandra Kerr, Neil Laybourn and Carlo Caponecchia. Please do join us next Sunday to join us next time for another conversation. You can just search for us at the Global Safety Podcast wherever you get your podcasts and follow or subscribe for free so that you don't miss an episode. Thank you.