OCTOBER 15TH 2015
WITH SPECIAL GUEST
Kindly sponsored by
John Curran – Guernsey Mind chairman
8.45 – 9.15am Sue Baker – conference chairman and
Director of the Time to Change movement
9.15 – 9.45am Dave Warr – local businessman,
sportsman and charity chief
9.45 – 10.30am John Binns – former partner of Deloitte UK,
Mind UK Ambassador and CEO of Fit4success
10.30 – 11.00am Break
11.00 – 11.30am Chris Griffiths – Creative Director of
Two Degrees North and sports coach
11.30 – 12.15pm Gareth Thomas – former Welsh Rugby
International and motivational speaker
12.15 – 12.45pm Questions
12.45 – 1.00pm Sue Baker to host questions from the floor
At Guernsey Mind we are determined to make a real
difference to help those who experience the symptoms
of poor mental health. While seeking appropriate
professional help early can contribute greatly to a person’s ability
to cope with poor mental health, there remains unfortunately
a real stigma attached to mental health issues which makes it
more difficult for sufferers to admit they need help. It also means
that they may be ashamed to admit to family, friends or work
colleagues that they are struggling and so miss the opportunity
to get support from people who care about them.
I am delighted therefore that Guernsey Mind has secured as our keynote speaker Gareth Thomas
to help us raise awareness of the challenge that stigma can create for mental health sufferers.
Gareth has agreed to speak at our dinner and conference and I am sure that by sharing his own
experience with stigma it will help us start to change perceptions around poor mental health.
A key focus of our work is with employers as we recognize the very large role they can play in
helping their staff who experience mental health issues recover more quickly. I am therefore
very grateful that John Binns from Deloittes is willing to share his story with us a someone who
was in a very senior role in UK business yet had to deal with the stigma attached to how he was
perceived once he admitted publicly he had a mental health condition.
Stigma is a challenge in all communities but it can be even more so in a small community such as
Guernsey. For this reason we wanted to have local speakers who were willing to share their story
and demonstrate that mental health need not limit what one can achieve. Both Dave Warr and
(name) are both well known and highly regarded in their professions. Yet many people may not have
known they both have experienced depression on and off for many years. Both have very kindly
agreed to share their own experience and we are extremely grateful that they are willing to do so.
I am confident that by hearing from our panel of speakers we can start to really tackle the
stigma that is associated with poor mental health so that many in our community who
unfortunately do suffer can be more confident about coming forward and getting the help and
support they need. Given that around one in four of us will suffer from poor mental health at
some stage, by making people aware that they are not alone, that people will genuinely want
to help and support them and that their employers will want to help them rather than hold it
against them, then the sooner we will start to make real progress.
Gareth Thomas is one of the keynote speakers
at Guernsey Mind’s Change for the Good biannual
Gareth has made no secret of his struggles
with depression and poor mental health after
publicly announcing he was gay in 2009 while
competing at the height of his successful career.
The ex-Wales captain has told how he made
several suicide attempts after confessing to his
wife Jemma in 2006 that he had been secretly
homosexual throughout their five-year marriage.
He recalls how the night his wife left him,
he dressed in his best grey suit issued by
the Welsh Rugby Union and headed to
the swimming pool of his home set upon
drowning himself. He also admits to wanting
to jump off a cliff at the height of his despair.
He forged a reputation as one of the toughest
players on the field in a bid he says, to hide
his sexuality. Says Gareth: “I don’t want to be
known as a gay rugby player, I am a rugby
player and foremost a man.”
He has openly talked about his sexuality and his
hopes that his coming out would mean that in
future young gay rugby players would be able
to come out too and be accepted as talented
sportsmen. “Even if one young guy who has
hung up his boots because he is gay, goes back
out there, it will have been worth it”, he says.
His address will also reflect the secondary aim
of the conference, to break down the stigma
attached to mental health issues.
Gareth represented Wales in both rugby union
and rugby league and was the most capped
Welsh rugby union player with 100 test match
appearances until September 2011. He is currently
ranked 12th among international try scorers.
Gareth retired from the sport in October 11
and began a new career in television and as
a charity campaigner and vocal supporter of
resume his career at the same level he left it.
Says John Binns: “There was no culture of
talking about mental health or recognising
that some of our best and brightest people
statistically would have a mental health issue.”
“One day I had this sensation of falling off a
cliff and instead of going into work, I found
myself firing off emails to colleagues, telling
them I was feeling unwell, before bolting out
the door to the doctor’s.
“Looking back, the symptoms were clear: I
couldn’t make simple decisions, such as who
to call into the office for a routine meeting,
or where to start in replying to emails – I was
getting at least 200 a day. I wasn’t sleeping,
my energy levels were low, and I was losing
weight. Everything seemed pointless. Yes, I
can see now I was depressed.”
But knowing that many sufferers of
depression do so in silence, John started
working with mental health charity, Mind and
within Deloitte, to find a way of bringing this
hitherto taboo subject out into the open, and
his eventual return to the workplace drove
John to become a Mind ambassador.
Based on his own personal experience John
has led a wide range of ground breaking
mental health and wellbeing initiatives within
Deloitte UK which have been nationally and
internationally recognised as leading practice.
