Can you tell us about your current role and where you work?

I am the Director of Thrive, a wellbeing consultancy based in Surrey.   We specialise in population mental health and wellbeing, with a focus on resilience and supporting organisations to create mentally healthy systems that enable people and communities to flourish.  I am the UK Mental Health Advisor to Movember and the Lead Associate for Population Mental Health for Implemental (a Community Interest Company (CiC) dedicated to improving global mental health).  At present I am undertaking health impact assessments on green infrastructure in Wales and housing regeneration projects in London.

What is your favourite part of your role?

I am fortunate that I enjoy most aspects of my role.  However, I am particularly passionate those pieces of public health work that involve service transformation and development.   I really enjoy the practical process of moving from discovery to design and on to implementation and evaluation. 

Can you give us an overview of your career path?

Well, it’s certainly not been a straight road!  After graduating with a B. Sc. in Sociology from Surrey University, I worked in a day centre for adults with learning difficulties but quickly moved onto setting up Status Employment, a charity offering an alternative to day care by supporting people into paid work.  I am very proud that it is still going strong today, almost thirty years later.  I then moved into the mental health field at the South London and Maudsley NHS Trust where I restructured day care services and developed employment services for people with mental health issues.  At this time, I realised that having a job, with all that it brings - economic security, purpose, a sense of status and opportunities to meet new people - can have a significant impact on people’s mental health.   As a result, I became extremely interested in the importance of the wider determinants of health.   Fortunately, I had a supportive and forward-thinking boss who expanded my role to include the development of partnerships with non-health organisations including local authorities, housing providers, and education.  My expanded remit involved considering ways in which we could support our partners capacity regarding mental health and wellbeing.  This ultimately led to me writing the Trust’s Mental Health Promotion Strategy and establishing a mental health promotion service to deliver it.    During this time, I began working internationally providing training and advice relating to mental health promotion and prevention to health ministries and mental health commissions.  This led me to my biggest career change – managing university student accommodation at Wollongong University in Australia.  For many, being responsible for 1250 young people 24/7 for 44 weeks of the year is their idea of a nightmare, but for me it was a health promotion dream!  Three years later I decided to work full-time as an independent consultant providing training and advice on population mental health, the result of which is Thrive.  So, no particular career pathway, more of a winding road with a few side-tracks!

In your role, how do you support/improve the public’s health and wellbeing?

The biggest contribution that I make is in supporting organisations to understand the important role that they play in protecting and promoting the mental health of their staff and communities and providing practical steps that maximise wellbeing. 

What area(s) of public health are you the most passionate about?

My passion has always been systems and environments and how they shape both physical and mental health. 

How did you find out about RSPH and what do you enjoy most about your membership?

I was introduced to the team at RSPH about 15 years ago when I was asked to help write a mental wellbeing course and have been involved on and off ever since.  I have really enjoyed the RSPH webinars series.  I have also been fortunate enough to be an assessor for the RSPH Health and Wellbeing Awards, which involves working with a great team of public health professionals and learning about innovative projects that are pushing the boundaries of population health.

What do you do to take care of your own health and wellbeing?

No earth-shattering insights from me I afraid. I walk my dogs every day, eat healthily, spend time with my family and try to get seven hours sleep.  It works for me!