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79: Why Mental Health Matters: Insights from Dr. Sarah Hughes, CEO of MIND

In this enlightening episode, we welcome Dr. Sarah Hughes, the Chief Executive of MIND, the UK’s leading mental health campaigning organisation

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With over 35 years of experience in the mental health sector, Dr. Hughes shares her journey, the evolution of mental health perceptions, and the vital work MIND is doing nationwide.

Key Highlights:

  • Dr. Hughes’ Personal and Professional Journey in Mental Health: Insights into her 35-year career, her motivations, and her one-year anniversary as MIND’s Chief Executive.
  • What is MIND?: An overview of MIND’s impact, including its nationwide advocacy, charity shops, and service delivery.
  • Changing Perceptions of Mental Health: How public conversations around mental health have evolved and the challenges that remain.
  • Misconceptions About Mental Health: Addressing the lack of understanding around serious mental illness.
  • The Mental Health Act and Its Importance: Discussing the need for updates to better support individuals.
  • The Economic and Social Cost of Mental Ill Health: Highlighting the financial implications and the importance of early intervention.
  • Leadership and Lived Experience: The value of leaders sharing their personal experiences with mental health.
  • Generational Views on Mental Health: Debunking myths that mental health advocacy is solely a concern for younger generations.
  • Practical Ways Businesses Can Engage with Mental Health: How MIND supports organisations in improving workplace mental health.

For more information about Dr. Hughes and MIND’s work, check out MIND’s website and follow Dr. Hughes on her social media profiles.

General Support with Mental Health and Well-being

If you have been affected by any of the themes in this episode, or are currently struggling with your mental health, the following resources may be useful.

 Mind website:

If you are feeling in distress or despair, including feelings of suicide, please do consider calling the Samaritans for free on 116 123 (UK) or email (Rest of World)

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The Transcript

⚠️ NOTE: This is an automated transcript, so it might not always be 100% accurate!

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[00:00:00] Dr Sarah Hughes: You know, I remember, for instance, during the pandemic, um, group of charity leaders, we’re sitting around and we’re, you know, we’re talking in our respective homes around the country, thinking about the things that are important. And, you know, even just things like we had to lobby the government and We won to make sure that people with serious mental illness were in the early cohorts for the vaccine.

[00:00:24] Dr Sarah Hughes: People with serious mental illness often die 20 years before everybody else. Um, and that is a global fact, but a fact in a country that has universal healthcare is one that shouldn’t be happening.

[00:00:43] Leanne: Hello and welcome to the Truth, Lies and Workplace Culture podcast brought to you by the HubSpot Podcast Network, the audio destination for business professionals. My name is Leanne. I’m a business psychologist.

[00:00:53] Al: My name is Al.

[00:00:54] Leanne: I’m a business owner. We are here to help you simplify the science of people and create amazing workplace cultures.

[00:01:00] Al: Yeah. And, uh, as part of our series of amazing guests, we have an incredible one for you today. I think we have talked when we talked a lot about mental health, but there’s a reason because it is really, really quite importantly, isn’t it? Yes. Good. Well, now we’ve got the There you go. There’s the definitive answer from a business psychologist.

[00:01:21] Al: Yes, it is important. Um, for those of you who aren’t in the UK, you may not have heard of MIND. It’s a large, very large organization in the UK. Don’t worry, there’s plenty of stuff for you because there’s going to be something similar to you, to MIND in your country. But also, the problems I think are they span countries, continents, no matter where you are in the world, it’s going to be the similar kind of issues.

[00:01:41] Leanne: Yeah. Mental health is a human condition, isn’t it? None of us are immune to it or immune to adverse mental health challenges. Um, so yeah, it impacts everybody. And the great thing about mine is they have loads of really great online resources as well that you can access wherever you are in the world. So do check it out.

[00:01:59] Leanne: So yes, we are talking today to Dr. Sarah Hughes. She is joining us. She is the chief executive of MIND, a leading mental health campaigning organization in the UK. With a career spanning over 35 years in mental health, Sarah brings a wealth of experience and insight to our discussion. She has been at the helm of MIND for over a year now, celebrating her one year anniversary, just a few.

[00:02:23] Leanne: Weeks ago, before her current role, Sarah has dedicated two decades to leadership positions across various mental health charities, profoundly impacting the sector as a trained social worker, her journey in mental health advocacy and support is not just professional, but a personal commitment to advancing mental health.

[00:02:43] Leanne: Conversations and Policies. Today, she shares her journey, the evolution of mental health perceptions and the challenges and triumphs of advocating for better mental healthcare and support systems. Join us as we delve into an enlightening conversation with Sarah, exploring the depths of mental health advocacy and the impact, the wonderful, impactful work MIND is doing across the nation.

[00:03:07] Leanne: Let’s meet Sarah.

