Challenging the Mindset


British Institute of Facilities Management (BIFM) run an annual event for women in FM.  This year’s was focussed on Mental Health in the Workplace – Challenging The Mindset.


Mental Health and wellbeing is a key part of Growing Talent’s Holistic Week so I was interested to see what the FM industry thought on this critical area.  Challenging the Mindset was about removing the stigma in the workplace and get more people talking about it.


The day was well structured  with diverse speakers with plenty of networking opportunities.  Growing Talent Associates will know how important networking is!


Unfortunately, I could only stay for the morning session. Opened by the Chair of Women in FM, Jackie Furey, the scene was set for an intensive learning session with over 100 delegates in the room.


Of course the AV gremlins were in force and every speaker had the test of dealing with rogue sound and spinning slides – which they all did with excellent grace.  I wondered if this was deliberate as it certainly broke the ice!


Jackie introduced Louise Ashton, Wellbeing Director from BiTC.  Louise fired off a lot of stats, policy etc but a disappointment for me was no mention of signposting for suicide when she raised this subject.  In my view people don’t need to know the stats they need to know what to do.  So in the Q&A session, I shared the excellent free app #StayAlive which gives step by step guidance and signposting for those thinking of suicide and those  trying to intervene.


Next was Asa Bjornberg who uses horses in her unique and interesting work.  Asa shared her journey from being an expert at McKinsey & Company to becoming a clinical psychologist and coach using horses in her leadership and development programmes. Asa also shared some of her personal exposure to mental health and recovery.  A hugely innovative and interesting session.


Bianca Angelico followed Asa.  She is Deputy Chair of Women in FM and an exec manager at Sodexo.  She shared a heart rendering experience made all the more human and poignant by her dad in the audience who had travelled from the family home in South Africa to support Bianca.


Karen Shaw – passionate Employer Programme Manager from the excellent Time To Change spoke about their role, their work in removing stigma at work and encouraging all to sign the Time to Change Pledge.


Lauren Trent a recruitment consultant with Trust in SODA made some in the audience reach for the Kleenex again.  She was one of the people involved in the acid throwing by Arthur Collins.  Her visible concern for her friend who was with her on the night and more disfigured was permeable.  Lauren enabled the audience to know what the life long journey is for someone affected by this horrendous trend to use corrosive substances as weapons and the confusion on the night with a lack of help from the nightclub, the horror of having her family over an hour away and the pain for them.  Lauren spoke about the training needed for everyone on what to do in an acid attack.


Graham Bird, Workplace Director at Where we Work gave a funny, presentation on how to look after ourselves in the workplace which held the interest and resulted in much note taking.


The final speaker of the morning session was Lucy Jeynes, MD of Larch Consulting and Co-Founder of Women in FM.  The reaction of Lucy’s colleagues and peers in the audience was most startling as she revealed the mental health issue that had impacted her family, the pressure of holding it together in the workplace and supporting everyone around which no one knew about at the time.  For me this illustrated the often hidden impact of Mental Health – trying to carry on at work as though everything was ok.  Her talk started off with a member of her family experiencing cyber bullying – a 24/7 issue that never stops…. Various stages of Mental Health decline followed until ultimately the worst case scenario was attempted but luckily unsuccessful.  Lucy shared some interesting stats – 40% of bullying is via social media, 30% is in on-line gaming platforms and 30% on instant messaging.  It’s more subtle in the workplace with ‘Frenenemies’ – pretending to be your friend but in reality they are your enemy – these offer advice and then exclude you totally undermining self confidence.  Cyber bullying continues even when schools, work, location is changed.  There is a campaign to stand-up to this ‘Stop, Speak, Support’


An incredibly interesting event.