My reflections on last nights ball, by Caroline

Last night Darren and myself attended the Nottingham chartered accountant student society ball. This was a large scale dinner event, black-tie, that hosted approximately 500 attendees.

We had the privilege of being invited as one of the supported charities for the committee to raise money for.

Little did I know when I accepted the dinner and speaker invite that I would be addressing such a large audience.

For those who know me I often end up, as CEO of Harmless, in some rather random and obscure situations.

It has become a little bit of a joke because I have come to understand that my role is so varied that we never really know what is coming next. However, I do experience high rates of anxiety in the attendance of such events because in my words I hold the power to either engage or disengage an audience and that responsibility terrifies me.

I am often asked what suicide prevention looks like.

Sometimes it looks like my frontline staff providing the dedicated support to people in distress to ensure that they are safe and well.

Sometimes it looks like me in a ballgown attending a black-tie dinner, addressing an audience of 500 people from the corporate world who would not be expecting to be listening to someone talk about suicide and wellness and mental health in the workplace.

Whilst it was an absolute privilege to attend such a wonderful dinner it is also part of the work and for me, when I stand in front of an audience of that size, the enormity of the responsibility I have really dawns on me – but I do it anyway!

Suicide prevention, as I said last night in my speech, starts with a conversation. It starts with daring to ask your colleague how they are really doing. It starts with reaching out for help when you feel then maybe none.

It starts when you listen to a random woman standing at the front of a large room, shaking with anxiety, telling you to reach out.

Thank you to all of those who took the time to come and thank us for our attendance and for telling me how my words had impacted you on your own personal journeys. I use the word privilege a lot, but privilege is exactly what it is to have others share with you there courageous and vulnerable stories of distress, recovery and hope. I thank you for sharing those stories with me and I will always be humbled by people’s willingness to do so.

I hope that this is yet another endeavour that will reach people who would otherwise not have been reached and start another conversation about workplace well-being that Harmless can be a part of in 2020.

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