Look after yourself, look after others
It wasn’t so long ago the subject of mental illness was a taboo subject. Open discussion amongst friends, colleagues and family simply didn’t happen. Sharing of feelings and emotions? Well no, that simply wasn’t the British way. A stiff upper lip and “pull yourself together” attitude much more where it was at.
Thankfully times are changing. And not a moment too soon.
Those organising conferences and events today find themselves working in one of most pressurised and stressful roles there is. And many are meetingsclub Members either working as full time event managers or EAs and PAs called upon by their bosses to deliver conferences and meetings alongside their many other day to day responsibilities.
But what is the true picture? If you’re suffering from mental illness where can you go for help and support? How can you implement personal coping strategies when the pressure’s on? And who’s out there that can actually shape event content from a wellbeing point of view? A lot of questions!
In this Wellbeing Special, meetingsclub answers these and many other questions in a series of interviews, video features and articles with key people from within the event, hotel and administration world:
- Mental Health – The stats don’t lie
- Helen Moon – Founder of the UK Event Wellbeing Week shares her personal journey – #itsoktonotbeok
- Leigh Cowlishaw – Director, HBAA – Becoming a Mental Health First Aider
- Elena Clowes – First Steps – Entering the World of Events can be tough, but help is at hand
- Nicky Morgan – POINT3 Wellbeing – On a mission to help people stress less and smile more!
- Amanda Thurlow – Gym and Tonic – Raising health and wellbeing as a priority for the event industry
- Jeremy McCarthy – Group Director of Spas and Wellbeing Mandarin Oriental -The Psychology of Spas and Wellbeing
- Brighter Spaces – a Wellness and Wellbeing Venue
- Mad World Summit 2019 – Wellbeing strategies for your organisation
THE STATS DON’T LIE
Event Coordination and Planning is right up there when it comes to the most stressful jobs in the World. In the 2018 CareerCast survey, it ranked as Number 5 only beaten by military personnel, police & fire officers and airline pilots.
Earlier this year, the Meetings and Incentive Travel 2019 Health Survey revealed an industry “on the brink”. The results make worrying reading.
And according to a recent survey by Mind the Mental Health Charity, more than one in five agreed that they had called in sick to avoid work and forty two per cent had considered resigning when asked how workplace stress had affected them. Thirty per cent of respondents felt they wouldn’t be able to talk openly with their line manager if feeling stressed. And interestingly 56 per cent of employers said they would like to do more to improve staff wellbeing but didn’t feel they had the right training or guidance.
Depression, anxiety and similar conditions are without doubt on the rise, but why so much in the world of events? Nicky Morgan, Co-Founder of POINT3 WellBeing, a consultancy that focuses on the total health and fitness of people at work and home is in no doubt. “Events are all about immoveable deadlines, it has to happen on the day. It’s a big responsibility played out in front of customers, colleagues and clients. Peoples’ lives are in your hands, there’s lots of last minute changes often outside of your control. As Event Managers, you’re constantly on high alert – fight or flight – with stress hormones cortisol and adrenalin playing their part.”
And if that wasn’t enough, there’s also technology and social media of course which appears to be adding to the pressure. So much so, that digital detoxes are now a really hot topic with increasing academic evidence that too much technology and in particular ever present social media can have a really negative effect on mental and physical health. This area is documented in particular by the Global Wellness Institute – Digital Wellness Initiative who’s Initiative Chair is Jeremy McCarthy, Group Director of Spa & Wellness at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group and who meetingsclub exclusively spoke to.
But it’s certainly not all doom and gloom. Help is out there, as meetingsclub found out and shares below
HELEN MOON – #itsoktonotbeok
Helen Moon is an Event & Marketing Director with over 20 years experience in the hotels and events industry and is presently the Marketing & Communications Manager for the Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust. The Founder and Managing Director of EWL ‘The Eventprofs unNetworking Network’ Helen is also Managing Director at EventWell and Co-Founder of UK Event Wellbeing Week which this year is being held between the 16th and 21st September 2019. Research undertaken by EventWell has highlighted that 1 in 3 event professionals will suffer from a mental health episode at some point in their career, with ten percent suffering right now or within the past year. Helen in an open, honest and frank interview discusses her personal journey to change people’s perceptions about mental health.
