People are afraid to talk about mental health. Big companies tend to ignore some of the most obvious signs of mental illness because they don’t want to talk about it. Also, people who know that they have mental health issues tend to ignore all the signs. They need it right in their face before they act on it. Mental health awareness is needed, especially now. Join your host Timothy J. Hayes and his guest Paul Hendry on how to spread awareness for mental health. Paul is the Vice President of Jacobs, and he delivered a program that will help the wellbeing of everyone. The One Million Lives program is Paul’s way of letting people open up about mental illness. The program uses technology and the Jacobs network to start a movement that reaches over one million people globally. Help spread awareness today.
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One Million Lives: Spreading Mental Health Awareness With Paul Hendry
Paul Hendry is the Global Vice President for Health, Safety and Environment at Jacobs. Paul is based in Glasgow, Scotland. He joined Jacobs in 2011. Paul realized that to achieve great performance, they had to focus on mental health and make sure their staff had the tools and programs to enhance their behaviors and help them thrive. One Million Lives is now the next stage of the Mental Health Matters program, which Paul and others initiated at Jacobs in 2015. One Million Lives uses technology and the Jacobs network to start a movement that reaches over 1 million people globally.
Paul, thank you so much for joining us here. It’s great to see you again.
Tim, thanks for having me.
I was hoping you could let us know how a company as worldwide and vibrant as Jacobs could get into such a robust mental health program. What was motivating that?
It’s been such an incredible journey. Believe it or not, our mental health program began with a conversation between myself and one of my direct reports. He suffered from depression quite badly. At that time, I’m a construction guy and I didn’t have any mental health background. Going back to late 2014, 2015, I’m not even sure how interested I was in it if I’m being perfectly honest.
When I had this conversation with one of my direct reports around his mental health, he started to explain how he felt and described his feelings. He tried to explain to me some of the telltale signs for when he was going into a depressive cycle. Hopefully, I’m using the correct terminology. I’m not a mental health professional. He educated me on that.
As an organization, once I started being educated in how much mental health and mental illness were impacting the organization and the performance but also impacting on people’s ability to thrive in their workplace. Way back then, it was never spoken about. We talked about eliminating the stigma but back then, this was a singular conversation between me and that guy. I can’t believe it now but at that stage, we have run a robust mental health program, all our executive leadership team, our mental health champions, including our CEO and COO and launching the One Million Lives too.
As you’ve asked me that, I’ve started thinking about the magnitude of what’s happened and perhaps that journey. It’s not been a linear path. There have been many hurdles. I can’t believe we’re at that stage where someone is well respected as you and healthcare and psychology are seen as great tools. I like that.
How do you define a mental health champion in your organization?
Be an active listener instead of jumping to conclusions.
We’ve got 2,500 in the organization. It’s over 55,000 in the organization. That’s maybe 5%. We’re still probably on a waiting list of another 1,000 that we’re trying to train up. Honestly, when we put out the expressions of interest for people to train, we could not believe the number of people that held our hands up. For me, that was a telltale sign that we need to do something to tackle mental health in the business.
What’s a mental health champion? It is around eliminating the stigma, promoting positive mental health, and helping with initiatives and campaigns. It’s also to be maybe that independent person that can signpost someone to go and get that professional help. One of the things that we’re clear about in determined at this is that we tailor our mental health champions, “You’re not a therapist. You’re not a psychologist. Do not try and diagnose. Your role is to lessen people and perhaps signpost them to the resources that are there in the company and outside the company that can maybe help them on a journey.”
What is the training like for a mental health champion?
The training is a four-hour investment. It gives people an understanding of the difference between mental health and mental illness. That’s been crucial for us. Even talking the same language in the organization is important for this. We describe the differences between mental health and mental illness. We lean on a model called the Keyes model. I don’t know if you’ve heard of it. We talk about the mental health continuum. We give people an understanding of that. We then talk about different types of mental wellness. We give them an appreciation of depression, anxiety and all the other stuff that goes with it.
