This is one of my favourite weeks of the year ~ National Mental Health Awareness Week ~ and I’m going on the road.
Here’s a newspaper story ~ second item ~ about what I’ll be up to in Windsor, Ontario on Thursday at the Canadian Mental Health Association Windsor-Essex County Branch Make It Work Conference. I love the focus of this conference.
“Creating a respectful workplace, understanding mental illness, accommodations for mental illness in the workplace, grief and its impact on the workforce and recognizing the signs of mental illness with your professional team.”
Mental health in the workplace is a hot topic these days…
The day before I speak in Windsor, I’m opening another conference in Canada’s capital, Ottawa.
“I’ll be setting the tone,” so to speak, at 8:45 a.m. on the day of the conference.
According to my speakers agreement, I’ll be “providing some insight on a combination of my experiences including ‘Why should there be a difference between the way people view mental versus physical illnesses. Talking turkey about the real issues’ and ‘Mental illnesses in the workplace, what employers can do.”
I know what I’ve always done. I’ve educated my employers…
What a wild and crazy week this is going to be…
Three days this week, I’ll be in two cities, giving two presentations, flying on two different airlines, from two different Toronto airports, and inspiring an exciting exchange of ideas ~ I hope. At both conferences, I’ll be speaking about a subject close to my heart.
For over 30 years, I’ve actively promoted workplace understanding, education and accommodation for people like me with mental health challenges ~ through my writing and advocacy. Since 2002 and it’s inception, I’ve volunteered for the Ontario Branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association‘s Mental Health Works program. We started in Ontario and now we’re in five of Canada’s 10 provinces.
This is my passion. This keeps me alive…
This is what I teach in my “Leadership in Society” course at Seneca.
Working together with a group of people who share a vision for positive change that will benefit all of society ~ the greater good.
My Wednesday talk in Ottawa is at the fifth annual Building Healthier Workplaces ~ and this year’s theme is Addressing the Growing Impact of Mental Health.
At both these talks I do not give a formal speech. That’s not my style.
I’m not your typical conference presenter…
I’ve been there and done that, and now ~ thanks to my teaching ~ I’ve developed a much more engaging presentation style, I think. I’ll let you know when I get back on Thursday night. (I do not have a laptop, so I’ll be computerless on the road. Just me and my trusty little iPhone.)
No PowerPoint presentations, no podium, no stilted lecture format.
I love being interrupted when I speak, to follow the threads of people’s questions…
From my teaching I’ve learned that the most engaging way to interact with people is to be with them and not up above on an elevated stage. I tell my stories, but I encourage people to interrupt when they have a question ~ not wait until the end. No two presentations of mine are ever the same ~ I tend to play to specific audiences. To sense them out.
I find, this way, we all learn so much, from each other because we all have so much to share. I’m no expert. Just a catalyst.
Rather, like The Phil Donahue Show, I use a chordless microphone and I wander about the room, among the conference delegates, engaging with them, talking to them, answering their questions, encouraging interactivity and participation.
You know me ~ “No Secrets, No Lies.”
At the Windsor Conference, I’ll be a luncheon keynote. You can be sure I’ll ask everyone to get up, out of their seats and do some deep breathing to clear the cobwebs and refresh their minds.
This technique works wonders when I teach early morning classes my students aren’t entirely awake. It’s the same after lunch at conferences where people have been sitting all day and after lunch, too much of their bodies’ energies are focused on digestion. I want curious, focused, open minds. I want to hear people’s real concerns and I’m open.
Since at both conferences the delegates will be human resources leaders, occupational health and safety and organizational development personnel, this is going to be interesting.
I’ll be reporting to you the instant I get home on Thursday night. I hope I’ll have lots of intriguing stories to tell you and more insights to shed on the workplace and what’s happening. I’ve heard some horror stories lately and it’s time for change. Now.
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By the way, I love October. It’s utterly exquisite here. And I’m feeling optimistic about this week. Besides, this afternoon, I made my mother’s sensational Super Duper Cranberry Chutney and some fabulous apple sauce. And next weekend, it’s Thanksgiving.
I hope you have a great week and we’ll speak soon.