Philosophy of The Big Society

David Cameron gets to be God!

Friday, 17 October 2008

Jonathan Naess - Hard at it on the frontline

Former financier helps stressed City workers (BLESS HIS HOLY SOUL)

Oct 5, 2008

LONDON (AFP) — Having himself suffered a total breakdown at the office, former corporate finance specialist Jonathan Naess is well-qualified to run a charity helping stressed-out workers in London's City district.

And he is not short of clients -- experts report an increase in visits to mental health professionals in the capital's financial quarter as the credit crunch, which has led to thousands of job cuts in finance, piles the pressure on the industry's already cut-throat work culture.

"Work is one of the places where we understand our abilities, our talents, who we are," said Naess, now the director of Stand to Reason, a charity specialising in work-related mental health.

"Major reorganisations pending within organisations, the lack of control that people have over their working life and... The concerns they may have around how they may be impacted, we know are a major cause of workplace stress."

Naess, 40, is no stranger to stress -- he broke down in his early twenties, shortly after graduating from Oxford University, and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, which can be triggered by stress.

Later, while a partner at corporate finance firm Nabarro Wells, he was admitted into a psychiatric hospital after suffering a major breakdown at work, following several days of little or no sleep in a high-stress environment.

"I was at work, and had been going to work really right up until the point where I was very sick... I had very little knowledge of the symptoms and didn't pick up on the very clear warning signs," he told AFP.

He took a sabbatical in March 2007 to set up his charity, and Stand to Reason now counts among its backers Dennis Stevenson, the chairman of HBOS, the mortgage lender recently acquired by Lloyds TSB bank.

Naess says that increasing numbers of people are being referred to mental health professionals for counselling, a trend that Michael Sinclair, a consultant psychologist, has also seen.

"Since the onset of the credit crunch, there's been a growing sense of stress and anxiety in relation to potential redundancies," Sinclair, who estimates between 90 and 95 percent of his clients are City workers, told AFP.

The Samaritans support service said last month they had seen more than a 25 percent increase in telephone calls in August and September in their central London branch, from 3,500 to 4,500, compared to the same time last year.

In Sinclair's view, the work environment in London's finance industry has a detrimental effect on mental health, with many employees fearful of admitting to feeling stressed, thereby compounding the problem.

"It's a very driven and very goal-orientated business environment, and weakness is just not acceptable," he said.

"There's something particular in this industry in relation to the stigma around mental health and how that affects mental health in an unhelpful way."

He added: "It goes towards exacerbating a lot of mental health problems in the City, the reluctance to talk about it."

Dealing with it will not be easy -- Naess recommends a steady diet of training for managers and backing for flexible working hours so that employees will feel more comfortable leaving work for treatment, among other things.

He has big plans for his charity, outlining his hope that it will eventually have a similar impact on workplace culture to Stonewall, which has successfully fought for more gay-friendly office environments in Britain.

On a personal level, Naess insists his current project will not last forever and that he will eventually return to the world of international finance.

"What helped me get better both times was being at work," he said.

Claimer: For what I am about to write, I make no apology:

This guy really does think he is some kind of messiah!!! I think he is a shitbag!


  1. You won't find me arguing this time!

  2. Is it a charity or is it a business -

    "We are developing quite a comprehensive suite of products to take into the workplace ..."

    Posted by Jonathan Naess, Stand to Reason | February 8, 2008 8:56 AM

    Stand to Reason is run by and for people who have experienced mental distress themeselves. We are developing quite a comprehensive suite of products to take into the workplace that are designed to change workplace cultures around mental health, and our members and trainers are people who have often come from quite senior positions in a wide range of organisations, which enables us to speak to employers on a peer-to-peer basis and give practical tips and advice on what does and does not work.
    Essentially the message is very simple: good professional managers need to bring the same skills to managing mental health as any other issue at work. It's not rocket science and you don't have to be a psychiatrist to handle it.
    Small steps can make things a lot better, simply creating the expectation that an employee will retun to work can go a long way to break down fears and misunderstandings on both sides. More people need to understand that mental illness is on a continuum and part of normal, ordinary life - and that when people experience mental distress they usually make a "full" recovery and that work is often key to getting better.
    Employers like BT have seen that there is a real hit to the bottom line if you get it wrong: sickness absence, staff tunover and "presenteeism" of people afraid to disclose a mental health problem but who keep on coming in when they are not well. A recent study estimates that the cost to UK businesses is £26 billion per annum, equivalent to over £1000 per employee per year.