He is a sought after speaker and advisor to
businesses, typically professional services,
technology, financial services and media
organisations looking to better address the
management of stress in the workplace.
John is currently the Mental Health and
Personal Resilience adviser to Deloitte and
provides this service through his company
Fit4success. John Binns is a Trustee of
UK Mind and an independent advisor on
workplace mental health issues.
Well-known mental health campaigner
and motivational speaker John Binns was a
senior Partner of Deloitte UK when he was
diagnosed with severe depression in 2007.
John had to leave the workplace for a number
of months and expected his career would
be finished, but his colleagues reacted
with“unfaltering kindness” and he was able to
The chairman of the conference is Sue Baker,
Director of the Time to Change Campaign, a
social movement made up of thousands of
individuals and organisations across England
who are all doing their bit to get the nation to
rethink their attitude to mental health.
Says Sue: “Since Time to Change began in
2007 more than two million people have
changed their attitudes and more than ever
are able to be more open about their mental
This is the first project in England that aims to
change behaviour, rather than just attitudes.
But there’s still more to be done until no one
has to face discrimination on the grounds of a
mental health problem. We aim to empower
people to challenge stigma and speak openly
about their own mental health experiences.”
“We’ve started the beginnings of social
change, so we’re starting to see attitudes
improve and public behaviour become better
towards those of us with mental health
problems...now we’ve got a chance to keep
that work going and to build the momentum.”
Recent Time to Change research shows that
75% of people with a mental health problem
have lost friendships, indicating that many
people still feel uncomfortable talking about
something that affects one in four of us. We
know that talking openly with friends is an
important part of many people’s lives, yet
having a conversation about mental health still
seems to be a difficult subject for some of us.
Due to the stigma around mental illness, many
people shy away from supporting someone
they know who might be experiencing one. In
the same survey forty-two per cent of people
admit they don’t feel they know enough about
mental health problems to talk to a friend
Dave Warr is a well know local businessman,
sportsman and vice chair of the Guernsey Charity
Community Foundation. He is a supporter of
Mind and he is passionate supporting those who
struggle with mental health issues.
“Although I had no hesitation in accepting the
invitation from Guernsey Mind to speak at
their ‘Change for the Good’ conference I did
need a period of reflection before putting into
words why I was willing to do so.
When I was young, full of energy, working hard
and in good health I had no understanding of
depression and related conditions and was
very much in the camp of ‘give yourself a
shake and pull yourself together’.
How naïve and ignorant I was. It is only in
later life that I have discovered how prevalent
depression is and how much it can impact
upon an individual’s life and indeed those
close to that person.
My experience of mental health is personal
having experienced bouts of depression and
also watched others close to me struggle with
going through one, and one in five worry
that talking openly about it might make their
friend’s situation worse.
You don’t have to be an expert to start a
conversation about mental health. Being a
supportive friend can include small gestures
like sending a quick text or email, or an
invitation to meet up. It’s time we encouraged
people to talk more openly and for mental
health to stop being a part of life people are
too ashamed or embarrassed to talk about.
What I can say from experience is that
when depression strikes it can become allconsuming
and makes it nigh impossible to
lead a normal life. I have found that having a
small number of family and friends to call on
for support has been a key to overcoming the
condition. Others might be less fortunate in
terms of their support network and also feel
handicapped by the stigma which still persists
in admitting to such a medical condition.
I am pleased that I now have an improved
understanding of the challenges which many
people in our Community face and hope that
as the stigma of admitting to depression
reduces the debate can be widened and
awareness raised so that a more constructive
way of addressing the problems can be found.
Hope and optimism can be foreign words
when depressed and my wish is that I can
play a very small part in achieving a more
positive and optimistic outlook for those that
suffer from it.”
Chris Griffiths is Creative Director of awardwinning
Guernsey design agency Two Degrees
North which he founded with his brother Marc
eleven years ago.
As well as being a keen artist in his spare time
Chris has also always been heavily involved
with local sports, including football, hockey,
cricket and rugby, having played in 2 Siam
Cups for Guernsey RFC in his younger years.
Having hung up his playing boots for some
time now, Chris is currently enjoying his role
as Head Coach of the Guernsey Ladies Rugby
Team, he is also President of both St Jacques
RFC and the Independents Cricket Club.
Chris is in his third season with the Guernsey
Ladies Team who last year enjoyed much
success with a League and Cup double
winning season. Chris previously spent 6
years as Head Coach with the mens team at
St Jacques, winning The Macmillan, Simon
Chandler and Bachmann Trophies as well as
an Inter Insular Trophy along the way.
As well as being a Level 2 qualified Rugby
Coach, Chris is also a qualified Rugby Referee
and has officiated many local games at
various levels over the last four seasons.
Chris strongly believes that sport has a huge
positive effect on a persons mental wellbeing
and has plenty of anecdotes to back this up.
There are many roles in sport, from coaching,
playing and mentoring that he feels allow an
individual to grow and flourish and become
stronger and more self confident. He believes
the five core values of rugby sum up rather
neatky the reasons why; teamwork, respect,
enjoyment, discipline and sportsmanship.
Being part of a sporting ‘family’ that have
a shared goal and who achieve this goal
through hard work and self belief can be
fantastic for improving one’s mental health
outside of the sporting arena too.