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Touching One Million Lives

Originally Published on November 12, 2020

I’ve been a psychologist for more than 25 years.

I’ve sat alongside children, teenagers, adults. Brilliant leaders and athletes, and people managing pain or loss. Productive, positive, high performing people in many cases, who also happened to find getting out of bed some days overwhelmingly immobilising.

Many times I’d drive home at night feeling humbled, hopeful, distracted, in awe, and occasionally tearful. Most thrived from their low points. Some would say they just survived. Some did not survive and their stories remain as clear in my memory as their faces.

When I first started talking with Jacobs about measuring employee mental health a few years ago, they just got it. It was like if you ask someone if they want to kick a ball around with you and they nail a goal from outside 50.

As I landed back in Australia after the presentation, I had a email from one of the most visionary and humble leaders I’ve ever met. Paul Hendry, Global VP, HSE at Jacobs.

He said “We can’t stop here.” And One Million Lives was born.

Mental health can be different, but it won’t come from me and it won’t come from Jacobs. It will come from all of us. Most of the thousands of people I have met – even those who end up doing themselves the honour of walking into a psychologist’s office, have never measured their own mental health. They’ve had temperature checks, blood tests, been immunised, had mammograms, prostate checks, skin cancer checks, dental checks and allergy tests - all with few or no symptoms.

But for a health issue that takes a million lives every year, costs $180B annually to the Australian economy alone, kills more young adults than any other health issue, is the third greatest cause of disability, and is foreseeable for 45% of us at some stage – they’ve never had a mental health check.

A check would have allowed them to understand how they are tracking, manage early risks and pay attention to their mental health in a measurable way before they had no choice. Measuring mental health even when we think our mental health is ok is the first step. The check in will give you pre-scores about what you can do to get in front of your wellbeing, and let others know there is no shame in checking.

One Million Lives was borne to remind us that the solution can be in our hands, together.

  1. Grab a coffee, go to the website and take 5 minutes to complete your own free mental health profile.

  2. Follow your own recommendations and help move the stigma by talking about your results.

  3. Tag and share with family and friends that you are helping touch one million lives

OML will ripple though and touch a life of someone you may not even know. If you are a leader, an employer, a colleague, community member, father, sister or parent… If you’ve ever wanted to help reduce the stigma, even if you are well, please head to

Immeasurable thanks also to Patrick Hill, Hannah Waters, Ross Jones, Tom Parsons, Amanda Aldred, Katie Moore and so many others. Also to the team at Northern Star Resources and Stuart Tonkin for their support of my time on this project and their own industry leadership in this space.

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