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Talking of Mental Health

Talking of Mental Health

Talking of Mental Health

There’s good news and bad news in Accenture’s recent report on mental health in the workplace. The bad news first: the sheer scale of the problem is even larger than we had previously thought. Two-thirds of UK workers have reported personal experience of mental health challenges and 85 per cent say that someone close to them has. “We’re used to hearing that one in four people experience mental health challenges,” said Barbara Harvey, mental health lead for Accenture’s business in the UK, “yet our research shows that the number of people affected is in fact far higher.” The closer we look at the problem of mental health, the larger it appears.

But there is good news too. It seems that the taboo around talking about mental health is loosening its grip: 82 per cent of those surveyed said they were more willing to speak openly about mental health issues now than they were just a few years ago. Thanks to a variety of campaigns, and the efforts of many individuals, people are increasingly ready to talk about their mental health.

  Kind of. You see, the survey reports some hesitations. Of those who had faced a personal mental health crisis, the majority (61 per cent) had not spoken to anyone about their issue. So, the taboo around talking seems to be disappearing, but people are still struggling to open up.

As a culture, it seems, we’ve got much better at talking about how we ought to talk about mental health, but we’re still struggling to—well—talk about mental health. Put another way, most of us now know that it’s OK to talk, but we’re still not sure what to say. (Or, crucially, how to listen.)

Our friend Geoff McDonald, co-founder of Minds@Work, can help us here. And if you haven’t already, then do make sure to watch his TED Talk; Geoff speaks openly about his own mental health and thoughtfully about others’. In his talk, he proposes two concrete steps for improving mental health in the workplace. Firstly, he tells us, “we need influential people to tell their stories.” And, secondly, “we need leaders to invest in training everybody in mental health.”

At Boxspring, we believe we can be a part of this next step. The stigma around mental health is being eradicated, and now we want to help people to know what to say; how to start those conversations; how to listen properly and speak kindly. We’re ready to talk, now it’s time to figure out what to say.

Alex Hill

Towards a Future, With Purpose

Towards a Future, With Purpose

Towards a Future, With Purpose

If the headlines and Twitter Feeds of the world are getting you down at the moment, I have the perfect cure: a trip to the website of our friends at Unreasonable Group. On this VC’s “Companies” page, they show all of the businesses they’re currently working with. You see, Unreasonable only work with entrepreneurs who are, as they put it, ‘bending history in the right direction.’ Put another way, they work with people who are passionate about solving the world’s BFPs.

           They work with folks like Jayaashree Industries, who have created the first low-cost machines to make sanitary pads in India; Embrace Innovations, whose infant warmers are estimated to have saved the lives of over 300,000 babies across 22 countries; and Econic Technologies, whose catalyst technologies convert CO2 into materials for plastic production. Unreasonable’s chief enemies are ill-health, climate change and inequality and they have assembled an exciting group of ventures to work with them.

           In the last ten years, Unreasonable—and other organisations like them—realised something that the rest of the business world today is only just waking up to: business does not (and cannot) exist apart from the world’s social problems. Business has both an opportunity and a duty to engage with problems like climate change and gender inequality in order to produce serious, social impact.

           If businesses don’t engage with social impact they’ll find themselves in danger of being left behind by their customers. Many customers today, particularly Millenials, look to businesses that take on social responsibilities. (If you don’t like statistics then look away now.) Deloitte’s Millenial Survey 2018 found that 40% of Millenials believe that the goal of business should be to ‘improve society’. Similarly, a 2015 Nielsen poll found that consumers are increasingly seeking out products that are clean and responsible: 66% of global consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable goods, and a full 73% of Millenials are.

    At Boxspring, our drive is reskilling for purpose. We have set our sights on a future of human collaboration with machines (rather than a future of mass unemployment). We have an opportunity to work towards a future that is built on solving some of our greatest problems. In order to reach that preferred future, we know that our workforce will need to adapt and develop many new skills. And this sense of purpose motivates us; it gets us out of bed and into the office every day. What is the social impact of your business? If you can’t come up with an answer, it might be time for a rethink.

Alex Hill