We show them where to get the resources that they can signpost people to. We also teach them about active listening. One of the things we are serious about is that we are actively listening to our staff. We’re not jumping to conclusions. We’re starting with all those perspectives so that we can be active listeners rather than jumping to solutions. What we do in our day job is find solutions for clients. It’s hard for us to then say to people, “You’re not here to find a solution. You’re here to listen to someone and signpost them to the right help.”
The main idea is a four-hour commitment to get that training and then to be active in their day-to-day work environment to help promote conversations about mental health where it’s needed and direct people to resources if they raise an issue.
What we asked them to do is identify themselves. It’s much easier when we were all in the office. We would have lanyards with a post of mental health champion. We’d have pictures in the canteen to show who the mental health champions were. It’s a lot more difficult now that we are mostly working remotely. What we’ve done is we’ve got them to put at the bottom of their email signature, “I’m a mental health champion.” It’s exactly as you describe that.
Where did you have this evolution of the One Million Lives program?
We caught up and I told you how proud I was of the organization for embracing mental health. Tim, this has been a massive contributor to our culture in a positive way. To go off to the evolution of One Million Lives, I still always feel that what we were doing was still quite reactive. We’re being proactive, running, campaigns and initiatives. Often, the conversation we’re having is when people are saying, “I have a problem. I have this issue.” I always felt there was something we could do to maybe get ahead of that to help people before an issue developed around their mental health and not around the mental illness.
One of the tools we have in our toolkit through the mental health champions is what we call The Five Ways to Wellbeing. We focus our champions on The Five Ways to Wellbeing. It’s about connecting. It’s making sure that people are connecting with each other and they’re not isolated. It’s about learning. We’re encouraging people to go and learn new skills about being active.
We know how much exercise impacts our own mental health. It’s about noticing and looking at the beauty that’s out there. In particular, where do you stay? In the Midwest, there is so much stunning nature. It’s about encouraging people to get out there and look at that. Finally, it’s about giving. It’s about asking people to go and volunteer in their communities to help boost their mental health. That’s one of the best tools we have in our toolbox as a mental health champion. To go back to your question, how did we evolve from champions to One Million Lives? It always felt reactive. This is a common issue. For some reason, people don’t fully engage with employee assistance programs the way they should. We felt there was something missing and that’s how it evolved.
We did a trial of the mental health check on an Australian business. There’s a psychologist I worked with called Peta Slocombe, a phenomenal lady, psychologist and passionate about mental health. She brought a mental health check to an organization in Australia. It was part of our campaign. It’s called Australia’s Biggest Mental Health Check-In. They got a few thousand people checking in. Some of those people were Jacobs’ people.
When the data was presented to me, I was astounded by the number of people who had the check-in. They said that the results were showing perhaps tendencies that could be depression and have not had that clinical diagnosis. It was shining a light on some of the issues that they had to work on. When I’ve seen this data and some of the feedback from our staff and our Australian business, it was stuff like, “This check-in is a lifesaver. I’ve made an appointment with my doctor. I knew I wasn’t feeling great but this has shone a light on that. I’ve made an appointment with the doctor. My wife is another one. For the first time, I told her what I’m feeling based on the mental health check.”
When I started getting those comments and looking at some of the data that showed we have a massive issue, I suddenly thought that we need to get this out further in the organization. Peta and I worked on that and had the support of the business to fund it, which was phenomenal. As we’re going through it, it started to occur to me that I’m blessed that I work for an organization that is willing to put money into the staffs’ mental health.
I could look at my daughter as an example and what their employer is doing. I felt there was some inequity with mental health. I thought, “Could we make this for friends and family?” We started around that concept. We do other things for friends and family. We have a driving program and we do driver training. You can nominate family members to take that as well and we will pay for that. It’s part of our agreement with the vendor.