[00:03:08] Dr Sarah Hughes: Um, Sarah and I’m chief executive of mind at the moment, and I’ve been chief exec for a year. In fact, I celebrated my one year anniversary last week. Um, but I’ve worked in mental health for 35 years and very proudly so. And I’m a trained social worker. Uh, I’ve been a chief exec for 20 years now in, um, three, four, actually five mental health charities.

[00:03:35] Al: So as mentioned before, for those of you not in the UK, let’s just get right into the nitty gritty of what MIND actually does.

[00:03:41] Dr Sarah Hughes: Yeah, so MIND is a mental health campaigning organisation. I think people will know us primarily for that. We have, I guess, led the nation’s evolution around mental health for about a decade, although we’re 75 years old.

[00:03:57] Dr Sarah Hughes: maybe, maybe 80 years old now. Um, and we’ve got, uh, 108 local mines across the country that deliver services. And we’ve got 170 very famous charity shops as well. So we do a huge amount. We fundraise for mental health. We, uh, campaign, we influence policy decisions. So, you know, it’s us that kind of gets mental health, uh, additional funding.

[00:04:23] Dr Sarah Hughes: You know, we work really hard with our partners to. negotiate all of that. So we’ve got our fingers in all of the mental health pies.

[00:04:30] Leanne: I’m sure you’ve seen that mental health is much more at the forefront of the conversation these days. Years ago mental health was something you would never really talk about publicly, alone with your boss.

[00:04:42] Leanne: But thanks to Sarah and organisations like MIND, the perception has changed quite significantly.

[00:04:47] Dr Sarah Hughes: I have worked in mental health for 35 years and it’s true to say that when I first started You know, there was no way we could talk about mental health in the way that we do now. There was no conversations between friends.

[00:04:59] Dr Sarah Hughes: There weren’t conversations in families. There certainly wasn’t conversations in workplaces. And even those of us who worked in mental health, you know, you couldn’t really tell people because, you know, there was a sort of almost disdain and, and weird reaction. So to be, you know, 35 years later in an organization that has.

[00:05:21] Dr Sarah Hughes: really changed the conversation is quite an extraordinary thing that we’re talking about it in schools, we’re talking about it in pubs, in barbers, in workplaces, you know, that’s absolutely true. What I would say though is, um, whilst our literacy has definitely improved. Would I hand on my heart say people experiencing serious mental illness would say, you know, we’re getting the best services ever.

[00:05:48] Dr Sarah Hughes: We we’ve getting access when we need it, all of those things. Um, I think some people would say yes, but I, I think there’d be a lot of people that would say no. And so the job is nowhere near done progress. Yes, but we’re not anywhere near where we need to be. It’s been probably The most worrying five years, you know, there’s no doubt about it.

[00:06:11] Dr Sarah Hughes: We’ve actually had quite a long time of global volatility of financial stress and pressure, you know, before the pandemic, we had austerity, you know, so all of these things have eroded mental health. And so what we know is that. There is an increase in prevalence. Um, there is an increase in people seeking help for their mental health.

[00:06:35] Dr Sarah Hughes: I always have to be really careful though. And, and this is some of the issues around language and how we think about things now, um, that I don’t want to pathologize the nation, you know, so we’re not all mentally ill, you know, we’ve all got mental health, but we’re not all mentally ill. There is a.

[00:06:51] Dr Sarah Hughes: spectrum that, you know, some of us travel up and down. Some of us who experienced very serious mental illness exist in a, in a different world often from everybody else because of their experience is so different. So we often merge the two together, mental health and mental illness. And, and that often can leave people with mental illness aside.

[00:07:11] Dr Sarah Hughes: Um, so whilst I, I acknowledge that the prevalence has increased, we’ve also got to understand that within that. group of people that are experiencing, um, deterioration in their mental health, that there will be people that will be worse off than others, even within that group.

[00:07:28] Al: Just as a quick note, if you are watching on YouTube, then, um, unfortunately our technology let us down.

[00:07:33] Al: So we’ve only got half of Sarah’s video, but don’t worry, we’ve got all the audio. So you, if you do see just a lovely picture of Sarah, it’s because we didn’t quite capture that audio anyway. As a busy leader, it is hard to keep up with the changes in public perception. So Dr. Sarah pointed out there are still serious misconceptions about mental health.

[00:07:51] Dr Sarah Hughes: There’s still a huge lack of understanding about what the experience of serious mental illness is. So for those people who are being sectioned under the Mental Health Act, um, for those people who are in and out of psychiatric hospitals, those people who are experiencing community care, who are in supported housing.

[00:08:11] Dr Sarah Hughes: And I do often worry that, that the conversation tends to move towards a more, um, sort of mild to moderate discussion around mental health and I think that actually what I understand from our feedback that we get from the public is that they’re now ready to understand the whole spectrum of mental health and actually the experience that people with more serious mental illness have is often the most difficult in terms of inequality, in terms of poor outcomes and so on and actually when we’ve started talking about that more publicly, people have been astonished and outraged and that’s what we need.

