Combating loneliness: Speakers for Mental Health Awareness Week

Mental Health Awareness Week commences on Monday 9th May this year.  What I didn’t realise until recently is that each year has an official theme, with the 2022 campaign focusing on loneliness.

During the last couple of years, we’ve all acutely felt the impact of long periods of isolation in one way or another, but what does this mean for our longer-term health and wellbeing?  Will working from home damage our ability to forge and maintain meaningful connections, and what does this mean for our professional development?  I’m not sure we’re going to have the answers to a lot of these questions until we’re much further down the line post-Covid, but with May fast approaching, you may want to consider engaging a keynote speaker to mark the occasion, and open up some honest discussion with your colleagues.

Terry Waite

With the news of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s release earlier this year, my mind turned to Terry, who was held hostage in Beirut for almost 5 years – much of which was spent in solitary confinement.  Terry has been captivating audiences as a keynote speaker for many years but I am always taken aback by his thoughtfulness and mental fortitude.  Terry can share some of the coping strategies he developed whilst in isolation when, at many points, it must have seemed like there would be no escape.

Dr Alex George

After first coming into the public eye during the fourth series of Love Island, Alex is now even better known as an advocate for mental health, and uses his platform to raise awareness amongst younger people in particular.  He also talks about his experiences engaging with Number Ten in his role as the UK Mental Health Ambassador.  Most recently he’s joined Classic FM to present a Sunday night show exploring the power of classical music to revitalise the body and mind.

Belinda Parmar OBE

Belinda doesn’t fall into the obvious mental health keynote speakers box, but she does talk about an essential action for the creation of a safe and inclusive working culture – empathy.  With many stories currently in the headlines of bosses demonstrating a distinct lack of it, Belinda explains why leaders must now make way for an ‘empathy revolution’, and really scrutinise their language and gestures if they’re to cultivate a happy and healthy workforce.

Poorna Bell

Poorna has had a distinguished career in journalism, but she’s also a keynote speaker on mental health and wellbeing (plus lots of other subjects).  Poorna’s husband took his own life after struggling with his mental health for many years, and so she has a deep understanding of grief, as well as how to support others around you, and manage the pressures of modern living.  I also follow her on Instagram for her wise words on celebrating singledom, in a society which generally validates being in a relationship over the choice to be alone.  Check in on your single friends!

Mohsin Zaidi

One of my all-time favourite keynote speakers, Mohsin is so funny and cheeky that it’s sometimes hard to believe he’s faced challenges with his mental health.  But that’s the point, I suppose – it affects us all, and you never really know what’s going on in someone’s life, or what they’ve been through in order to make it to today.  Mohsin addresses mental health stigma, shame and prejudice, and accepting what makes you unique.  You’ll leave a session with Mohsin feeling like you’ve made a new friend.

I think most people and employers now recognise mental health is a really important thing to talk about, but hopefully this gives you a few fresh ideas for keynote speakers who are pushing the conversation forward, as we all try to navigate our own way through increasingly isolating and turbulent times.

To book any of the above for your event contact JLA here.

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