We started thinking, “There’s a possibility. We can do that.” Someone says, “What about our clients? Why would we not give our clients access to this?” We’re like, “Why don’t you make it open-source and accessible to everyone?” That’s the concept of One Million Lives. Approximately, one million people die a year from suicide so that was a tagline, “Let’s try and touch 1 million lives.” The only way that we could do that was to make it open-source, free and available for everyone.
Approximately one million people die a year from suicide. Let’s try and touch 1 million lives.
It’s a fabulous concept. The technology now lets us do that without bankrupting the company or even spending so much that we have to fight with our board members to approve it. You were blessed. How did your company turn the corner to start acknowledging this? Most companies that size with men driving the profit margins wouldn’t even agree to it. What’s the story behind getting your company to buy into this mental health initiative?
I got an enlightened executive leadership team. We’ve got a phenomenal CEO and he’s got a phenomenal and diverse team beside him. They were open to how to get our people thriving. There are many studies out there that talk about the impact of poor mental health. There are a ton of investments from a mental health perspective. It’s a no-brainer. If you want to maximize your return to shareholders, you need to make sure that you start from mental health. It’s an easy conversation to have.
Were you a prime motivator in collecting that research data and presenting it to your CEO?
Yes. You’re never sure how these conversations are going to go. We’re a $16 billion organization. There are about 55,000 people across the globe. There are massive things that compete for the organization’s time. You’re never sure when you launch these things how they’re going to go. You had to cover all bases and say, “We can talk about the moral aspect of mental health and how we should be looking after our people. From a business perspective, if we deal with mental health strategically, we can talk about how it can give it a ton of investment.” With anything that I’ve seen as a leader to the organization, you need to come at it from a few angles if you like. Not everybody thinks the same way.
The research is out there. It isn’t often promoted in the mainstream media. If you dig for it, it’s available. You’ve mentioned a little bit about the One Million Lives program and how to touch a million lives. By some reports, 1 million people a year die from suicide. You’ve alluded to this check-in. Can you tell us a little bit about the check-in, how to access it and what it does.
You can access it at www.OML.world. We don’t ask for any personal data. That was important to us as an organization. We can’t store personal data. Imagine the risk of that. One of the things we had to work hard around was the legal aspect of this to make sure that we’re not attracting risk to the organization. OML.world, you can access it there. You can sign up without any personal data. We don’t ask for emails. You will just create a username and a password and away you go. We do collect high-end data that helps us understand where the people who take the check-in are at. We get useful data.
You mentioned technology and how it can help us collect data. One of the things that we’ve noticed that’s interesting from this is that men who are in the higher risk category, from a suicide perspective, are engaging in this at the same rate as females. It’s 50/50 almost, which is phenomenal. Men tend not to go and talk to someone about their mental health but they seem quite happy to engage in doing it on a smartphone, their iPad or something. That was interesting.
We have based it on the K10, which is the Kessler model that a lot of healthcare physicians will use. It measures your psychological distress. We also ask some questions about proactive factors like how much exercise do you get. Also, some risk factors around your sleep. What type of sleep do you get? How long do you spend on social media? We do ask that question how long do you spend? We ask the question how does social media impact your mental health? It’s a completely different question.
For someone like myself who doesn’t do Facebook or stuff like that, I can still spend lots of time on LinkedIn, Twitter and stuff like that and it doesn’t impact my mental health at all. If we looked at the younger generation who are on Facebook, the figures we’ve got are phenomenal around how it negatively impacts their mental health. These are the questions we ask. It’s 75 questions and it would take you ten minutes to do.
From that, you would get an individually tailored report on your answers. That report then gives you some of the things that you can work on. There’s also another website attached to it that has all these useful resources called HelpGuide. We’ve partnered up with them and all these useful resources that people can access for free.
It’s a phenomenal tool. If you can start the conversation to open the door about mental health, that’s great. If you can make it a routine practice for people to do their own internal status check, that’s amazing. I remember being in graduate school and there was a 360-some question assessment device. The professor said, “I take this once or twice a week and I call this other guy.” How many people are going to go through that to get trained in it and then spend time? Almost nobody.
