When I started work all those years ago we were encouraged to have a BHAG: A Big Hairy Audacious Goal; and here’s mine, one that's been growing bigger and hairier and more audacious the more people I talk with, listen to and debate with.
Over the last few years I have drunk a lot of tea and coffee, sometimes virtually, meeting hundreds of amazingly talented and passionate people who want to change the world around mental health. Specifically mental ill health, but also more broadly how this fits with the diversity & inclusion agenda not just at work but also in society generally.
We come at this from different backgrounds, training, perspectives, we work in different industries and specialisms and have a wonderful array of skills and experiences. We each know we're special and unique and have a lot to offer. The approach and the starting point may be different, but everyone talks of wanting a similar outcome around the need for systemic change, acceptance and inclusion and an end to stigma and discrimination. To live and work in a world where we can be who we are and live and work in the way we live and work best. A place where the compassion and understanding of humanity takes precedence.
Of course, this comes with debate and disagreements, differences in philosophy and doctrine, but this is what we need if it is to help us make things better step by step, iteration by iteration. We need the grit in the oyster, and the oyster, and the sea water, and time, and patience; we need all of it.
Most people I have spoken with in this time have agreed there is a need one day for some form of body or association for all those with an advocacy in mental health, however that advocacy manifests itself. An association where all of these skills can come together and be harnessed effectively, and not lost in threads on LinkedIn or in blogs, vlogs, round tables, conferences, panels, and books.
Between us we have many ideas, some we're sure are good, others no doubt ill thought out or ill informed, so we need others also passionate and informed in all its varied facets to form a collective to make this, and a platform where it can happen a reality. It’s not about profits, or companies, or the community, it's about all of us figuring this all out together and taking appropriate action.
It feels hard, really hard. It's complex with so many moving parts. And so much has been tried already over the years and not worked, or not worked well enough. However we're living in a time of change, and what once was impossible might now be possible, it's all in the timing and the energy we put into it. But it will still be hard and complex. There's a poetry though in a global desire to understand a complex issue such as mental health and the complexity it might take to solve it.
If you’re interested in building a formal association of great minds as a place to meet, to share, to improve resources and approaches, to challenge and change the status quo, and to work as a team towards improving mental health and inclusion in all areas of our lives then I’d really like to hear from you and hear your ideas.