Victoria Byrne and I started byrne·dean in 2003 to create kinder, fairer, more productive workplaces. Recently she said to me that it was always about saving lives too – people kill themselves because of what happens to them at work.
Mental health and stress have always been a big part of the employment problems that we work with at byrne•dean. Before Richard Martin came on board in 2012, we had no great expertise. It was when we started talking seriously about helping clients (law firms and others) to avoid what had happened to Richard, that I really started to see just how many employment problems could be viewed through a mental health lens.
My two head and neck cancers (2009 and 2016) have influenced my life and work. My first book ‘the Soft Stuff: reclaiming kindness for the world of work’ is published in April. In the book I write more about the mental ill health that has followed my cancers than the cancers themselves. In 2017 I was diagnosed with trauma related anxiety. On hearing this Victoria Byrne famously said: ‘but you’ve always been like that’ – expertly diagnosing an underlying anxiety.
My work on kindness is about creating space in your mind to display that kindness. Engagement and inclusion will follow. Mental health is a central tenet of our work.