What you have here with the check-in is the short and the full check-in. It’s a phenomenal resource. Many people get busy in their lives and they miss the early warning signs, they rationalize them away, “It’s because I’m having a busy week. It’s legit time.” What I love about this tool is that it serves a purpose that a person standing in front of the mirror or talking with a good friend can’t fulfill efficiently. That is a quick spot-check assessment and then an evaluation. It’s not like I have to weed through the answers and figure out where was I weak or strong. It provides a nice summary and it’ll flag me and say, “Tim, you’re doing pretty healthy in this area but you might want to look over here.” That’s phenomenal.
Time is a precious commodity that we don’t have enough of. The factors you could be setting, you could have ten minutes of downtime and decide, “I’m going to do this check-in.” You could be on public transport or on a train. Most of us don’t reach out to our health care provider because of time until things are bad. The beauty of this is you can do it when you’ve got a spare ten minutes. There’s a leader in the company and he runs our whole European business. He probably does a check-in every couple of days. He’s a massive advocate for it.
It’s a wonderful tool. The idea of mental and emotional hygiene keeps cropping up for the past years. I’m hoping it gains momentum especially with the addition of tools like this that are readily available. You’ve got an open-source. People can do it on their phone, their tablet or on their laptop. It’s a phenomenal thing. I haven’t spent a lot of time yet exploring the resources. I know we’ve got that same thing in JourneysDream.org and the same here at Global.org. It provides resources and practitioners who are integrative in their approach and not just going with the conventional approach. I look forward to checking that out. For yourself, have you found that people are reporting the use of certain specific resources or tools for making course corrections, once they get an evaluation, they do check-in and they say, “They’re weak in this area.”
We get evidence of that all the time. We had one of our leaders in HR. One of the things we do in Jacobs is host a global mental health call every two weeks. It’s something that myself and my team facilitate. What we do is we pick topics like dealing with anxiety, fatigue and sleep during COVID-19. We explored addiction. We pick different topics every couple of weeks. We had this HR lady on. What we do at the start of these calls is we bring someone on and they talk about their One Million Lives report.
It’s good because you’re eliminating the stigma. You’re having leaders in the business say, “There’s stuff I need to work on.” It’s good for other people to hear that. She came on, mentioned that she was struggling and she did the check. She showed us her results and she was struggling. She went on to the resources and it changed her path and direction. She did another check-in a few weeks later and it was a phenomenal turnaround. She spoke about that, which was great. She shared her vulnerability. She also demonstrated that if you get a plan and you want the plan then you will get results.
One of the most important things I found for people is to give them some hope that if they make these changes, they’re going to see the benefits. The best thing about the best tools is that they have practicality. They end up seeing the benefit.
Tim, maybe you’ll say I’m right or wrong on this. Generally, people know what to do. They need a reason for doing it. Having your results in your face that’s telling you, “You need to sort yourself out. You need to get out running more. You need to start getting more sleep. You maybe need to cut down your alcohol intake. You maybe need to go and connect with your friends a little bit more. Go and do something extracurricular.” In a mirror, having that right in your face is the motivation to go and do something.
It always helps if our leaders are telling us, “This is important. It’s worked for me. We’re all in this together.” It’s phenomenal. I want to applaud your efforts and Jacobs as a company for doing this. OML.world is the website. The information that you collect is age, gender and basic stuff. I’ve been impressed that I’m promoting this on the show. I’m glad that you’re willing to be on this show to let people know.
This is exactly what Journey’s Dream is trying to do. It’s heartwarming for me to see many other people bringing this up. There’s a development of specific tools in these resources. It makes it easier for people to follow up and do something. I can recognize I have a problem but I don’t know what part of my life is contributing to it. If I do this check-in, my own responses help this check-in map it out for me and give me a report and then hand me a list of resources. It makes it so much easier for me to take steps to make effective change.