LEIGH COWLISHAW – MENTAL HEALTH FIRST AID
Leigh Cowlishaw, past Chair of the HBAA and current Board Member is leading an HBAA board initiative to raise awareness of mental health within the hotel industry. Having recently become a Mental Health First Aider herself, Leigh has been instrumental in setting up a series of open MHFA England accredited Mental Health First Aid Courses. Now members and non-members are able to train their staff to become qualified and receive a recognised qualification. meetingsclub caught up with Leigh who has been overwhelmed by the positive response to news of the courses.
ELENA CLOWES – FIRST STEPS
It can be a stressful time for anyone entering the world of events be it directly from University or later in life after a career change. Corporate business reality can often be different to the lecture theatre. Step forward Elena Clowes Project Manager at an events company, who together with two event manager colleagues have set up First Steps a not for profit initiative which helps people make the transition from education to employment.
“This service would have been really helpful for us when we first started our careers.” commented Clowes on why First Steps was established. “We encourage industry newcomers to forge their own career path and to basically help people in their first few years of their career, highlighting what the industry can offer and the different areas there are to work in. At university we talked a lot about Glastonbury and the FIFA World Cup, but we didn’t really talk about how intense and long the hours are when working in events or what’s expected of you. It’s therefore a bit of a shock to some people.”
Elena is passionate about wellbeing and managing stress as well as helping people obtain a better work life balance. “Event organisers are all ‘control freaks’ and it’s easy for unplanned factors to cause stress, even for good event planners who can see things coming. Stress can often be self–induced because we want everything to be perfect and because many event planners like to be in total control.”
Recognising that many people thrive under pressure and the buzz of events, Elena is the first to agree that everyone has a different personality and people deal in different ways with stress and pressure. “Some go quiet and want to focus, others show it more openly in their activities and behaviour. And when these two types interact, they can stress each other out with often the more outgoing person concerned that a quieter person doesn’t outwardly care when in actual fact they both care just as much.”
Elena’s Top Tips for managing stress:
- Sleep – Get into a good sleep pattern
- Diet and nutrition – Eat more healthier even when you’re on the go
- Exercise – Take regular exercise so you can take your mind off work. Running or going to the gym really does make a difference and helps you sleep
- Chill out zone – Consider creating a quiet area in the office which is free from phones and technology and where you can go for ten minutes
- Company culture – Encourage everyone in the office to respect everyone’s wellbeing, look out for each other and signs of burnout. “Maybe you need a break. What can I do to help”?
First Steps have an event programme that is certainly worth checking out. The informal, social networking events are free, without any pressure and are ideal for industry newbies to meet and share experiences. In addition, there are more structured events where senior industry professionals share their career journey creating a safe environment to ask questions and find out more.
NICKY MORGAN – POINT3 WELLBEING
POINT3 Wellbeing are on a mission. To help people stress less and smile more! Working with people and organisations to embed wellbeing into the workplace, this innovative company use a mixture of consultancy, talks, workshops and classes to support people to make positive, sustainable changes to their lifestyle and improve work-life balance.
Nicky Morgan has been in the events industry and has personally experienced the pressure and high stress live events can create. Together with two former marketing & event colleagues, she has co-founded POINT3 and now spends her time helping equip people with tools to prevent stress and burnout. Morgan is of firm opinion that Wellbeing must be woven into the fabric of an organisation from the top down and that staff need to see leaders of the business walking the talk and creating a culture where people can talk about openly.
“We understand first-hand the pressure of working around the clock in a fast-paced corporate environment, and the struggles to find balance between work and life. So, we’ve created a range of products and services that help people gain awareness, balance and control in order to help them be their most productive, fulfilled and happiest selves.”
POINT3’s approach to helping people manage the effects of modern day stress is very much prevention rather than cure. Their creative programmes raise awareness of wellbeing through simple and effective practices including movement + mindfulness which are widely recognised for the benefits they of in managing the effects of stress and increasing happiness.
