– breaking the stigma of mental ill-health in the workplace

As most of my contacts are now aware, I am bipolar. I am also on a mission to help break the stigma of mental ill-health in the workplace. Recently, I updated my Linkedin profile to include and I also want to be open here about what I am trying to do.


We need more role models
Since campaigner, Geoff McDonald, inspired me to be open about my own mental illness, I have done a lot of listening. Where the workplace is concerned, the thing I have heard time and time again is that we have a lack of role models at executive levels. Our twitter poll (conducted by our communications partner and social enterprise supporter, Oxygen) agrees.

We are also conducting a more comprehensive survey here.
This is a social enterprise with a mission of smashing the stigma of mental ill-health in the workplace. A lot of people and organisations are working towards this goal and I am keen to collaborate with you. InsideOut is intended to be a small contribution to the bigger movement.

Inspired by the excellent work of Suki Sandhu (Out-standing) and Karen Mattison MBE (with and Timewise Power 50), we are looking to create a ripple effect by publishing a list of business executive role models who are prepared to share their experiences of mental ill-health.


The InsideOut List
Each year, in partnership with our media partner we publish a list of executives who have shared their experience of mental ill-health. The list is designed to celebrate each business executive who has decided to be open, thus playing their part in ending the stigma and helping others in their organisation to speak out and seek help.
We will grow the list each year, creating a ripple effect of more and more role models speaking out until it is as normal to talk about mental ill-health in the business world as it is to disclose a broken leg.


The list has the following goals:
• Demonstrate and celebrate the fact that mental ill-health does not prevent executives (or anyone else) being successful in business
• Stimulate further dialogue in respect of the stigma of mental ill-health in the workplace
• Encourage other executives to champion the cause by speaking out and create further momentum
• Highlight how the stigma is broken down over time as more executives make the list eg the InsideOut 30 becomes the InsideOut 50 in year 2 and 100 in year 3
• Ultimately help make our workplaces healthier, happier and more productive places.


I need some help
I have been told that this will be impossible.
I have been told that there is not a big enough universe of executives who fit the criteria.
I have been told that no-one will publish the list.
It is difficult? Yes. Impossible? No.


To get the list off the ground I need three things:
1. Corporate sponsorship. We are also looking to partner with a small number of founding sponsors who want to make a difference in respect of the mental health agenda.
2. Media Partner. We are keen to work with a media partner who understands the need to celebrate business executive role models and are passionate about being part of creating the ripple effect which will help end the stigma associated with mental ill-health.
3. Role Models. We are keen to talk to executives who feel that they could be part of the list, either now or in the future.
We are talking to all of these at the moment but welcome more conversations.


The People’s List
As we get to work on getting InsideOut off the ground, we wanted to build an online list of people who have spoken out about their own experiences of mental ill-health. The aim of the People’s List is to show that a significant population of role models already exist at all levels within our business community.

This list will also be instrumental in demonstrating the ripple effect as more and more people agree to be part of it, slowly smashing the stigma of mental ill-health in the workplace.

We would be delighted to speak to people who would be interested in being part of the People’s List and you can register here.


A note on the name
InsideOut is all about bringing what is on the Inside.. Out. It is also about turning the perceptions of mental ill-health inside out.
We are not connected with the amazing Lloyds Banking Group campaign #GetTheInsideOut but are blown away by what they are doing.
We are also not connected with the Disney movie, Inside Out, but think that it is a great insight into what goes on inside our heads.


How can you help?
Simply, if you like the sound of what we are trying to do, please share this article with your network or introduce me to contacts as appropriate via

Thanks for reading.

Rob Stephenson

Rob Stephenson

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