I want to ask you a question, firstly. Before we move on, I can’t speak highly enough about the company. When we started collecting the data, I presented some of it to our executive leadership team and we looked at some of the data. We asked a question. We were direct with the question. Have you had suicidal thoughts? What we found was, under 25, more than 50.4% had suicidal thoughts. You and I know that doesn’t mean that they’re all going to go and act upon it but they’re still having those thoughts. The next age group, 25 to 35 years old, it’s 44% or a little bit lower.
Time is a precious commodity that you don’t have enough of.
I took this to my company. I had the CEO, COO, the head of legal, everybody on the call and I said, “What are we going to do about this?” I explained that this doesn’t mean everybody’s going to go and take action. As I can see, I’m right. They said, “We need to do something about it.” Do you know what we’ve done? We’re going to be launching it on International Suicide Prevention Week, which is from the 5th of September through the 11th of 2021. We have put together a suicide prevention training.
At the time when I’ve seen the results, I’m like, “What are we going to do?” The company said, “We need to go and do something.” We’ve got this training created for suicide prevention and helping those individuals in society to intervene and ask questions, some telltale signs about where we can intervene. I thought that was a demonstration of, “Here’s the data. What are you going to do about it?”
At a different level, you were talking about how when you train your mental health champions, their job is just to listen and not fix the problem. If they hit a signpost, maybe redirect somebody to some resources. At a bigger level in your company, you are a company that looks at problems and then derives solutions. This is a wonderful example of that. You look at the data, it shows you that there’s a trend and you look for a solution to correct that trend.
Can I ask you a question about Journey’s Dream? We’re going to be sharing this on social media. There probably will be people in my network who don’t know about Journey’s Dream. I checked the figures and we’ve got about 1,500 people in the Midwest area. We have a big presence in Chicago. We got three offices there. We’ve got a lot of people who are within your region. What is Journey’s Dream?
Journey’s Dream is a not-for-profit that is committed to rewriting the narrative on mental health, to one in which optimal health and well-being are possible and expected and to one in which mental health challenges become transformative rather than tragic. The core of the organization is built around two critical factors. One is people who have been dramatically impacted by mental health issues and one is a set of tools that are some of the most powerful, effective, efficient and accessible I’ve ever encountered in my over 47 years of doing therapy.
A family that lost their son, Journey. Three members of that family partnered with a gentleman who had been a successful businessperson and then had his own mental health challenges. They came together because they had access to this set of tools. A gentleman named Dr. Michael Reiss who has been doing work like this for over several years has put together these tools that are powerful, effective, efficient and accessible because he puts them on the internet for free.
They said, “These tools, with a little bit of tweaking, could be much more accessible to the corporate world.” Once they did that, they said, “Why don’t we make it available to more and more people?” Instead of marketing the optimal being program, which is what they ended up labeling it, to corporate executives, “Let’s start Journey’s Dream and let’s see if we can expand the awareness of both the level of mental health issues and these powerful tools.” That’s what Journey’s Dream is about.
I’m looking forward to finding out more and see how we can connect more. We’ve got a video for One Million Lives as well. I don’t think mental health is unsolvable. What we need to do is we need to all link arms, join hands, hold hands, whatever it is, as organizations together and tackle it. A lot of organizations are doing that well and others are doing that well. Imagine we all joined forces like how Journey’s Dream started and potentially what we might be doing. Imagine everybody forces and tries to tackle this. We’ll get a solution much quicker.
What you were saying reminds me of the book, The Origin of Species. Back then, certain leaders decided, “The most important thing about this book is survival of the fittest in nature.” They didn’t read the book. If they read the book, they would see that cooperation and collaboration are far more powerful and effective in nature than competition.
None of us is going to do this alone. As we gain momentum, we get more and more done and we know it. There’s never been one person who put another person on the moon or one person who built a bridge. There’s not one person who’s created Jacobs. It’s over 55,000 strong. We’re excited to have information about One Million Lives and the Jacobs company and their initiative. We’re looking forward to building that momentum. It’s exciting.