[00:08:53] Dr Sarah Hughes: That’s what we need people to be.

[00:08:55] Leanne: One of the biggest challenges recently is to get the government to acknowledge that mental health needs to be prioritised. The Mental Health Act in the UK was originally created over 40 years ago to determine what should happen if someone exhibits signs of deteriorating mental health.

[00:09:13] Leanne: It is full of recommendations around sectioning and Sarah and her colleagues are determined to get this updated, so it becomes more about helping those with poor mental health than detaining them.

[00:09:24] Dr Sarah Hughes: You know, quite a lot of the mental illness that we see being experienced by communities across the country are caused by things that we could prevent.

[00:09:33] Dr Sarah Hughes: So, poverty, racism, discrimination, um. poor education, bullying, domestic violence, bad housing, all of these things could be within our gift to solve. And so from my perspective, it’s about saying, you know, well, well, why aren’t we preventing mental illness when we know the things that could help make a difference.

[00:09:56] Dr Sarah Hughes: Well, funding for services isn’t at the level that it should be, you know, there is just not, we haven’t achieved parity of esteem, which is this notion of equity between physical and mental health. We haven’t got there. And we know that things like psychiatric hospitals, you know, they’re not in a, You know, the, the establishment, the environment is not good enough, you know, if you’re somebody in mental health crisis and being sectioned under the Mental Health Act and you get taken into an inpatient ward, often those environments are nowhere near conducive enough to good mental health or recovery.

[00:10:29] Dr Sarah Hughes: So, you know, I think that. That’s where we need to be prioritizing our attention. We need to be preventing the mental illness that we know is caused by social factors. We need to be enabling people to access the support when they need it and we need them to get the right care. at the right time from the right people.

[00:10:49] Dr Sarah Hughes: And I think all of those things need to happen in concert with each other, because sometimes we get a bit of the system right, but not the rest of the system. So I’ll give you an example. If you’re in a psychiatric ward, And you become, you know, you recover while you’re on that psychiatric ward, but you want to be discharged, um, to a, you know, new environment or supported living.

[00:11:12] Dr Sarah Hughes: And there is not enough accommodation out there. You end up sitting on the ward for a lot longer than you need to.

[00:11:17] Leanne: It’s absurd to think that there are. Still laws around mental health and mental health support that were created 40 years ago. The world was a very different place 40 years ago. Um, so yeah, it’s, it’s crazy.

[00:11:31] Leanne: That is even time that needs to be spent by Mind and Sarah and her team to update those. those laws. It seems it seems like in any other industry or sector or area that wouldn’t be tolerated.

[00:11:46] Al: Yeah, totally agree. I mean, I think to be honest, the conversations changed over the last 40 months, let alone the last 40 years.

[00:11:52] Al: So yes, we definitely and desperately need some new legislation surrounding this so that it can actually support rather than like we said before, detain or deal with people who God knows what we did 40 years ago. I’m pretty sure that was electric shock sort of, um, era Well, maybe not quite. Maybe, maybe I’m just thinking of a Milgram experiment.

[00:12:10] Al: Now this all might sound like a nice to have and something that needs to be done, but in actual fact, it’s costing us business owners actually quite a lot of money. So even if you can’t quite get your head around why it’s so important, which I understand this is a journey for all of us to understand this.

[00:12:26] Al: It’s important to understand that it’s actually costing you cash every single month, and it will continue to cost you money unless you actually do something about it.

[00:12:33] Dr Sarah Hughes: For instance, in the workplace, the cost of mental illness is around 56 billion a year. So, the economic case is very strong. It’s very strong in terms of if we don’t invest in prevention, and people, you know, people find out often if they have mental illness or they’re going to experience mental illness before the age of 25.

[00:12:56] Dr Sarah Hughes: So as a result of that, um, you know, we, we know that if we could invest early, uh, get people into services and support when they need it, we can get them back into thriving lives. So again, it’s about, you know, then people can become part of their communities. We can see relationships and the economy blooming, you know, it means everything.

[00:13:19] Dr Sarah Hughes: And the idea that, that physical and mental health are not equally important is something that I’ve never understood personally, you know, for me, I’ve always, it’s always made sense to me that they’re, they’re inextricably linked. But we do so much in terms of our policy and our funding decisions that separates them off.

[00:13:39] Dr Sarah Hughes: And as a result of that, we are. Disadvantaging the nation’s mental and physical health. People with serious mental illness often die 20 years before everybody else. Um, and that is a global fact. But a fact in a country that has universal healthcare is one that

[00:14:00] Leanne: Some of the more progressive and perhaps braver leaders are starting to share their own experiences with mental health.

