From a young age I felt a high level of empathy, an innate sense of care for others and an interest in building a meaningful life.
Thirty-five years ago those personal characteristics led me on the path to become a psychologist. In those early years, there was a great deal of stigma about mental health. Mental health concerns were barely recognised in the workplace. As a young adult working in national and international corporations, I often supported colleagues through sadness about life events or panic about their work capacity.
These concerns were kept a secret; there was little organisational knowledge on how to effectively assist. This lack of workplace support led to misunderstandings and people hiding their struggles for fear of losing their career, and potentially their livelihood. I noticed that by keeping their struggles a secret, that made them feel more alone. I felt their despair.
I eventually left the corporate world to set up my own clinical practice. I wanted to make a difference and touch people’s lives and I felt this was the best way for me to do that. In my clinical work, it became apparent that issues at work had a significant effect on people’s mental health. The lack of acknowledgment and understanding of the challenges people face to their mental wellbeing in the workplace was negatively impacting individual and business performance. I could see there was a significant need to better support people to be ‘well’ at work.
The SPEAK program was born to support employees in managing mental health concerns in the workplace, providing a framework and fostering a culture of positive workplace wellbeing. It shows leaders how to understand, seek and provide appropriate support to peers.
As a psychologist I have dedicated my life to assisting people during their most vulnerable times. This is the privilege bestowed to my profession.
The SPEAK program allows me to share this and support the moments that allow us all to SPEAK. We all have the opportunity to make a difference to each other’s lives, and sometimes the privilege to save one.