On the evening of the 26th February obo’s Director John Walters attended the launch event of reinsurance experts Guy Carpenter’s Mental Health, Wellbeing and Disability Group, an initiative to make Guy Carpenter a happier & healthier place to work.
The groups mission is to promote mental health & wellbeing, to challenge stigma & stimulate change within the workplace so employees can bring their whole-selves to work each day.
The evening was opened by Guy Carpenter Senior VP Valerie Badcock, founder of the group, who also chaired a number of talks through the evening.
John was moved by the personal stories relayed regarding mental health over the course of the evening. These served to highlight the fact that we are all touched by such issues, as 1 in 4 will suffer themselves whilst most (if not all) of us will come into contact with a family member, a friend or colleague who experiences challenges with mental health.
Mental health manifests in many guises such as stress, anxiety, post-trauma, depression and more. To reach out to Guy Carpenter employees who may be experiencing an issue the group have set up an internal confidential helpline; they have produced a leaflet & card with contact numbers for organisations such the NHS, Samaritans, Mind, Relate & Cruse Bereavement Care; they give practical advice to help people stay on top of their own mental health and they are also training a number of staff members to become mental health first aiders. These specialist first aiders are trained to recognise small changes in a person and are given the skills to know how to approach them and guide them to the right support.
Especially compelling & engaging were the keynote speakers – ex professional footballer Clarke Carlisle & wife Carrie who both spoke with open, brutal & emotional honesty about Clarkes battle with mental health (complex depressive disorder) and how over the years this manifested in to a number of suicide attempts. Clarke spoke of his journey and how certain events and trauma’s in his life came to bear during adulthood and were triggered by a further trauma which almost ended his playing career. Carrie then spoke of how she supports Clarke, how she can recognise any small changes, how they communicate as a team and support each other.
Impressed by the proactive stance Guy Carpenter are taking to support their people, John took a lot away from the event:
“What did I take from the evening? Firstly, never be afraid to speak to someone you may know (family, friend or colleague) within whom you notice a small change. Never be afraid to ask someone how they are and, very importantly, listen to them.
Heaven forbid, but if you come into contact with someone suicidal, take them to A&E, they’re totally geared up for this & it’s a priority case. Mental health first aiders – what an amazing thing!!!
And finally, mental health isn’t taboo, it isn’t weakness and it shouldn’t be treated so. Thankfully, we’re seeing a revolution and there is now a much better understanding of mental health. As the Guy Carpenter campaign says, ‘Its ok to not be ok’.”