Speech: How to Have a Mentally Healthy Conversation

The overwhelming evidence is that mental health conversations don’t work in our schools, universities and workplaces.  People either don’t talk about their mental health or, when they do, it commonly results in stigma or a lack of support. This doesn’t just result in a bad outcome for the individual. It also results in poor organisational outcomes.  More working days are lost to mental health than anything else.  Organisations lose, on average, around £1,400 per employee due to lost productivity, absence, grievance, complaints and litigation. More students are dropping out of university in their first year due to mental health than ever before.  There are more student suicides than ever before.

Through his speech, Jonathan invites the audience to play the role of his boss, teacher, friend, colleague or university tutor.  And in that role your objective is to help him get the support he needs for his condition.

First, you will hear Jonathan’s own emotionally powerful story of his mental health challenges after the death of his son Theo – an experience which left him with post traumatic stress disorder and, eventually, depression.  Then you will explore the impact of this on him and his mental health.


And in doing this you will discover why it is that mental health conversations result in poor outcomes.

In his search for a solution, Jonathan will talk about the fictional experience of Parry, from the film The Fisher King; and he will draw some valuable lessons from this piece of fiction about how we could better handle mental health conversations.

jack, parry and the red knight

Learning lessons from both his real experience and the fictional experience of the film, Jonathan offers a new model in which to have a mental wellness conversation which results in positive outcomes. And it is a model that anyone in the audience can successfully use.

“Using this new framework, people who need support, receive support.  And this is important, because people with mental health challenges don’t need support because we are weak, we need support so that we can perform and be effective.  This is win-win; because those who give support, receive productivity, loyalty, less complaints, less grievance and less absence and improved staff or student satisfaction.”

Jonathan Phelan

give them a good listening to

Give Jonathan a good listening to, and you will be able to build a culture of positive mental health conversations in your organisation.


“A truly inspirational speaker whose natural energy makes you feel like change is possible but also explained in an incredibly moving, memorable and more importantly tangible way the importance and benefit of good listening to supporting others. I hope it is a lesson that will remain with me for life and have never been so glad to give up my time to listen.”

Clare – attended speech

“Jonathan’s approach was fascinating – equally emotional, encouraging and enlightening. His presentation today was easily the most most emotional hour I’ve ever spent at work, but one of the most encouraging, inspiring and useful.”

Martin McQueen – Irwin Mitchell 

“Jonathan spoke at a mental health and wellbeing event we organised for World Mental Health Day. Jonathan’s materials and style were fresh and engaging. His openness about his own story, and its impact on his mental health in the form of PTSD, really brought to life the importance of reducing mental health stigma in the workplace. His framework for holding mentally healthy conversations – drawing on his own and others’ experience – was clear, helpful and persuasive.”

Hannah Priest, Chair of Ofcom’s Disability & Wellbeing Group  – Hosted Speech

Speech Flyer

Speech Flyer (contact me for the flyer by email or printed):