Mental health at work

My reflections on a powerful working day at Tobias & Tobias

Written on 22 September 2016


It’s Monday and I’m on annual leave yet I can’t help thinking about work. Here’s why.

On Thursday last week, Tobias & Tobias celebrated our 15th birthday at McQueen and we heard from three speakers that talked about the power of data and its ability to improve lives.

One talk was especially powerful, that of Pete Trainor titled: “Siri, I want to end my life”. Pete’s company discovered, while working on a banking project of all things, that companies like Apple have all the data in advance of a human committing suicide, yet choose to do nothing about it.

The following day, we had Emily Dean of the organisation YoungMinds, come to our office and talk about mental health among young people. We have a regular lunchtime gig called Lightning Talks, yet Emily’s talk lasted far longer.

It’s easy to see why. We were not talking about how a human interacts with a computer screen, we were learning about how society interacts (or doesn’t) with the wellbeing of young people. There’s a big difference and we all felt it.

The timing was good too, as Ofer Deshe, our Managing Director, had said earlier last week that our company will start channelling more of our resources to good causes. It’s a sensible and obvious approach for Tobias & Tobias as the company’s raison d’etre is designing human experiences.

A bit about YoungMinds

As Emily explained, we all have a level of mental health which is affected by genetics, nurture and events and mental ill health are far more common than many realise. Three children in every classroom suffer from a diagnosable mental health disorder such as depression, eating disorders and anxiety.

Scarily, 75% of enduring long-term mental ill health begins before the age of 18 as many young people struggle to get the help they need. YoungMinds helps in many ways and one approach that is having success is its website called Head Meds, which young people can access and which doctors routinely recommend.

YoungMinds is heavily focused on supporting parents to help to equip them with knowledge of how to react to children at risk of mental ill health. What I especially like about YoungMinds is how it has young people (those aged 25 and under) as advisors — being ‘customer-centric’ as we say in the trade.

The most important message of all though was the way in which Emily spoke about the need to be speaking openly about mental ill health and how it has affected her family. This resonated with more than one of us in the office, including me as depression has long had a place in my family and has affected me.

What we’re doing at Tobias & Tobias

As a first step, Tobias & Tobias has committed to supporting #HelloYellow World Mental Health Day by repainting one (or more!) of meeting rooms yellow! Will it be the red, blue or green one?

Stay tuned!

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