[00:14:07] Leanne: But there’s still some way to go. I asked Sarah why more leaders don’t share their personal experiences.

[00:14:15] Dr Sarah Hughes: I think it’s very rare that people haven’t had any. And I say that because it’s not just about themselves. It could be in their families or, you know, workplaces, whatever. I think we’ve all got that experience.

[00:14:28] Dr Sarah Hughes: I think it’s, I think it’s fear. I think it’s fear about disclosing. We still carry a lot of shame about being ill or, uh, there is a. still a stigma attached, no matter how well we talk about it in society. We are still vulnerable and I think open to people misunderstanding and so on. And so I think I understand the fear and I see more and more leaders speak about it all the time, both inside mental health and in across the charity sector.

[00:15:00] Dr Sarah Hughes: I mean, You know, a friend of mine, Karen Bradshaw, who’s chief executive of the, um, charity finance group recently wrote a blog about saying, you know, I’ve just taken some time out because my mental health was bad. And, you know, I think that that is hugely, it’s still a brave thing to do. And until it becomes a natural thing to do, and we don’t have to be so brave, I think more people will do it, but until then, it’s still a bit scary.

[00:15:28] Al: In a moment, Sarah is going to share her own experiences of mental health, but before that, I have to bring up those pesky Gen Zers. Once again, it feels like they’re the ones who are stirring this all up. Now, is this mental health just something the younger generations care about, or is it more of a broader conversation?

[00:15:44] Dr Sarah Hughes: No. And it’s funny, actually, because I’ve got, I’ve, I’ve got my own Gen Z, I’ve got my own kid. And, um, we, you know, we have these discussions all the time, and, uh, it’s really, really interesting. And some of it is this kind of generational tension between expectations of each other, uh, expectations in the workplace.

[00:16:04] Dr Sarah Hughes: And all these things are really evolving, and we haven’t got the language right. And the concept of being woke or not, being a snowflake or not, all of these terms are a way of dividing us because actually, you know, I get this sense from you as well, that actually being woke is a good thing because actually essentially it means you know stuff and you’re compassionate.

[00:16:28] Dr Sarah Hughes: That’s what I think it means. Um, but of course it is weaponized. And so all of this language, I think we’ve got to work hard, certainly as a sector, as a leader, as a human being, just out in the world to not collude with it. Um, and just to kind of try and enter into discussion. Why, why are there differences between us rather than You’re right and I’m wrong.

[00:16:54] Dr Sarah Hughes: Um, this is an evolution. We’re all learning. And I think, yeah, this war of words, this culture war around snowflakery is, I think it’s a red herring. I think, I think it’s, it takes us away from actually focusing on what the issues are, which is social injustice. You know, that’s actually what we’re talking about.

[00:17:17] Dr Sarah Hughes: You know, not whether people care about the social injustice or not.

[00:17:20] Al: Now, hold on a minute. Sarah just used the term social injustice, and I hadn’t heard that term before. So I wanted to find out a bit more about what that actually meant.

[00:17:28] Dr Sarah Hughes: Well, it’s such a great question, actually, because almost all of the, um, corporate organizations that I’ve we’ve worked with over the years have very much had this kind of creeping interest in the social justice agenda, which often is couched in equality and diversity and inclusion.

[00:17:48] Dr Sarah Hughes: Um, but actually what we’re talking about is fairness, is dignity, respect. equity. I, I just think people are ready for a bit more nuance. I think it’s very difficult, you know, the social media, if you were just having conversations on social media, then it would feel very divisive. But actually, when you’re talking to people in communities, in businesses, That’s what people want.

[00:18:14] Dr Sarah Hughes: People want to live thriving lives. And I think that when we’re saying, well, that’s great, but you know that many people are just about surviving and they’re just about surviving because they’re living in poverty or, you know, they’re experiencing racism and discrimination that’s, you know, exploding their mental health and causing all sorts of, um, other consequences on their families, on their physical health.

[00:18:44] Dr Sarah Hughes: I think people, I think people care about that.

[00:18:48] Leanne: One of the biggest challenges that the younger generations have is that every problem in the world is documented on social media. That means they are bombarded with bad news all day long. So how can they stay abreast of the world news without getting overwhelmed?

[00:19:04] Dr Sarah Hughes: So firstly, I think that there is something about staying informed in the, from the right places. So I think part of part of what I want people to do, especially young people is create for them to curate their input, you know, their social media feeds so that they’re getting good information about stuff.

[00:19:23] Dr Sarah Hughes: Cause I think just this. Constant deluge of information can be very overwhelming and getting accurate information about things can be very difficult to do. I think that we have to help our young people, you know, because even though I was a staunch activist from a very young age, I didn’t know half of what was going on in the world, but our young people know it all.