I can’t wait to get more involved with Journey’s Dream and you, in particular, and see where we can go with this.
I’d love to have you get a hold of Mark and see if you can get access to that Optimal Being Program and have your first-hand experience with that. There’s a more involved assessment that can go along with that than just your check-in. There’s this training program to build some personal skills and tools that can help me turn the corner where I’m generating pain, frustration, sadness or negative emotions. My culture would tell me all of that is coming at me from the outside. Whereas the core of that work understands, “I have a lot of personal agency that I can bring to the table to correct my negative emotional states.” With a little bit of skill and willingness to apply those, it’s a whole different game.
Mark showed me briefly the program and it looks impressive.
I’ve been doing therapy for over 47 years and all of the doctoral training and postdoctoral training. This is the most powerful, effective, efficient and accessible set of tools. You don’t have to be a 47-year experienced therapist to get these results. You can get phenomenal results the first time or two that you apply these tools. If you can read whatever language the instructions are in and apply them, you get the results.
It sounds phenomenal.
If you consider that we’re wrapping up here, what’s an aspect of either your life, your work with Jacobs or anything about the mental health initiative that we haven’t even asked you about yet that you’d like to put in this interview?
The next stage of One Million Lives for us is we’re making some changes to the web-based app. We want it to be open-source but we have only created it in English. We weren’t sure how it was going to fly, to be honest. We need to start translating that into other languages, Spanish, Arabic, Hindi. We’re working on some of those things to see how we can make the user experience better.
Leaders of an organization need to tackle mental health from a few angles. People are diverse; not everybody thinks the same way.
For me, it is about myself and the team in the organization pushing it with other organizations using our network to have as many people access the tool as possible. That’s why I loved our chat. We have had so much validation from psychologists and therapists who have looked at this tool. That gives it credibility. For the users, we have not had one negative comment. There have been 13,000 people who have access that has not had one negative comment on it. All we’ve had is positivity. It’s helping people have conversations. It’s driving people to go and talk to their healthcare provider. It’s been brilliant.
Thank you so much for your time. I know you’ve got someplace you have to be, another activity soon. It’s a blessing to get exposed to this work and to have people like you out there pushing these issues forward.
Thank you so much. I enjoyed the call. I appreciate it. Thank you.
Paul Hendry is the Global Vice President for Health, Safety and Environment at Jacobs. Paul is based in Glasgow, Scotland. He joined Jacobs in 2011. In his time at Jacobs, he has been involved in many iconic projects across the globe. He wanted to challenge the routine way in which Jacobs planned and executed their health, safety and environmental program. He was focusing on integrated risk and the well-being of the people that are doing the daily work to deliver their projects for the benefit of everyone.
Paul realized that to achieve great performance, they had to focus on mental health and make sure their staff had the tools and programs to enhance their behaviors and help them thrive. One Million Lives uses technology and the Jacobs network to start a movement that reaches over one million people globally. Equipping people with a tool to understand and improve their mental health, creating ripple effects as they encourage sharing it with friends, family and colleagues, creating a legacy that people are excited and proud to be part of.
- One Million Lives
- The Origin of Species
- Optimal Being Program
About Paul Hendry
Paul Hendry is the Global Vice President Health, Safety and Environment at – Jacobs Paul is based in Glasgow, Scotland. He joined Jacobs in 2011 and in his time at Jacobs he has been involved in many iconic projects across the globe where he wanted to challenge the routine in the way that Jacobs planned and executed their HSE program. focusing on integrated risk and the wellbeing of the people at the doing the daily work and delivering the project for the benefit of everyone.
Paul realized that to achieve great performance, we had to focus on Mental Health, make sure our staff had the tools and programs to enhance their behaviors to help them thrive.
One Million Lives is now the next stage of the Mental Health Matters program. One Million Lives uses technology and the Jacobs network to start a movement that reaches over one million people globally.
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