Irish Times | Olive Keogh

“In 2008, I was 20 years into a career with Unilever. Then all of a sudden, at midnight on January 25th, 2008, I had a panic attack. It was the start of a three-month battle with depression and anxiety. The following day, when I was diagnosed with depression, I made a decision that saved my life: not to be burdened by the stigma.

“Sure I was scared, but the response from others when I shared my illness was amazing. I had feared that people would see me as weak, but instead they told me I was courageous.”

These are the words of Geoff McDonald, former global vice-president for human resources at Unilever, whose mission is to bring mental health out of the closet. McDonald is passionate about breaking down the taboos not least because he lost a close friend to suicide.

As far as McDonald is concerned, it was fear of stigma and societal repercussions that killed his friend, who felt compelled to hide his illness. Through his movement, Minds At Work, McDonald is encouraging managers of big and small companies alike to put their weight behind mental health awareness and initiatives within their organisations.

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