[00:19:48] Dr Sarah Hughes: And they’re expected to care about it all. And I think we have to enable young people to find some sanctuary away from distress. And that is very difficult to do because we all want what’s happening in the world to stop. And, you know, all the bad stuff to stop. But I think that, you know, we need to enable our young people to self care.

[00:20:14] Dr Sarah Hughes: to say, okay, you know, there, there is, there is this that I’m going to focus on. But then there is the other thing that I think is very important, um, is actually to get involved in something. So, so it’s, it’s a kind of not the antithesis of me saying curate your feed and manage your self care. It’s an extension of that really, because often Engaging in campaigning or engaging with a community that is working on a project to look at X, Y or Y is incredibly powerful and really good for your mental health because effectively we’re social beings.

[00:20:49] Dr Sarah Hughes: So being with other people, even for those people who are introverts or you say they like being at home, we’re effectively social beings that being with people on things that you. Care about the things that you can do together is a huge, huge mitigator of mental illness.

[00:21:08] Al: One of the coolest things about Sarah is that she’s not some stuffy suit in a boardroom pontificating about how things should be.

[00:21:15] Al: She’s not only worked in mental health and the care sector for decades, but she’s very open about her own mental health struggles.

[00:21:21] Dr Sarah Hughes: Well, it’s funny actually, because, um, I, I, Mental health is my life’s work and the reason being is because primarily I came from a family where, you know, people that I loved experienced mental illness.

[00:21:35] Dr Sarah Hughes: As I got older, I experienced my own mental illness. I still do at various points in my life. And so. I know, I know deeply, uh, how poor mental health can just, it’s like a nuclear bomb into families. It can be a nuclear bomb into your lives, but it can also bring great joy, empathy, compassion, knowledge, wisdom.

[00:21:59] Dr Sarah Hughes: And so with all of that together, I just felt like it was a natural place for me to be. And, uh, I’ve always worked in charities and the reason why, again, is because I feel like it’s closer to communities, it’s closer to where people live and where it makes the most difference. And I guess going into senior leadership, I realised quite early on that there’s probably not many people like me.

[00:22:29] Dr Sarah Hughes: In leadership positions that, um, hold their own lived experience so, um, openly and maybe at the heart of their decision making. So I thought I’d give it a go. And ever since I felt, um. deeply committed. And even in the small wins, you know, I remember, for instance, during the pandemic, um, group of charity leaders, we’re sitting around and we’re, you know, we’re talking in our respective homes around the country, thinking about the things that are important and you know, even just things like we had to lobby the government and we won to make sure that people with serious mental illness were in the early cohorts for the vaccine.

[00:23:14] Dr Sarah Hughes: And, you know, just knowing that we had done that, you know, and that thing wouldn’t have happened if we didn’t do that bit of campaigning. So we know. That in that act, in that kind of, you know, um, prioritizing people’s needs that we’re able to make a difference and, um, it’s those things that drive me and, and, um, our local minds and what we’re doing and what we’re seeing the change we’re making.

[00:23:39] Dr Sarah Hughes: It’s all, it’s all that counts really.

[00:23:42] Leanne: Navigating the world of leadership as a woman brings its unique challenges and opportunities. Something Dr. Sarah Hughes knows all too well. She shares her personal experiences of being a woman in a leadership position, the evolution of workplace norms and the ongoing quest for true diversity and inclusion in the charity sector.

[00:24:03] Dr Sarah Hughes: But I also remember what I was like when I entered the workplace and the amount of raised eyebrows that I would get around a table, you know, the amount of times that I was told off for not wearing a suit, the amount of times I got told off for, you know, having a tattoo or not talking properly or all of these kind of things, you know, and I, I just think so, so I resist as much of that as possible, uh, in terms of how I am now as, as the boss.

[00:24:36] Dr Sarah Hughes: Um, but I also recognize that, you know, it’s not, it’s actually not that easy. You know, we don’t, you can’t underestimate that generational transition. And I think it’s only through having honest conversations and talking it through. that, you know, that you can kind of get past the tension. So we have a lot of women leaders in the charity sector, but there are more chief executives that are called, I think it’s David, in the UK than there are women.

[00:25:07] Dr Sarah Hughes: And I, I think that’s true. I don’t think we have a lot of diverse women in the charity sector. So, you know, um, uh, black women leaders, disabled women leaders, I think, I, I think we’re quite far away from that, but it’s still heavily dominated, you know, in terms of, you know, funding institutions. who we, uh, talk to in terms of government, um, corporates, et cetera.

[00:25:34] Dr Sarah Hughes: So, yes, it is. I’m very much of the mind that we all work in kind of white supremacist sort of, uh, uh, frameworks, which include very traditional views of men and women and leadership and the way we talk to each other and, you know, how we communicate on all sorts of different things. And so as a result of that, um, we’re all operating in a way that, um, challenges the idea of diversity and leadership and, and.

