Business South Conference looks into raising awareness of Mental Health in the Workplace

Jul 16, 2019

The theme drew together HR Professionals and business leaders from across the region to discuss promoting good mental health in the workplace, including the role of policy, the importance of line managers and mental health first aiders.

The conference featured a range of expert speakers including Clive Stone, CEO at Oakleaf Enterprise and Shirley Anderson Chair of the Business South action group, Workforce South.

Expert panellists Becky Lawton from Charles Russell Speechlys, Paul Cliff from North Face Consulting, Emma Wakefield from WSP and Clive Stone provided insights and commentary on a range of issues.

The event’s keynote speakers were mental health campaigners Jonny Benjamin MBE and Neil Laybourn. In conversation with Nick Hurley from Charles Russell Speechlys delegates heard the moving and compelling story of when Jonny and Neil originally met on Waterloo Bridge at a time of crisis for Jonny. The story continued with the efforts of Jonny to reunite with Neil and them both going on to create an enduring partnership to help promote mental health issues and forming the charity Beyond Shame Beyond Stigma.

We were delighted That’s Surrey TV were able to join us at the conference and created a short video that includes an interview with Jonny and Neil. Please click here to view.

Jonny Benjamin said “Too many people in the workplace don’t feel able to bring their whole selves to work. There is still a big stigma around mental health and that’s why we do what we do to raise awareness and get people talking about reducing the stigma of mental health”

Business South received some excellent feedback on this event. Jane Clement Business Manager at Waverley Borough Council said ” I Just wanted to thank you and the team for a truly inspirational event this morning. Jonny and Neil’s story was moving and thought provoking, just showing what a difference one person can make to another by simply taking the time to notice, listen and engage. I thoroughly enjoyed the session and returned to work energised, with a tool box of ideas to support my colleagues and further develop myself’.

“Our people conferences are not the only way to discuss best practice with other HR professionals,” Shirley Anderson said, “All Business South members – known as ‘Champions’ – are given the opportunity to join Workforce South and other action groups to collaborate and to promote business in the South. If you are interested in finding out more, get in touch.”

Find out more about becoming a Business South Champion and the Workforce South Action Group by visiting