The room was packed, the lights were dimmed, the stage was empty and I was sitting in the front row, mic’d up and running through my presentation in my head. Then a video started rolling on the big screen and, as the music signalled the opening of This Can Happen 2018, I felt my eyes prick with the emotion of it all. This finally was happening. A conference hall full-to-bursting with people like me, who see the workplace as being central to tackling the issues around mental health and who are determined to make a difference. Pride, excitement, anticipation…. And nerves!
From the moment Neil, Jonny and Zoe asked whether Accenture might be their research partner and until the moment I stepped down from that stage my focus was how on how we could develop a piece of research that would help them achieve their goal. We wanted to show the world that mental health isn’t a minority issue, that it affects us all. And that employers truly can make a difference. And that’s just what we did. We showed that 9 out of 10 workers in the UK are impacted by mental health, either directly or through someone they know. And we showed that when employers create a more open workplace culturemore workers seek help and feel safe to talk.
But while sharing our research findings was a moment of tremendous pride during the day, the day brought us so much more. Partnering with, and just being at, This Can Happen – and the presence in the audience of our UK CEO Oliver Benzecry – sent a BIG signal through the organization; demand for our mental health allies training is stronger than ever and we’ve been continuing to roll out awareness training to the managing directors who lead our business in the UK, with many more of them speaking out on a personal level on Time to Talk Day than ever before. We’ve also been in the studio making movies to help us spread the message that it’s safe to talk about mental health. Internationally, we’re launching mental health support programmes too. I’m writing this from The Dock, in Dublin where the faces of our Irish allies smile out from a poster by the coffee machine; our allies programme in Poland was the most recent to go live.
So, when the team at This Can Happen asked whether we’d be a research partner again this year there was only one answer. Yes. We look forward to seeing you there.