World mental health day and the Mindful Business Charter

Richard Martin




In a world where we can be anything, be thoughtful

It is World Mental Health Day on Saturday, a day when the world comes together to think about mental health.  As with all these special days, we are hopefully thinking about the issue on the other 364 days too, and that's implicit in the theme for this year - mental health for all, greater investment, greater access, everyone, everywhere.

And that theme is implicit too in the work of the Mindful Business Charter, a network of businesses that are collaborating to address everyday the unnecessary stress that exists in our working lives, and in particular in the ways in which we interact with each other, within our businesses and between them.  At its heart is the simple notion that when we are stressed our brains do not work so well which is neither good for our health not for the effectiveness of our work.  Some of the stress we experience is because of those interactions with each other.  Mostly we do not mean to cause each other stress, but in our ever increasing rush we are often not aware of the impact we are having on others, and when we experience that impact from others we often lack the courage  to call it out, just as we often lack the sense of self worth to put our health and wellbeing on the agenda of our work relationships .  The Charter encourages us all to be more mindful, more thoughtful, about what we are doing and our impact on others, and gives each of us the permission and a framework to have those conversations.

On 8 October we celebrated the second anniversary of the Charter.  The existing 55 signatories were joined by ten new organisations from around the world:

  • Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP 
  • BMO Financial Group (the legal and regulatory compliance group for EMEA) 
  • Charles Russell Speechlys LLP
  • Cooley (UK) LLP 
  • PLMJ – our first European mainland headquartered organisation
  • Sarthak Advocates & Solicitors – our first Indian signatory organisation
  • Social Investment Scotland 
  • Sullivan & Cromwell LLP (their London office)
  • Summit Law LLP
  • Zico Law - our first Asian headquartered signatory organisation

It is fantastic to see so many new organisations wanting to get involved, and to see the increasing global impact of this work.

As well as welcoming those new signatories we heard from Dr Rumina Taylor, a clinical psychologist from Hello Self, a leading clinical psychology clinic using tech to increase access to psychology services.  Rumina guided us through the sorts of mental health issues we should be looking out for in ourselves and in our people as the Covid pandemic continues.  We also heard from leading silk and coach James Pereira QC  James focussed on how clients and instructing solicitors can work more effectively with the Bar - but his insistence that in any relationship there are the two individuals and then a third entity which is the relationship itself and which is needing of investment and care is a thought that can be applied to any relationship, at work or elsewhere.  The idea that we should make the time to discuss the relationship and how it can best function is central to the Mindful Business Charter.

The Charter calls for us to be more thoughtful, more mindful, of the way we work and its impact upon ourselves and those around us. Few of us have experienced a period of such collective angst, uncertainty and wholesale change as we have experienced over the last months and continue to experience. Our reactions to that, and our ability to work effectively through it, will define the world of business, and the health of those working in it, for decades. We are reshaping what work means. The Charter provides us with the permission and the courage to do so in a more healthy and effective way.

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