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People Management And Well-Being In The Workplace – Exclusive Interview With Richie Perera

Richie is the founder of Mental Health and Life, an organisation that delivers accredited online, self-paced, and classroom based mental health first aid courses, HR consultancy, Race Equity and Suicide Intervention training to individuals, organisations and businesses worldwide.


Richie won the highly acclaimed Investors in People Manager of the Year Award, one of the highest accolades in HR and People management in the UK. The award recognised Richie as a global leader in HR and people management. Richie is the author of the groundbreaking book, Managing People in the New Normal – Principles Based on Mental Health and Wellbeing


Richie regularly writes articles on mental health and people management and works as an expert industry consultant for Guidepoint Global. Richie is the deputy chair on the Board of Trustees at Unity Theatre in Liverpool and is a speaker on people management and mental health in the workplace. Richie is a passionate advocate on the power of human connection in the workplace and challenging the status quo of organisational behavior to leverage the benefits that come with a happy and healthy workforce.

Richie Perera, Founder ‒ Mental Health and Life


How do you help your clients?


At Mental Health and Life, we help organisations to understand and leverage what is the most undervalued and overlooked, yet the most lucrative facet of business, the human element. We deliver mental health first aid training for organisations to become literate on mental health, people management and well-being in the workplace.


Literacy on mental health and well-being in the workforce is essential for every organisation post-pandemic. To have a truly flourishing organisation, an organisation requires happy, healthy, flourishing people. Through training and consultancy using our award-winning Departmental Localisation strategy, we guide organisations on how to talk to, action and personalise mental health and wellbeing, department by department in order to flourish in the new normal.


What is Mental Health First Aid and what are the benefits?


Mental health first aid courses are training programs that train the everyday person to help someone developing or experiencing poor mental health. It trains a person on how to have a supportive conversation and how to signpost to professional help. Most importantly, it trains people on self-care in order to look after their own mental health and well-being.


Mental health for many, is the only part of our health that people assume they are qualified to deal with without any formal education or professional help. Historically, it has also been overlooked in the workplace. The consequences of that are, 57% of days taken off in the UK are due to mental health issues costing employers £54 billion every year. Lost productivity due to mental health costs the global economy US$ 1 trillion each year, projected to rise to $6 trillion by 2030.


Mental health first aid training helps to address this issue via self-application and self-empowerment on mental health. This mental health autonomy and literacy in employees takes away the huge burden on an organisation in trying to figure out what is best for their employees when it comes to wellbeing and how they are managed.


What is Departmental Localisation?


Departmental localisation (DL) is a simple five-step strategy that organisations can use to get to know the needs and wants of their employees on an individual, department by department basis. Departmental localisation centres on having meaningful and personal conversations with employees and acting on those conversations


The strategy is based on the theory that there are no generic or off-the-shelf solutions to wellbeing in the workplace. DL determines that to understand an organisation and the needs and wants of its workforce, management practices must be personalised, localised, unique, and specific to each department. Think of each department in an organisation, as its own organisation. That is Departmental Localisation.


Departmental Localisation can be initialised with two simple questions put forward to staff.

  1. Write down 3 things your employer can do to help you with your well-being and the way you are managed at work (Keep it personal to you, your job role, and your day-to-day)

  2. Write down 3 things you can do at work that can improve the well-being of others around you (This can be as personal as speaking with a person that has not been themselves lately, all the way to changes in company policy regarding mental health and well-being and the way you are managed)

These two simple questions will open up a treasure trove of invaluable, unique, and department/person-specific data for organisations to work on and action.


What is your work inspired by?


In 2019 I went to see my doctor; I was struggling to sleep after the liquidation of my successful company I had built and ran for over a decade. I was formerly the CEO of the London Makeup School and the London Hair Academy. I was eventually diagnosed with mixed depression and anxiety disorder; it came as a shock!


I always thought that mental health issues happen to weak people, I was a strong person, so I would never need to worry about it. I was unaware that being a person of colour makes me three times more likely to develop a mental health issue in the UK. Due to cultural stigma, mental health was never a topic growing up, if it was, it was based on shame and ridicule. This played a big role in my ignorance. My illness took me from a high-flying, highly paid CEO to a person who struggled to put an email together, it also nearly took my life. My recovery completely changed my outlook on life.


Since my recovery, I launched mental health and life, I have trained hundreds of people in mental health first aid, I am getting married, I became a grandfather and a published author, all in the space of three short years. The point I am trying to make is that nobody needs to die from a mental health issue, we don’t know what’s around the corner. There are so many reasons to live, but not just to live which too many of us do, but to live happy healthy and well. There’s a huge difference between the two.


These narratives and stories of recovery must become commonplace within our homes and communities especially for people of colour. I want my story of success, failure, mental ill health and recovery, to be a reference point for generations to come. Evidence that no matter where you are from or who you are, we can discuss mental health, well-being and its link to our happiness.


This is what inspires me and my work!


What would you like to achieve for yourself and your business in the future?


Mental health first aid training is on its way becoming law for employers in the UK, the same as First Aid at Work. This may happen as early as this year in 2023. When it does become law, it will help to revolutionise mental health in the workplace. It will help to address the painful human and financial costs we are currently witnessing both in personal and professional environments.


I plan for Mental Health and Life to become an industry leader in the delivery of mental health first aid training and consultancy. As a professional, I have a unique skill set I can pass on as CEO, as a consultant, and as a mental health first aid instructor that gives my organisation an edge and immense added value in the sector. I intend to wield it for the betterment of the working world.


I want my work to establish a legacy on better people management creating a seismic shift in organisational behaviour. I aim to do this passing on my professional knowledge and ideologies to incumbent and incoming business leaders, using my organisation as the tool to create a new normal that is mutually beneficial for both employer and employee. Ultimately creating better spaces for humans, true literacy on mental health and most importantly, happiness in this world.


Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Youtube, or visit my website for more info!



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