Ahead of this year’s Changing the Ratio, B&T is sitting down with some of our kick-ass speakers to get an insight into what they’re currently up to, and what they’ll be talking about on the day.
Oh, and if you don’t have your tickets yet, buy them here.
Mitch Wallis, Heart on My Sleeve
Growing up in Sydney, Mitch Wallis lived a very “normal” and privileged life. He was fortunate enough to join Microsoft as an intern when he was 19, the youngest person in the company at the time. After 5 years working in Australia, Mitch was promoted to Microsoft HQ in Seattle USA as global product marketing manager for ‘Surface’ where he led some of the biggest launches in the hardware space for the tech giant.
However, that wasn’t the full story. His inside life wasn’t the perfect Instagram moment. Since the age of 7 years old, Mitch has suffered a lifelong battle with debilitating anxiety, OCD, panic attacks, dissociation and depression which has seem him contemplating taking his life. Two years ago he broke down completely, leaving him unable to continue his life as he knew it. His life crumbled around him. He thought it was all over.
On the 30th May 2017, Mitch released a video of his story, in the hope that someone out there would feel understood and feel less alone. Within one week the video reached over one million people and started a global Movement called Heart On My Sleeve, which is now one of the fastest growing mental health organisations in Australia.
This year is the first year mental health is a point of discussion at Changing the Ratio. B&T asked Wallis why he thought talking about mental health was particularly important at such a forum.
“There’s a bigger issue facing the corporate space at the moment and that’s mental health,” Wallis said.
“Depression is a leading cause of disability globally and costs the economy almost $12 billion a year in just workplace loss of productivity, whether that be from absenteeism, presenteeism, worker’s comp claims and so on. Whether it’s a financial reason or human reason, the fact that it touches the lives of literally every single person who is either going through it or knows something in their greater network who is, makes it important to everyone.”
On whether the advertising and media industry is doing enough to combat mental ill health, Wallis said while there has been some improvement, more could be done.
“I think there’s definitely the right intent and the start of the right actions to make a change, because a change is needed in this industry. Research by Unltd. showed that people in the advertising and media industry over-indexed on mental health issues versus the general population.
“I think that’s a function of being on the agency side and being perpetually whipped by clients for more output with less time, and also the fact that you’re in an industry where you’re selling services as hours versus output. Therefore, if you’re not busy, and you’re not stressed, then you’re not earning money, and that is a very dangerous equation.
“And, it’s just getting more and more competitive. It’s kind of a race to the bottom with the democratisation of creativity and media. It’s a dangerous scenario and we need to be paying particular attention [to mental health] in this industry.”
So, what can you expect to hear from Wallis at this year’s CTR?
“I’ll be talking about how mental ill health affected my career and what the outcome of my story was when I kind of completely fell apart, and some of my core realisations and insights there. Also, using my experience from Heart on My Sleeve and working with major Australian companies and meeting with HR directors, I’ll be talking about the core issues we’re seeing as problematic, and what we’re seeing that’s working positively to help address mental ill health in the corporate space.”
Talking about what Wallis is most excited about for 2020, he said he is eager to launch a new peer support program.
“Basically, our mission is to put a mental health champion into every workplace in Australia so that everyone has a safe space they can turn to because peers are twice as likely to speak to another peer than they are HR or management.
“We’re building a digital hub around that which can connect people with experiences from anywhere in the world with a high compatibility and matching rate, so people feel understood. Often, we just want to be heard more than we need the best advice.
“Plus, I’m also excited about all of our corporate training programs and initiatives. We’re really trying to be the rawest and most real mental health vendor out there that that’s getting to the heart of everything, no pun unintended.”
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