Welcome back to How I Made It, Metro.co.uk’s weekly career journey series.
This week we’re talking with Dr Nick Taylor, a mental health expert and former psychologist who now is building Unmind, a workplace mental health platform of which he is a co-founder.
Mental health provisions often feel few and far between, especially with the insufficient funding the NHS gets in this area.
Nick knows this all too well, having started his career in the NHS.
He’s now working with companies such as ASOS, Uber and John Lewis to make sure employees are equipped with tools to help their wellbeing and mental health.
His goal is to ‘create more mentally healthy workplaces’, which is something we can all aspire to.
The 39-year-old from Hampshire has always known mental health was an area of interest for him.
Here’s how he made it happen.
Hey Nick. When and how did you know you wanted to be in the medical and psychological space?
I grew up with three sisters. My middle sister, Jessica, has Down’s syndrome, which had an enormous impact on me growing up, fueling my fascination with the human mind at a very young age.
This passion for psychology only grew stronger later in life after I took up volunteering with the Samaritans, on top of being a support worker for the mental health charity, Mind, working with people experiencing mental ill-health.
How do you think Jessica impacted your career decisions?
Growing up with Jessica shaped my life in so many ways – more than I could list – and I could spend many hours speaking about it.
I believe that as a result of Jessica I learned early on the value of difference, how to accept people for who they are, how to engage and build deep and meaningful relationships with people with less reliance on words and conversations.
I also learnt a huge amount about humour, honesty and how to have fun.
How did volunteering for the Samaritans help your career journey?
My mum was a Samaritan for many years and I always respected and admired her prioritisation of this work, it was she who inspired me.
I was a Samaritan at the end of my studies and I found the experience rewarding but challenging.
As an organisation it is made up of an army of amazing volunteers who make themselves available to speak with people in crisis.
The foundational training they provided was valuable and helped to shape some of my early thinking around how to engage people therapeutically.
How did you train for the position you have today and how many years did it take?
While I initially graduated from The University of Manchester with a degree in classical music, the experience I garnered as a Samaritan, as well as a Mind support worker, greatly influenced my decision to go back to university in 2007 and do my diploma in psychology.
After graduating from Cardiff University in 2008, I took some time to think about the path which lay ahead, and eventually applied for a PhD in Clinical Psychology at the University of Sheffield, where I spent three years before graduating in 2013.
That’s a considered switch. What happened from there?
I wanted to go straight onto the frontlines and began working as a clinical psychologist with the NHS in South London for a couple of years, before taking on a lead role with the Kensington & Chelsea Community Learning Disability Team in 2015.
I was also briefly a member of the Board of Trustees for Beyond Shame, Beyond Stigma – a charity supporting mental health-related initiatives of small businesses and individuals.
Four years with the NHS really opened my eyes to how we could adapt the techniques we used to help our patients, and apply them in the field of corporate wellness – specifically why and how organisations can benefit by taking care of their employees.
This sparked the idea for Unmind.
When you came up with Unmind, how did you make that happen?
Throughout my time in the NHS, I faced three different scenarios that left me quite frustrated.
Firstly, I never met any of my patients at the right time on their mental health journey.
Secondly, it’s often quite difficult to access the right resources to care for mental wellbeing despite living in a technologically advanced world where information is just at the touch of a screen.
Lastly, the focus should be on prevention of mental ill-health rather than just treatment.
The truth is no matter how much we invest in traditional treatment of mental health services, there’s never going to be enough resources.
That is where digital comes to play providing a scalable and affordable platform that is personalised to everyone’s unique needs.
An average day in the working life of Dr Nick
7am: Nick starts the day by spending time with his family and getting his children off to school
9am: Work begins and he’ll go through emails.
10am: Meetings will begin to discuss the evolution of his product.
2pm: Nick will be in virtual meetings with clients, academics, chief HR officers, and our us-based colleagues.
7pm: He’ll finish up to spent the evening with his family.
How do you unwind and let go after a long day?
Spending time with my family in the evening is always a priority, but I also try to make time for my hobbies that include gardening, playing music and exercising, often with my colleague and co-founder, Steve Peralta.
What do you love most about your job?
It’s undoubtedly the people I am surrounded by – my colleagues at Unmind, but also the passionate group of mental wellbeing advocates I work closely with.
These also include our clients who are driving the transformation of mental health within their organisations and the wider industry.
Is there anything you dislike?
I would love to have more hours in the day!
Do you have an interesting career journey?
Email [email protected] to share your story.
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