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Dive In and Speak Up for Mental Health Event Report

There is something really special about a double act. The two handed story telling of Neil Laybourn and Jonny Benjamin MBE is a clever but simple device for conveying different perspectives on the same story. It certainly delivered in Willis Towers Watsons’ packed auditorium this morning in London, when they shared the incredible story of how Neil talked Jonny down from jumping off a bridge. That experience led to their campaign to de-stigmatise mental health issues, raising awareness so that other sufferers can be helped, particularly young people.

Nicolas Aubert, WTW’s CEO welcomed everyone to the event and along with Inga Beale, Lloyd’s CEO, reflected on the growth of the festival from ‘a small wave to a tsunami’ that has moved the Dive In Festival beyond Lloyd’s in London to become an insurance market-wide initiative in 32 cities around the globe.

Dive In has hosted previous events on the subject of mental health but the combination of Neil and Jonny’s incredibly moving personal story, told with such hope and humility left many in the audience visibly moved. Its relevance to the insurance sector was driven home by a short but powerful film made specially for the kick-off event that featured people from the sector speaking up for mental health, either sharing their own stories as sufferers directly or as carers.

Paul Farmer, the CEO of the mental health charity, MIND moderated the Q&A session, inviting Paul Martin of Aon, one of the film’s contributors onto the panel. What came through very clearly from the experiences of the panellists is the need to talk about mental health much more, both at home in schools and in the workplace. Commenting on the predominance of women in the audience, the panel also pointed to the fact that mental health affects many more men than women, but they are harder to reach on the subject. Jonny advised ‘just keep talking, they will be listening’ and the panel concluded with a resounding call to action to make a profound generational change to reframe mental health for the future.