[00:26:05] Dr Sarah Hughes: We, we haven’t dismantled it yet. Uh, we still bump up against it. So, I recently spoke about being a working class leader. And it’s still a thing. It, it just is. And for us to say that it isn’t, it’s just not, it’s not. True. I do think the language of feminism gets, um, locked into, uh, a different place that I, I don’t really understand or try and engage into much.

[00:26:33] Dr Sarah Hughes: You know, where I’m at is, my leadership is about inclusion. is about understanding, uh, the environment in which we operate and responding accordingly.

[00:26:44] Al: Sarah’s ability to eloquently articulate ideas and insistence on being part of the conversation has sometimes earned her the description of being an annoying woman, usually by white middle aged men.

[00:26:55] Al: Instead of getting upset about this, Sarah wears the Annoying Woman badge with pride. It’s even on her Twitter profile.

[00:27:01] Dr Sarah Hughes: Well, I mean, it was in response, I think, was it Donald Trump who called somebody an annoying woman or somebody here? No, it was one of the politicians here. Anyway, there was a time when women who spoke out were being called annoying.

[00:27:14] Dr Sarah Hughes: And I think, I think pretty much we still are called annoying. And I take pride in My sometimes being an annoying woman, partly because that social justice piece is very important to me as a human being, I feel deeply motivated by what I see happening in the world, what I experienced myself. And, um, so yeah, sometimes I think I’m provocative.

[00:27:45] Dr Sarah Hughes: I say things sometimes I probably shouldn’t say. Um, I’ve got a bit better at that as I’ve got older, but, um. Still sometimes creeps out. And you know, I mean, and this is the thing, women, when you’re considered difficult, it’s a really interesting way of closing you down. And I think by owning the fact that yes, we’re difficult and disruptive because, because there’s a necessity and we’re not, I’m not going to allow that view to undermine the point that I’m making as a woman.

[00:28:15] Dr Sarah Hughes: And, um, so yeah, I, I love, I’ve got a lot of annoying women friends and, uh, I think. They’re the best type.

[00:28:23] Al: Okay. So, you know, by now it’s my job is to take all this stuff and make it practical for the business owner. So how can mind help you and your business?

[00:28:31] Dr Sarah Hughes: So we at mind, we’ve got the mental health at work commitments that we do in partnership with a lot of corporates.

[00:28:37] Dr Sarah Hughes: We run our mental health index so that people can sort of assess where they are in terms of, you know, whether they’re, they deliver on the mental health. agenda or not. I think that it’s, it’s joining up with communities. So joining up with, you know, there are many workplace well being, um, networks. So Madwell being one of them.

[00:28:59] Dr Sarah Hughes: There are many others. There is Mind Forward Alliance. There is Mental Health First Aid. There is what we do. And, and again, and there are others. And I think corporates being part of that, uh, I think is a Corporate organizations are quite a long way on their journey, and I think that we should applaud some of our corporate partners for the progress that they’ve made, and I don’t think we should underestimate that because I’ve, I’ve seen astonishing progress in, you know, corporate world in a way that.

[00:29:29] Dr Sarah Hughes: You know, even some of our charity organizations would not have made. Um, so I think it’s being part of those networks. It’s facing up to the truth of what goes on in your organizations. It’s about, you know, understanding what your workforce needs and what they’re saying. And I think this is becoming custom and practice, I think, in lots of places.

[00:29:51] Dr Sarah Hughes: And I wouldn’t say it’s a job done, but, but I, I think I’ve seen more progress than than I would have thought. I think there are organizations like John Lewis. I think that, you know, it’s very famous for the support that they provide for their organizations. I think that, um, Unilever as well, another organization very well known for all of the support that they deliver within their organization.

[00:30:16] Dr Sarah Hughes: So I think there are good examples and, um, And, you know, we can definitely share more of those and we have a award systems and again, you know, many awards are offered to organizations. You can see it all the time in different places. And I think this is, this is a good thing. This is progress. Uh, it’s not always performative.

[00:30:37] Dr Sarah Hughes: And I think sometimes people worry about that, but, um, you know, small steps can lead to big strides.

[00:30:44] Leanne: A lot of business owners we talked to are frustrated about the number of people who don’t engage with their EAPs or employee assistance programs. An employee assistance program, if you haven’t heard of it, is a workplace benefit program designed usually to provide confidential support and resources to employees facing personal or work related challenges.

[00:31:05] Leanne: So it can offer things like counseling, mental health support. Assistance, financial counseling and referrals to other professional services organizations. Some EAPs also include things like shopping vouchers, gym membership, online GP appointments, that type of things. EAPs can be really valuable for a number of reasons.

