In advance of the Mad World Summit, the conference and exhibition that puts mental health at the heart of the business agenda, we had the chance to catch up with Ruby Wax. Ruby’s charity Frazzled Café is Mad World’s charity partner. Ruby will be appearing at the event on Wednesday 9 October.
Q1: First question for you Ruby – how are you?
I’m really good. I can say that because I’m in a lucky position where I only do what I enjoy and that doesn’t burn you out. Not everyone has that in their work so it’s important to have something else in life that feeds you mentally and gives you purpose and meaning.
Q2: Frazzled Cafe, a charity that you founded, is collaborating with this year’s Mad World Summit. Mad World is all about helping employers to make a difference to workplace mental health and wellbeing. What are the key messages you would like the Mad World audience to take back to their workplaces?
That treating mental health as separate from physical health doesn’t work. It is critical to our overall wellbeing and whether an employee is asking for help or support because of a physical or mental condition, it shouldn’t matter. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, 1 in 4 people experience it, and so reducing that stigma is important. Almost 1 billion working days a year are lost due to mental health issues like stress, anxiety and depression. Organisations that support the mental wellbeing of their employees are ultimately going to be better off and their employees will feel better connected to them.
Q3: You are often invited to speak at organisations on the subject of supporting employee mental wellbeing. What advice do you have for business leaders of both large and small organisations in terms of supporting their own wellness, as well as that of their staff?
As a leader you have to ‘walk the talk’ because the state that you are in sets the tone for everyone around you. There’s a phrase I love: “neural-wifi”. It’s the way we pass on our state of mind to the people around us; family, colleagues, people on our commute… If you’re in that state of ‘red mist’ where you’re so agitated or stressed that you can’t focus – you can bet the people who work for you will be in the same state and no one is at their best. So, you can be the person polluting or enhancing the environment. Find a way to lower your own pressure, it can be mindfulness; exercise; CBT; whatever works for you. Learn to do that and it will help everyone around you.
Q4: You will be signing your bestselling book “How to Be Human” at Mad World in the “de-frazzle” zone. In it you provide guidance on navigating the future. What is your wish or vision for mental health and wellbeing in the workplace for 2020 and beyond?
Well, let’s hope there is a workplace… and if the future is a lot of technology, hold onto your humanity because that is something tech can’t replace. Then we’ll have some hope of running it instead of it running us. It‘s going to be even more important for us to develop the ability to control our brains, whether through exercise like mindfulness or wearing a mental ‘fit-bit’ – things like that are being developed! It won’t come automatically, the speed of technological advancement is so fast we can’t keep up, so it’s important that we can be aware and not get caught up in information overload to the point it overwhelms us. If 65% of 8 year olds feel that there will be jobs that don’t yet exist it’s going to be people with the ability to be compassionate and genuinely connect with others, like people do in our Frazzled Cafe meetings, who will be the success stories of the future.
About Frazzled Cafe:
Frazzled Cafe is a registered charity (#1173064) founded by Ruby Wax, OBE. They run facilitated peer support meetings across the UK where people who are feeling frazzled and overwhelmed by the stresses of modern life can come together to talk openly, connect and feel heard. They provide a safe, confidential and non-judgemental space where it’s OK, to not be OK. To find out more visit www.frazzledcafe.org or you can meet representatives in the De-Frazzle zone they will be hosting at the Mad World Summit.
[Note: To help fund their mission Frazzled Cafe also offer a range of Corporate Sponsorship programs designed to assist organisations with their employee wellbeing programs.]
About the Author
Claire Farrow is the Global Director of Content and Programming for the Mad World and Make a Difference Summits. She also drives the content for Mad World News. Claire is on a mission to help every employer – large, medium and small – get the insight, inspiration and contacts they need to make real impact on workplace culture, mental health and wellbeing in their organisation. She has been freelance for more than 15 years. During that time, she has had the honour of working with many leading publishers, including the New York Times.