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Starting the conversation around mental health



Following the death of David Adiseshan late last year, a close personal friend of Conexus Financial chief executive Colin Tate, Conexus has created an event on October 11 during Mental Health Week, which will serve two purposes: to give an insight into the impacts of suicide, and to raise money for Lifeline. The event will be hosted at the Perpetual offices in Sydney.

“The loss of David was a terrible thing, and one that many across the industry would have felt,” says Tate. “From conversations with his wife Liz, we decided to create an event that helps shine a light on what feels like an epidemic in the financial industry: suicide.

“We want the night to be filled with stories, from David’s friends and family, so that we can better understand the impacts of making that decision. We also want to have people on the stage who can provide valuable and actionable information so that anyone in attendance that may be concerned about a friend or colleague can take that first step to helping them.”

The night will feature a panel of speakers that will provide insights into the impact of suicide on those around the person. It will include an address by noted mental health campaigner and chair of Lifeline, John Brogden AO. Liz Hastings, the wife of David Adiseshan, will talk about the events leading up to and after her partner’s decision to end his own life late last year. Close friend of David, Ian Webber from Ariel Investments, will also speak to the attendees.

The event will close with an address by leading psychologist and Communicorp principal psychologist Dr Laura Kirby, who will give advice and insights into how someone can start a conversation if they are concerned about the mental wellbeing of a colleague of friend.

Industry mental health advocates Superfriend have been involved in the planning and sourcing of speakers for the event.

“The financial services industry experiences one of the highest rates of mental health conditions in the workforce, with 33 per cent of people experiencing a mental health condition,” says Margo Lydon, chief executive officer of Superfriend. “Suicide is the leading cause of death for men and women under the age of 44 in Australia. In 2014, Australia lost more than 2800 lives to suicide, more than double the national road toll for that year.

“Thinking about these terrible statistics in the context of your workplace – your staff and colleagues – it is important to understand your obligations under the law, as well as your opportunity to provide a working environment that actually improves the mental health of your people whilst adding value to the bottom line.

“The main barriers to taking action and investing in workplace mental health and wellbeing include lack of skills and training for managers, lack of time, and lack of understanding.

Conexus Financial is currently working on a calendar of events for 2017 that will continue the conversation around mental health, including an event in March that will bring together leading experts from up to seven countries around the world as part of the International Initiative for Mental Health Leadership.

Conexus Financial will be raising funds for Lifeline on the night and in the weeks leading up to the event. Registrations are complimentary. For further information or to register, please click here.