[00:31:24] Leanne: Firstly, they do provide that confidential support. They encourage employees to seek assistance without that fear of judgment or negative repercussions. And this confidentiality fosters early intervention. So it helps employees address issues before they escalate to a really serious level. So by offering access to counseling and support services, EAPs can improve mental health, reduce stress, and help employees cope with personal and work related challenges.

[00:31:50] Leanne: This in turn, of course, as you well know by now, listener is going to lead to degree, increased productivity, increased job satisfaction, and overall wellbeing among employees. It also sounds like really good stuff, right? Well, it is, but as we learned last week, speaking to Bruce Daisley, an emphasis on individual level interventions can cause more damage than good.

[00:32:11] Leanne: If an employee is operating in a toxic work environment, as Bruce, Bruce explained, it could be seen as victim blaming. So this could be one of the reasons that uptakes in EAPs are typically low. But as Dr. Sarah explains, there may be other factors at play.

[00:32:29] Dr Sarah Hughes: Partly, um, EAP services are really great, but often people will not feel like it’s personalized enough to them.

[00:32:37] Dr Sarah Hughes: So I think sometimes that’s the struggle with EAP, that it feels a little bit kind of general and, you know, not personal, etc. So I think that’s some of the struggle. I think sometimes EAPs are not always culturally um, appropriate or they’re not, you know, effective for people with neurodiversity. So sometimes it’s about the quality of the offer and, and that’s not a denigration on EAP at all because I think it’s very good practice to have one.

[00:33:06] Dr Sarah Hughes: But I think that sometimes, you know, um, we’re all doing it at scale that we forget actually it’s individuals that are accessing those. support systems and individuals have individual needs. So, so there’s that. I also think we can’t underestimate stigma. So again, whilst I would say a lot of progress has been made, I still think there are a huge number of people who would say, I am no way near ready to disclose my mental illness.

[00:33:36] Dr Sarah Hughes: in the workplace. Um, I don’t feel safe to do that. So I think there’s a combination of factors about why people don’t access support, but I would urge organizations not to stop. What I would urge organizations to do is examine the offer and see if it’s something else. And also, I think. And this is something, you know, ultimately, you can provide a lot of well being support, but if people are still being overworked or underpaid, um, you know, well being support is not going to offset those.

[00:34:14] Dr Sarah Hughes: So sometimes the decision is, you know, can I pay my workforce a bit of a better wage? Or do I invest in EAP? I think those things are for you to discuss with your workforce, especially if you’re an SME. You can’t just drop in a wellbeing programme into a business and hope for the best, because it’s, it’s about everything else.

[00:34:37] Dr Sarah Hughes: It’s essentially about the culture. It’s about people’s ability to It’s about the quality of the offer of, you know, EAP and all of those sorts of things. It’s fundamentally if people feel like they’ve got good work, that they’re in a fair environment, that they’ve got good line management. Those are the things that I think I have seen make the biggest difference in well being.

[00:35:03] Dr Sarah Hughes: So getting the basics right, I think above everything else, has to be the priority. Wellness initiatives do work and they work for people’s holistic health. The reality is, is that if you’re considering wellness as a response to emerging mental illness, then that’s not the right thing. And so I think it’s about workplaces really understanding the difference between mental health.

[00:35:29] Dr Sarah Hughes: and then when people become ill. So I think it’s about growing your understanding and moving that literacy into a really much more sophisticated approach to supporting people’s mental and physical health in the workplace. So wellness is important. I agree though that it’s only part of the pie that will make the tangible differences to people’s working lives.

[00:35:54] Al: There’s a lot of EAPs out there to choose from. Um, our personal favorite is Perkz, P I R K X, run by the amazing Stella Smith. Uh, so, such good value, such, such amazing things you get from it. It’s something we use here, even though there’s only two of us, we use here. And if anyone asks about an EAP, then we always recommend to go and look up Stella Smith.

[00:36:12] Al: So look in the show notes, P I R K X, not being paid to say that. Man, if we did. Yeah, we actually, Stella, if you’re listening, you need to pay us to say that.

[00:36:21] Leanne: Mind is an incredible organization, and Dr. Sarah Hughes is an amazing woman. If you want to get involved with Mind, then Sarah has a few ideas of where to start.

[00:36:34] Dr Sarah Hughes: So we’ve got, uh, you can go to our pages, our web pages, and there’s a whole ream of things. You can be an ambassador, you can be a fundraiser, you can be a campaigner, you can be one of our facilitators. You can join some of our volunteer programs. You can volunteer in our shops. Um, you know, you can do all sorts of things.

[00:36:55] Dr Sarah Hughes: You can help us make sure that your workplace gets the, you know, mental health at work commitments. You know, there are all sorts of things that people can do. It’s not just all about donating. a fiver. You know, there are although people donating a fiver is very, very welcome. But, you know, it’s all about spreading the word of mind of that piece about, you know, we can prevent some of the mental illness that we’re seeing and it’s not impossible to provide people with good care.

