Welcome back to How I Made It, Metro.co.uk’s weekly career journey series.
This week, we talk to Dr. Nick Taylor, a mental health expert and former psychologist who is now building Unmind, a workplace mental health platform he co-founded.
Provisions for mental health often seem scarce, 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 now works with companies like ASOS, Uber and John Lewis to ensure employees are equipped with tools to support their wellbeing and mental health.
Its goal is to “create mentally healthier workplaces,” something we can all aspire to.
The 39-year-old from Hampshire always knew that mental health was an area of interest for him.
Here’s how he did it.
Hi Nick. When and how did you know you wanted to be in the medical and psychological space?
I grew up with three sisters. My younger sister, Jessica, has Down syndrome, which had a huge impact on my growth, fueling my fascination with the human spirit at a very young age.
This passion for psychology only grew stronger later in life after I started volunteering with the Samaritans, in addition to being a support worker for the mental health charity, Mind. , which works with people with mental health issues.
How do you think Jessica influenced your career decisions?
Growing up with Jessica shaped my life in so many ways – more than I can list – and I could spend many hours talking about it.
I believe that thanks to 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 who are less dependent on words and conversations.
I also learned a lot about humor, honesty and how to have fun.
How has volunteering for the Samaritans helped your career path?
My mother was a Samaritan for many years and I have always respected and admired her prioritization of this work, she was the inspiration to me.
I was a Samaritan when I graduated and found the experience rewarding but challenging.
As an organization, it is made up of an army of wonderful volunteers who make themselves available to speak to people in crisis.
The groundwork training they provided was invaluable and helped shape some of my early thoughts on how to engage people therapeutically.
How did you train for the position you hold today and how many years did it take you?
While I originally graduated from the University of Manchester with a degree in classical music, the experience I gained as a Samaritan, as well as a mental support worker, greatly influenced my decision to return to university in 2007 and do my degree in psychology.
After graduating from Cardiff University in 2008, I took time to reflect on the path ahead of me and eventually applied for a PhD in Clinical Psychology at the University of Sheffield, where I spent three years before graduating in 2013.
It’s a thoughtful switch. What happened from there?
I wanted to go straight to the frontline and started working as a clinical psychologist with the NHS in south London for a few years, before taking on a lead role on the community learning disabilities team of Kensington and Chelsea in 2015.
I also served briefly as a board member of Beyond Shame, Beyond Stigma – a charity supporting mental health initiatives for small businesses and individuals.
Four years with the NHS has really opened my eyes to how we can adapt the techniques we use to help our patients and apply them in the field of corporate wellbeing – in particular why and how organizations can benefit caring for their employees.
This sparked the idea of Unmind.
When you created Unmind, how did you make that happen?
Throughout my time in the NHS I was faced with three different scenarios which left me quite frustrated.
First, I have never met any of my patients at the right time in their mental health journey.
Second, it is often quite difficult to access the right resources to take care of mental well-being despite living in a technologically advanced world where information is just at the touch of a screen.
Finally, emphasis should be placed on prevention of mental illness rather than just treatment.
The truth is that no matter how much we invest in traditional mental health service treatment, there will never be enough resources.
That’s where digital comes in by providing a scalable and affordable platform that’s customized to everyone’s unique needs.
An Average Day in Dr. Nick’s Professional Life
7am: Nick starts the day spending time with his family and taking his kids to school
9 a.m.: The work begins and it will go through e-mails.
10 a.m.: Meetings will begin to discuss the evolution of its product.
2:00 p.m.: Nick will participate in virtual meetings with clients, academics, HR managers and our US-based colleagues.
7 p.m.: He will finish spending the evening with his family.
How to relax and let go after a long day?
Spending time with my family in the evenings is always a priority, but I also try to find time for my hobbies which include gardening, music and exercise, often with my colleague and co-founder, Steve Peralta .
What do you like most about your job?
It is undoubtedly the people around me – my colleagues at Unmind, but also the passionate group of mental wellness advocates with whom I work closely.
These also include our customers who are driving mental health transformation within their organizations and the wider industry.
Is there anything you don’t like?
I wish I had more hours in the day!
Do you have an interesting professional background?
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Do you have a story to share?
Contact us by emailing MetroLifestyleTeam@Metro.co.uk.
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