When I ‘opened up’ about my 30 year battle with OCD in August 2016, I had ambitions of playing a small part in raising awareness of mental health challenges in the workplace.

The response however was unbelievable. Friends, connections and people I didn’t know were amazing and contacted me with messages of support and encouragement. Also, I was immediately invited to speak at a number of major events and seminar’s, including; Roffey Park Institute’s 70th anniversary, a DRIVE event at The House of Lords and the Architectural HR Network in London.

I was completely blown away by the appetite of individuals and businesses for wanting to discuss mental health, and was immediately motivated and encouraged to aim higher with my aspirations. I truly felt I had found my calling and set about reaching, and hopefully supporting, more people with my story and the experiences of others.

I set up the LinkedIn Mental Health in Business Group and have just launched the Mental Health in Business Website, both with the aim to galvanise a global community of people and businesses with a common cause; breaking down the stigma associated with mental difference!

On top of my day job, I now present, speak, blog and share at every opportunity, to drive a very powerful message; the message that mental difference brings a level of capability that can be harnessed to achieve great and better things!

My presentation highlights what I have achieved in business as a consequence of, not just despite of, suffering from mental illness since the age of 12 and finally getting the better of it in my early 30’s. I firmly believe that I and others with mental health experience, approach things from a different mental and cognitive direction, and have acquired enhanced capabilities due to how we have trained, and effectively worked out, our brains through coping strategies, CBT and managing our conditions.

As an example I am a proven complex problem solver, probably because my OCD forced me to solve some of the most catastrophic potential situations my brain had me believe were a reality! I am orderly for obvious reasons and I like to think I am a nice guy; given I focus on enjoying life, respecting people and taking things as they come, something my relaxation and focus on immersing myself in the good aspects of life has given me; a consequence of my distraction therapy techniques.

In 2016 there were tremendous examples of mental health being discussed and I feel 2017 gives us an exciting opportunity to move the conversation on to demonstrating how mental difference delivers great and wonderful outcomes. Focusing on the positives rather than the negatives, showcasing the capabilities of those with mental difference and highlighting the enhanced outcomes that are achievable by bringing together people with a myriad of differences in business scenarios!

Many friends have asked me what my New Year’s Resolution is and it’s most definitely doing more to raise awareness of the capability that mental difference brings.

So I’m going to continue consulting for amazing businesses like AXA, Whitbread/Premier Inn and Inmarsat on my career passion of global resourcing strategy and HR technology transformation, but I’m also going to increase my efforts to raise awareness and consult on how to approach and harness mental difference in business.

Please do join the Mental Health in Business Group and share your mental health experiences at every opportunity. ‘Opening Up’ truly is a wonderful and positive experience and together we can break down the stigma associated with mental difference and leverage the amazing capability mental difference brings.

#mymentaldifferencecapability is a highly trained complex solutions brain. What’s yours?

Happy New Year everyone, let’s make 2017 the year of Mental Difference Capability.

All the best.

Colin.