[00:37:23] Dr Sarah Hughes: And, you know, we want people to Be sharing that message, get behind the movement, campaign, lobby their MP, tell their local, you know, commissioning group that fund all of the healthcare, you know, we want them to get involved, have their say, fight for mental health.

[00:37:42] Al: Well, there you have it. I hope you have a better understanding of what MIND is and the work they do, but also a better understanding of Dr.

[00:37:48] Al: Sarah Hughes. Definitely go and check out her LinkedIn. She’s very proliferant. Proliferate? What’s the word when you write a lot? Proliferate? Prolific writer. There you go. She’s very prolific on LinkedIn. Um, so definitely go and check that out. And she’s also done lots of amazing other interviews on other podcasts.

[00:38:04] Leanne: You’ve thrown out some vocab today, Al. I don’t think I missed pontification before. Pontification?

[00:38:09] Al: I got, I heard that. That’s to make a bridge out of something. Pontification. What did I say? Pontification. I don’t know what pontification is. What is it?

[00:38:18] Leanne: Pontification. It sounds exactly the same. You’re saying the same word.

[00:38:21] Al: I’m saying it right. Say it again. Pontification.

[00:38:26] Leanne: Pontification. What did I say? Pontification. I didn’t say pontification.

[00:38:30] Al: You’re putting the emphasis on the wrong bit of the word. Anyway, check out the show notes for links to Dr. Sarah’s profiles and to find out more about her.

[00:38:39] Leanne: Yes. And before we go, let’s just remind ourselves of the importance of talking about all this stuff.

[00:38:45] Dr Sarah Hughes: You know, without doubt, the difference that we’ve made. to society as a whole mental health community, which is effectively built on the shoulders of people with lived experience. Um, the, you know, we’ve spoken about mental health and we’ve increased the conversation, but now we really need to help people get to the next stage and not get locked into this kind of, you know, idea that, uh, that mental health is just this and forget about people with more serious, enduring life threatening conditions.

[00:39:19] Leanne: Thank you to our guest today, the incredible Dr. Sarah Hughes, chief executive of MIND. Thank you for listening. If you are enjoying the show, get in touch. Your fan is on LinkedIn. Leave us a review. That’s always nice. Um, or you can call Al directly on 07703.

[00:39:35] Al: Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. No, do not call.

[00:39:40] Al: I tell you what, even if you message me on LinkedIn, then I won’t answer. Liam was horrified the other day because she opened my LinkedIn. She logged into my LinkedIn and saw there was about 60 new connection requests. So if you have sent a connection request to me, I’m sorry, it’s nothing to do with you.

[00:39:52] Al: I’m just grumpy. And I just, I just. I just like not talking to anyone, which is not great seeing as I’m the sales and marketing guy,

[00:39:58] Leanne: content creator.

[00:39:59] Al: It’s I type not talk. There you go. There’s a web as a domain for you type, not talk anyway. So we will see you next week for another amazing guest. As Leanne said, do get onto LinkedIn and search for truth lies and work because you’ll find that there is a, there’s a page there that Leanne is very active on.

[00:40:15] Al: And what’s more important is it’s just, it’s your way to talk to us. There isn’t really a way unless you use Spotify and I don’t know how to use that Q and a thing, but there’s no real way for you to, to, to talk back to us. And we really want you Your feedback. So, um, if you’ve enjoyed it, if you’ve hated it, if you think that we’re rubbish, if you think that we sound a bit sexy and now it’s since post COVID and we’ve both got a bit of a deeper voice.

[00:40:32] Al: So you really want to just get some ASMR going. Then I’m get onto LinkedIn. Let us know what you think, because it’s really, really important to us. It’s lovely also recording this, but we do record it just to a camera. So we don’t get that two way interaction. So it’d be really, really good. What are you doing there, Lee?

[00:40:50] Leanne: Is that what it’s called?

[00:40:50] Al: BDSM, I think. BDSM. BDSM is the word. Yes. So next time you’re in a meeting, use the word BDSM. That’s what it means.

[00:40:57] Leanne: Yes. Next week. Who forgot on the show next week, Al? Yes.

[00:41:00] Al: Yes. I’ve forgotten. Um, oh man, I knew, I knew you’re going to ask it. I should have checked. Uh, we’ve got an amazing guest on next week.

[00:41:06] Al: Let’s leave it at that. It’s a surprise for everyone, including us. Bye. Bye bye.

[00:41:18] Leanne: And the ongoing quest for true diversity and inclusivity in the charity sector. I couldn’t get that out, sorry.

[00:41:27] Al: That’s good. I mean, do it again if you want, but

[00:41:30] Leanne: Inclusivity. Struggle with that word.

[00:41:33] Al: Struggle with a lot of words, Lee. Like, no thanks, I don’t want another glass of wine.

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