Mad Word II Review


The first Mad World Summit in 2018 was a big success. The culture around mental health was changing and employers came together to talk about why it matters and what they can do about it. It was the start of something special and a positive energy flowed through every session and keynote speech.

A year later and wellbeing events are all the rage but I am pleased to say it was not a case of ‘second conference syndrome’ – Mad World still has the wow factor. This was due to interesting speakers, an engaged audience and positive media coverage.

My Mad World highlights

I was impressed by HSBC Chief Executive Ian Stuart and always enjoy listening to Dame Carol Black. The comedian Ruby Wax was the star attraction. I was moved by her mental health journey and her commitment to breaking the stigma.

The Thriving at Work panel highlighted some worrying statistics – 39% of employees have experienced poor mental health where work was a contributing factor, and 50% of employees due to causes outside of work. You don’t come to work expecting to be physically harmed, so why should you be mentally injured? Workload, bullying, harassment, loneliness, how people are managed, financial worries and the increased risk of emotional distress for minority groups reminded the audience that breaking the mental health stigma does not solve the triggers.

Fiona Cannon OBE from Lloyds Banking Group stressed the importance of listening to people and knowing how to respond if they tell you they have a mental health condition. The key takeaway point from the discussion was ‘What gets measured gets managed’ so employers need to measure the impact of interventions on the health and wellbeing of employees and make evidence-based decisions on how to make work good for them.

When CIPD’s Chief Executive Peter Cheese spoke about the ‘always on culture’, it made me visualise work as an escape room. We have to work together to solve the riddles to workplace wellbeing, preventing burnout and enjoying our freedom. But our office is always in our pocket with pings, rings and reminders to keep us chained. There is still a lot of work to do and multiple lenses magnifying the different aspects of the journey. Being part of the Mad World movement will help you plot your direction of travel.

Enjoying my press pass

I received a press pass for Mad World and I was busy interviewing speakers and participating in roundtable discussions to soak up the experience. I missed a number of interesting sessions but the amount of media coverage the event attracted meant I could absorb the key information. Once again, excellent PR by the organisers.

It was an honour to interview Claire Walsh, Head of Occupational Health and Wellbeing at BAE Systems, whose key points about wellbeing communication were know your audience and how to engage with them; respect has to go both ways between managers and staff; and don’t become too reliant on buzz words as they can be misleading and not reflect what is happening in the workplace.

I turned my interview with Lou Banks from Rise HR into an HR Zone article Mental health at work: giving men a voice. I plan to turn my other interviews into articles later in the year.

I would like to say a big thank you to Peppy Health which helps organisations support employees going through key life transitions including fertility, early parenthood and menopause. You found me in the media room and described me as an “influential blogger”, which made me feel good. I wish you all the best in helping organisations improve menopause support in the workplace. And all the best to the training provider Mental Health Aware UK, following the impressive demonstration of your e-learning courses.

Book Reviews

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I interviewed Dr Shaun Davis from Royal Mail about his book ‘Positive Mental Health’ which he co-authored with Andrew Kinder from Optima Health. You can read the review here. I am now reviewing other books by LID Publishing. Maybe, one day, I will write my mental health book.


Mind Chief Executive Paul Farmer said about Mad World, “If we tried to arrange an event like this 10 years ago, no one would have turned up.” The fact there were so many people at this year’s event is proof that employers care and want to make a difference. I look forward to next year’s Summit to find out if they have.

About the Author:

Paul Carter is a Senior HR Consultant at Civil Service Employee Policy in London. He has worked in HR for five years after spending 10 years in communications and committee management. He is CIPD qualified and writes HR blogs to encourage debate on how to make the world of work a better place. Writing and running help him manage his mental health and he is determined to raise awareness of what living with Pure OCD is like. He is always interested in meeting new people and exploring new opportunities.



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