Work Happy: Mental Health in the workplace


Last week we attended ‘Mental Health in the workplace’, as part of Work.Life’s Work Happy event series.

The event began with a talk by Jodie Caris, the Founder and Creative Director of Self Space. Self Space offers a variety of therapy sessions including: 1-1 therapy, couples’ therapy, student sessions, supervision, executive coaching and team dynamic sessions. They believe that ‘Everyday mental maintenance’ is essential.

10 Key takeaways from Jodie:

Mental health, just like physical health, is not a given. You must work on it, as you would your physical health.  Looking after your mental health is a process and requires attention and effort.

Jodie is keen to redefine ‘mental health’ and how we think about it - mental health shouldn’t be associated with illness.

“Good enough, is good enough”- You can only do your best and it is important to remember that is enough.

  1. FEEL:

Ask your self ‘what am I feeling?’, understand your own feelings. Sometimes we can be unsure about what we are feeling, to take time to work this out can bring clarity to difficult situations.

  1. SHARE:

Begin conversations with ‘I feel’- this can soften difficult situations. Sharing how you feel, whether that is overwhelmed or unsure (particularly at a senior level), can make everyone in the workplace feel they are not alone with their feelings.

To voice your own vulnerability, can be helpful for others - “when we are soft, we are very strong, when we are hard, we are brittle”.


Think about your actions, ‘what could I have done differently?’ - reposition your stance on issues. This can transform a workplace culture.

Take your own responsibility, start sentences with ‘I’ not ‘You’.


Make genuine connections. Don’t ask someone how they are unless you have time to listen to the answer - “it’s about reminding yourself to be curious and wondering about the other”. Take time to have a coffee with someone, make sure you don’t solely communicate digitally.


Manage expectations, say no to things - but say why too. Don’t be afraid to admit you can’t do something.


Face issues head on, don’t speak behind people’s backs. Challenge and conflict can be useful and productive.

  1. BE ON TIME:

People forget how important it is to be on time, being late can come across as disrespectful - “we forget how nice it is when someone’s there waiting for you”.


It matters to say thank you - “tell people why you’re thankful they are there”.


Raise people up, give them your time and support.


Take a moment to stop, breathe and think about how you are going to handle a situation: “We always have our breath and the floor beneath us”.

Jodie finished with the importance of people- “Systems can forget about the people. We talk about ‘the people’ but forget what that actually means. What matters in life is how you feel and how you make other people feel”.

Following on from this, there was a panel discussion and audience Q & A.

On the panel Jodie was joined by Samantha Clarke and Toni Jones:

Samantha is a Happiness Consultant and the Founder of Growth & Happiness School- she focuses on making sure people are supported in the workplace and that leaders are able to have difficult conversations.

Toni is a freelance writer and the Founder of Shelf Help- an online and offline community who share a monthly book club dedicated to self-help and self-development. Toni told us how self help books had helped her and she wanted to help others using the same tools.

The panel discussion covered:

  1. What is going wrong with mental health in the workplace?
  2. What can we do to resolve this?
  3. What does good leadership look like?

“What is going wrong with mental health in the workplace?”

  • Jodie finds that people often say ‘I hate my job’ to cover up other things they are unhappy with, outside of work.
  • Samantha focused on how too much tech can limit genuine connections in the workplace, linking to Jodie’s previous point on the importance to ‘connect’.
  • Samantha went on to say that, she finds people often struggle to know how to present their mental health in the workplace.

What can we do to resolve this?

  • Make employees aware of support that is available to them.
  • Open up conversations, don’t be afraid to approach the topic of mental health.
  • Provide opportunities to staff that allows them to unwind and relax- this shouldn’t always be having a drink! Jodie explained she is anti “let’s-get-everyone-pissed-to-say-thank-you” culture, as it can be isolating to some members of the team.

What does good leadership look like?

  • Communicate as much as possible - asking for feedback and not being afraid to hear the answers.
  • Showing clearly what you have implemented as a result of feedback, Samantha mentioned it is worse to ask for feedback and not act on it.
  • For Toni, good leadership looks like "celebrating wins and allowing for failure".
  • Jodie emphasised the importance of ‘purpose’ - “Keep remembering why you’re doing what you’re doing”.
  • Align your vision with your employees - a co-created vision can have better success.
  • Be honest, be engaging and be encouraging.

The event was interesting and insightful - thank you to everyone at Work.Life, Jodie Caris, Samatha Clarke and Toni Jones for a great evening. We are looking forward to attending the 'Work Happy: Building a Happy Company Culture' event on the 16th May.