Last night I was privileged, as a Business Disability Forum Associate, to share an evening, one of a series, of ‘Courageous Conversations’ at an American bank in London, as part of their Disability Advocacy (& LGBT) Networks.
The conversation was held with Jonny Benjamin MBE and Neil Laybourn of the film The Stranger on the Bridge (and originally ‘Finding Mike’) fame. The films, made by Channel 4 and shown in 2014 tell the story of Jonny trying to find ‘Mike’ who helped to save Jonny from jumping off Waterloo bridge in 2008, and then with the real Neil (‘Mike’s proper name). It is a powerful, heart-rending and heart-warming, human story.
Jonny had been diagnosed with schizophrenia, and he spoke candidly about the voice(s) which plagued him over many years, and the help he’s received particularly from Rethink Mental Illness.
My small contribution towards the day, has been assisted by a colleague in HR, who I’ve been running resilience workshops with, (see the extract of an email below…)
Mental health problems can affect anyone, any day of the year, but 10 October is a great day to show your support for better mental health and start looking after your own wellbeing.
Mental health in the workplace is the theme of World Mental Health Day 2017.
One in four adults and one in ten children are likely to have a mental health problem in any given year. This can have a profound impact on the lives of tens of millions of people in the UK, and can affect their ability to sustain relationships, work, or just get through the day.
Depression and anxiety are common mental health issues that have an impact on our ability to work, and to work productively. Globally, more than 300 million people suffer from depression, the leading cause of disability. More than 260 million are living with anxiety disorders. Many of these people live with both. But an ill-informed and damaging attitude among some people exists around mental health that can make it difficult for some to seek help.
We all have mental health, whatever form that might take and it’s important to take care of our own mental health and that of people around us.
We invite you to come along today (10th October) to Meeting Room 1 between 12.00 and 12.45 for a cup of tea/coffee and a chat about mental health issues/mental health first aid.
In addition, if you would like to attend our Building Resilience Workshops, where we talk about mental health, stress and building resilience and the signs of stress that you might see in others, then please let me know.
So, I had my sandwich and coffee in Meeting Room 1, and wrote this, alone. In the circumstances it may have been better to have a shed without windows, for privacy, as some companies have done. But at least we have offered an opportunity, another step along the road.
Later that same afternoon, a colleague broke down in tears during an invited conversation, bringing the reality home…
But then, after work, I was chuffed to receive these encouraging words, as feedback from the IOSH conference mentioned earlier.
“Steve Walter, Wow! Very brave and thank you”
“I connected with Steve Walter’s story, as did other people who I talked to. Thank you for a personal story”
“Specific thanks to Steve Walter whose honesty was powerful and refreshing”
“Steve Walter’s presentation, moving uplifting and will read his book”
And from Heather Beach, The Healthy Work Company: Until 28th October there is a play at the Bunker Theatre London SE1, dealing with suicide and the fact that every 31 Hours someone throws themselves under a train. It is supported by Arco and the British Safety Council. Book here .