Reasons to move more:
- Increase happiness
- Improve sleep
- Boost performance and productivity
- Boost motivation and mental concentration
- Decrease anxiety and depression
- Reduce risk of coronary heart disease, strokes and early death
British Heart Foundation Physical Inactivity and Sedentary Behaviour Report 2017 / Sheffield Hallam study
Reasons to be more mindful:
- Improve memory and cognition
- Decrease anxiety and depression
- Increase productivity
- Increase self-confidence
- Respond rather than react
Programmes run by POINT3 are themed and created to meet any organisations specific requirement. Forty five to ninety minute sessions offer an immersive burst of “wellbeing inspiration” for small or large groups. Sessions can take place in the workplace or at company away days and conferences. Awareness and education are always key focus areas along with the desire to offer a series of practical tools. It’s clear POINT3 are certainly delivering a service which is seeing increasing demand. And with poor mental health costing the economy up to £99 billion per year, together with 300,000 workers leaving their jobs every year on account of a mental health related issues, it’s not difficult to see why. Thriving at Work report, Gov.UK, Oct 2017
AMANDA THURLOW – GYM AND TONIC
RAISING HEALTH AND WELLBEING AS A PRIORITY FOR THE EVENT INDUSTRY
“Never before has health and wellbeing been so high on the agenda of event planners. Not only in the context of self-care and ensuring they take time for themselves in what is a demanding career, but also in terms of providing opportunities for their event attendees to workout, reflect and eat well.” Amanda Thurlow, Event Planner and Content Creator.
Amanda kindly shares her personal experience with meetingsclub of taking part in an exciting health and wellbeing bootcamp, highlighting why nutrition and exercise are so important within the world of events.
JEREMY MCCARTHY – THE PSYCHOLOGY OF SPAS & WELLBEING
Jeremy McCarthy, Group Director of Spa & Wellness at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group has over 25 years of experience operating luxury spas in resort and hotel properties worldwide. He is the author of ‘The Psychology of Spas & Wellness’ and hosts a blog about holistic wellbeing called Psychology of Wellbeing. He is also the chair of the Digital Wellness Initiative for the Global Wellness Institute. meetingsclub caught up with Jeremy at his Hong Kong base as news broke that the International SPA Association (ISPA) will present their 2019 Visionary Award to Jeremy. “Jeremy’s forward-thinking approach to spa leadership has inspired countless industry professionals throughout his career. We are thrilled to recognize his commitment to the industry and look forward to the continued passion he brings to the spa world.” ISPA president Lynne McNees.
WELLNESS AND WELLBEING VENUE – BRIGHTER SPACES
The focus on wellness and wellbeing positively shows no sign of slowing down. Coaching and counselling. Physiotherapy and psychotherapy. Mindfulness and holistic medicine. But the challenge often is where practioners can practice in an affordable, secure and quality workspace. Brighter Spaces, in Islington, North London might just be the answer! Whilst focussing principally for the needs of wellbeing health professionals, they also offer meeting space ideal for those looking to hold an event for up to 10 people. The venue really does come into its own for smaller numbers of between 2-6 delegates and certainly fills a gap for bookers looking for a room(s) to perhaps hold an interview, small private meeting or assessment centre. Check out meetingsclub’s editor’s destination and find out more.
MAD WORLD LONDON SUMMIT OCTOBER 2019
The global conference and exhibition driving workplace mental health and wellbeing strategies
We couldn’t have put it any better ourselves!
“In 2015 Mark Pigou became acutely aware of the impact of mental illness.
Not only did the experience shake Mark and his family to the core, it fundamentally changed his perspective; inspiring him to draw on the networks he has built over the course of many years in business media, to help raise awareness of mental health in the workplace.
Digging deeper, Mark realised that we are at the beginning of a mental health revolution. Whilst understanding that mental health is an issue that transcends generations, he could see that embedding positive and preventative approaches to mental health into the workplace, with the next generation of leaders, is the key to changing attitudes for good.
So it made perfect sense to partner with his old friend and business associate Simon Berger, co-founder of FUTR (formerly Millennial 20/20). This partnership brings Simon’s extensive media connections to the agenda. It also brings fresh perspectives to the conversation, both from influential leaders in established industries and bold disruptors who are setting the benchmark for a new corporate culture.
By adding the millennial curator’s lens of Rupa Ganatra, co-founder of FUTR (formerly Millennial 20/20), the extensive editorial experience of Ian Jindal and the conference direction of Claire Farrow the team was completed.
The scene was set and Mad World Summit was created with a mission: to eradicate stigma and spark a new era of mental health and wellbeing in the workplace. Between them Mark, Simon, Ian, Rupa and Claire bring over 60 years of B2B event experience to Mad World Summit, as well as wide networks across industries; from marketing to retail, smart cities to sustainability.
Feedback to the Mad World Summit 2018 was overwhelmingly positive. There is undoubtedly a pressing need for an event that brings together teams of representatives from different industries to move beyond talk to action and implement practical solutions that will have a lasting impact.
We are committed to meeting that need.”