Mad World II Review
12th February, 2020
The first Mad World Summit in 2018 was a big success. The
culture around mental health was changing and employers came together to talk
about why it matters and what they can do about it. It was the start of
something special and a positive energy flowed through every session and
A year later and wellbeing events are all the rage but I am
pleased to say it was not a case of ‘second conference syndrome’ – Mad World still
has the wow factor. This was due to interesting speakers, an engaged audience
and positive media coverage.
I was impressed by HSBC Chief Executive Ian Stuart and always
enjoy listening to Dame Carol Black. The comedian Ruby Wax was the star
attraction. I was moved by her mental health journey and her commitment to
breaking the stigma.
The Thriving at Work panel highlighted some worrying
statistics – 39% of employees have experienced poor mental health where work
was a contributing factor, and 50% of employees due to causes outside of work. You
don’t come to work expecting to be physically harmed, so why should you be
mentally injured? Workload, bullying, harassment, loneliness, how people are
managed, financial worries and the increased risk of emotional distress for
minority groups reminded the audience that breaking the mental health stigma
does not solve the triggers.
Fiona Cannon OBE from Lloyds Banking Group stressed the
importance of listening to people and knowing how to respond if they tell you they
have a mental health condition. The key takeaway point from the discussion was ‘What
gets measured gets managed’ so employers need to measure the impact of
interventions on the health and wellbeing of employees and make evidence-based
decisions on how to make work good for them.
When CIPD’s Chief Executive Peter Cheese spoke about the
‘always on culture’, it made me visualise work as an escape room. We have to
work together to solve the riddles to workplace wellbeing, preventing burnout
and enjoying our freedom. But our office is always in our pocket with pings,
rings and reminders to keep us chained. There is still a lot of work to do and
multiple lenses magnifying the different aspects of the journey. Being part of
the Mad World movement will help you plot your direction of travel.
my press pass
I received a press pass for Mad World and I was busy
interviewing speakers and participating in roundtable discussions to soak up
the experience. I missed a number of interesting sessions but the amount of
media coverage the event attracted meant I could absorb the key information.
Once again, excellent PR by the organisers.
It was an honour to interview Claire Walsh, Head of
Occupational Health and Wellbeing at BAE Systems, whose key points about
wellbeing communication were know your audience and how to engage with them;
respect has to go both ways between managers and staff; and don’t become too
reliant on buzz words as they can be misleading and not reflect what is
happening in the workplace.
I turned my interview with Lou Banks from Rise HR into an HR
Zone article Mental
health at work: giving men a voice. I plan to turn my other interviews into
articles later in the year.
I would like to say a big thank you to Peppy Health which
helps organisations support employees going through key life transitions
including fertility, early parenthood and menopause. You found me in the media
room and described me as an “influential blogger”, which made me feel good. I
wish you all the best in helping organisations improve menopause support in the
workplace. And all the best to the training provider Mental Health Aware UK,
following the impressive demonstration of your e-learning courses.
I interviewed Dr Shaun Davis from Royal Mail about his book
‘Positive Mental Health’ which he co-authored with Andrew Kinder from Optima
Health. You can read the review
here. I am now reviewing other books
by LID Publishing. Maybe, one day, I will write my mental health book.
Mind Chief Executive Paul Farmer said about Mad World, “If
we tried to arrange an event like this 10 years ago, no one would have turned
up.” The fact there were so many people at this year’s event is proof that
employers care and want to make a difference. I look forward to next year’s
Summit to find out if they have.
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Paul Carter is a Senior HR Consultant at Civil Service Employee Policy in London. He has worked in HR for five years after spending 10 years in communications and committee management. He is CIPD qualified and writes HR blogs to encourage debate on how to make the world of work a better place. Writing and running help him manage his mental health and he is determined to raise awareness of what living with Pure OCD is like. He is always interested in meeting new people and exploring new opportunities.