Often, people only reach out for help with their mental health when they have a crisis. By then, problems can be complex and take time to resolve. How much better if we could spot the early warning signs and get the help we need sooner? How much suffering, cost and time might we save? Jacobs’ One Million Lives campaign seeks to inspire over one million people to check their mental health regularly and prevent problems from reaching breaking point. Paul Hendry, Jacobs’ Global Vice President – Health, Safety and Environment, told us more.

What is One Million Lives (OML)
OML is an ambitious project developed by Jacobs and clinically endorsed by mental health professionals, whereby individuals can complete a short mental health check-in questionnaire which helps them understand how they are coping with life and provides them with proactive strategies for personal mental health development. The check-in tool is freely available to all online – not just Jacobs employees.

Our ambition is to encourage people to use the tool and share it with their own networks, and in doing so create a ripple effect that reaches over a million people. By inviting people to routinely check in to see how they are doing, and encourage their own networks to do the same, we hope that people will become more aware of their state of mental health. OML does not intend to diagnose, cure or prevent any mental health condition – it simply seeks to alert people to potential warning signs and encourage them to start conversations and look for support earlier.

The check-in tool
One Million Lives can give us wider visibility of our mental health, shining a light on what we, as individuals, need to focus on to maintain or improve our mental health. The check-in tool is designed to measure three key factors:

  • Psychological distress The Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K10) is one of the most commonly used assessments by GPs and health professionals. It measures non-specific psychological distress on the anxiety-depression spectrum, based on questions about people’s levels of nervousness, agitation, psychological fatigue and depression.
  • Early warning signs or risk factors such as sleep, alcohol use etc.
  • Protective or proactive factors such as social media use, perfectionism etc.

Why was it set up?
Previously, we had worked with Peta Slocombe, an Australian psychologist who has worked in the mental health field for 25 years. Peta created Australia’s largest ‘check-in’, which we participated in. Feedback showed how valuable users found the tool, and from this we explored how we could take the check-in concept global, creating a movement and campaign that helps people better understand their current state of mind and access support to create proactive strategies.

We recognised how much our Mental Health Matters program had been embraced by Jacobs employees and the significant impact it has had on our culture. We are slowly but surely eliminating the stigma within Jacobs. We wanted others to be able to access the tool and resources externally, so we could join hands with our family, friends, clients and communities and really tackle this.

This is not only about an app though, this is about better understanding, accessing valuable resources and eliminating the stigma through active and positive conversations. This is about putting mental health in our hands.

What were the barriers or challenges to implementation?
We carefully managed the data protection and anonymity requirements with our cyber security and legal teams. Other challenges were around convincing external stakeholders that this was the right thing to do and that if organisations and sectors joined hands together on this topic, then so much more can be achieved.

So many organisations are doing great things regarding proactive mental health strategies, so we hope that OML can be a worthwhile addition to their toolkits and strategies.

Is OML working?
OML has been well received to date, with nearly 6,000 check-ins made since its launch, and positive feedback from users. We are building great support from organisations such as Safer Highways, HSE Global Series, the Lighthouse Club and others, and will keep focused on this momentum to share the tool. We are also currently assessing high-level data from the aggregated, anonymous check-ins to see what we can learn and share.

How can you get involved?
The tool is freely available at the OML website, which also provides free campaign resources, such as social media content, posters, images and campaign guidance.

Contact OML@jacobs.com to explore other ways to get involved.