Smashing the Mental Health Stigma
My guest Rob Stephenson is a mental health campaigner. He’s the creator of FormScore that helps you work out how well you’re feeling, and he’s about to pull off the first global 24 hour mental health virtual summit. By the time you listen to this episode, he should be fully recovered!
Rob has his own story of mental ill-health which he shared with me. What’s remarkable is that he only recently came clean about why he spent so many years hiding from people he worked with. Once he accepted his condition and talked about it, he felt a burden lift. He says being open about it is not a cure, but it relieved the burden of keeping it a secret.
He is campaigning for a change of attitudes and support for mental health. He wants to smash the stigma, and he’s enlisting the help of senior leaders. Some of whom he invites to be listed on LeaderBoard, an annual list of leaders who are open about their experience with mental ill-health.
So I was curious about how his conversations sound, what they look and feel like. He describes himself as a strong man who has learned to be open and authentic. To talk about his vulnerability in a way that is disarming and gives others permission to share their struggles too.
One of my questions was what he would say to leaders who would like to demonstrate the same vulnerability that he has found but are apprehensive about how that might change other people’s perception of them and another question was how well equipped he believes our teenagers may be in expressing their emotions …but I began first by asking Rob who he needs to influence on the mental health agenda.
2:48 – Who Rob needs to influence
3:34 – Example of a conversation to influence
4:43 – What’s important about how he comes across
5:28 – Rob sharing his mental health story
7:40 – About acceptance
9:59 – Removing the burden, human connection, uplifting conversations
12:55 – Vulnerability
14:18 – Creating safe spaces
14:55 – Hesitating to share or to be vulnerable
18:31 – FormScore posting daily, people’s response to his score
22:21 – Conversation skills that make for great human connection
23:34 – What Rob is good at in those conversations
24:19 – Holding a space (silence) for someone wanting to share their secret
28:39 – Conversation skills he’s found hardest to adopt
30:07 – What gets in the way of good conversations
31:08 – Do leaders need to have all the answers?
32:14 – Leaders changing their minds
33:49 – What Rob would like to achieve in the next 12 months
34:49 – Global 24-hour virtual mental health summit
37:12 – Will our teenagers be better at talking about their emotions?
42:19 – Parenting under lockdown
45:39 – Ask the question, “How are you today?” and answering honestly
Better Conversations with me Sehaam Cyrene where we have conversations about good conversations, rubbish conversations, and thought-provoking conversations. My guests are candid, open and disarmingly intimate about their conversation habits.