    Posted on February 8, 2008 08:56

  3. I have been sent more stuff through on Mr Naess and his charity.

    Makes for secular reading!

    Am not going to put it up on here. Mostly because it isn't telling me anything I wouldn't already have sussed and the guy has the media on his side already.

    I guess it Stands To Reason that he gets all the media attention because he comes from what was a rather affluent and respected (in certain circles) sector. Whereas, most service users are seen as crawling around on the bottom of the barrel.

    A shining example to us all!!!!!


    Honey, he doesn't want your money. He wants your boss on he can invite them to power breakfasts.

  4. P.S. Deedee...I read your posting about Stonewall giving an anti gay journalist an award.

    Says it all, doesn't it?

  5. 27% of Westminster’s MPs, peers and staff have personal experience of mental health problems.

    94% of all those at Westminster have experience of family or friends with mental ill-health [ ]

    Each sector seems to deal with such ill-health in parallel with the professional knowledge and customary tools at their disposal. Mr Naess is a businessman - he's creating a business.

    Doctors have their own secret doctor-doctor helpline and confidential counselling.

    Parliamentarians deny and ignore the problem whilst patting themselves on the back for shovelling shedloads of cash - apparently - into the NHS. And, I suggest, this is precisely why the country is beset and blighted by mental ill-health problems which cost £billions. It's why there is still such stigma and still such incredibly mediaeval treatment for and of ordinary folks.

  6. Hi Deb

    The stigma, I have to say, I have come across has come from the Government...via it's bodies and including the NHS.

    I fact can't remember one time..when I have been abused because of my mental illness by a member of the public (at large).

    'The Stigma Gravy Train' has been set up to make money for the campaigners who are mostly in it for the advertising and dosh. You just have to go to the MH charity websites to see how they use the term.

    I know one person who gets stigmatized by the public but I think that is down to their behaviour. As in they suffer severe paranoia and often imagine persecution situations which don't exist but they crank up and then they get stigmatized. I don't belittle their illness, nor do I say that society doesn't have levels of prejudice. I just have yet to see it on the levels organisations are claiming it exists on.

    What I do come across is ignorance. When I tell people I have manic depression they will say "What is that?" or "Really, so how does that affect you?". I have never had anyone say "So you are a nutter then?". I say that myself! ha! ha!

  7. Jonathan Naess is a real opportunist. At the time he lanched his charity service users said to him ' hey why are you simply focussing on what you see as discrimination in the workplace out there when your own working environment is so toxic and lawyers, bankers and brokers leave the city in droves '. At the time a top banker had just been sectioned for almost beating his child to death but Naess declined to see any role for himself addressing the city culture at that time but now hes practically a de-stress guru?

    Come on Jonathan there are people who dont enjoy the priviledges in life you do, if you want to make a difference go work in a hospice or something out of the limelight.

  8. I am angry at the sneering, dismissive comments about Jonathan. He has personally supported me through horrendous problems at work, caused by - yes - STIGMA. If this is a stigma gravy train, then I'm all for it. If you don't like Stand to Reason and Jonathan, bloody start something of your own instead of sniping from the sidelines. And Jonathan's social class has bugger all to do with anything, except inverted snobbery and general crabby, negative envy. Get over yourselves!

    Jill G

  9. Well, Jill G, aren't you the rare, lucky one?

    Perhaps the very wonderful Jonathan N would like to come and help me...for free. Because the Mental Health 'Support' Industry, of which Mr Naess is now a fully paid-up member, has actually created MORE problems in my life than any member of the public.

    Yeah, if he really wants to make a difference, get him to fight alongside US against the 'MHSI' and the stigma that they and their paymasters, the government, actually generate.

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