Ross is CEO of the Anglican Church Growth Corporation (ACGC) and former Vice President and Executive Director of Strategic Growth, Jacobs’ AsiaPac and Middle East Region. He is passionate about the importance of preventative action and prioritising and maintaining positive mental health.
Ross has shared his personal mental health journey with people all over the world to raise awareness, inspire others and reduce stigma.
After having experienced symptoms of mental ill-health for quite a while, Ross knew something was not right but did not seek help. After what Ross describes as a breakdown, he was diagnosed with a major depressive event by a GP, something he wished he could have avoided by seeking help earlier.
A combination of changes, including medical interventions and support from his workplace, helped his recovery. Ross encourages others to seek help early to avoid ill-health by talking to someone you trust, your GP, or other healthcare professional.
“I think it’s important to take preventative action to maintain positive mental health, but also to normalise mental illness so that workplaces can create an environment where it is okay for people to put their hand up and ask for help.”
Ross is a firm believer that leadership in mental health initiatives at work results in a positive change in behaviour, and cost should not be an issue in implementing mentally healthy workplace programs, as creating a mentally healthy workplace is the right thing to do.
Leading mentally healthy workplaces
being proactive about planning a healthy work-life balance
checking in with trusted people to see if they have noticed any changes in mood or behaviour
looking at all things as an opportunity to learn rather than defining success or failure.
trying to live in, and enjoy, the moment
being comfortable in his own skin rather than trying to impress others
spending less time with people who complain and more time with people who look at possibilities
setting achievable goals and checking them off when achieved
The not-for-profit sector provides vital services to many people in need but working in such a rewarding sector comes with unique challenges. Ross speaks about mental health challenges in the not-for-profit industry, such as lack of resources, funding, dealing with challenging situations when providing a service and encourages leaders to take action.
During his time at Jacobs Ross led the way by pioneering an award-winning mental health program that has been implemented globally to benefit Jacobs’ 75,000 engineers, scientists, architects and planners. Some of the initiatives included:
Awareness-raising workshops by Beyond Blue.
Implementing a Mental Health Check-in process, which involves combining wearable technology with an online survey to help staff understand how their mental health is tracking.
Introducing the Positive Mental Health Champions initiative – training mental health champions in each office.
Engaging a workplace EAP provider.
Supporting community events such as Movember.
Mental health training for managers and workers.
Making executive leadership commitment to staff mental health clear at new staff inductions, so that staff knew from day one that creating a mentally healthy workplace was part of Jacobs' DNA.
Promoting an open and inclusive workplace culture by encouraging executive leadership to share their direct or indirect experiences with mental illness to reduce stigma.
Moving mental health into an Inclusion & Diversity portfolio, each of which had a senior executive sponsor.
Pulling all of these initiatives together into the “Your Mind Matters” digital desktop toolkit, so that all of the Jacobs’ mental health resources were available at the click of a button.
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