#47: CEO Series Part 1 with Beyond Blue CEO Georgie Harman

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 Thanks for listening to another episode of It Ain’t Weak to Speak with Sam Webb. Please rate the podcast and leave a review if you enjoyed it. 


My guest today is Georgie Harman, the CEO of Australia's largest mental health organisation, Beyond Blue. With millions of Australians turning to Beyond Blue for help every year, they are Australia’s most well known mental health organisation and focus on supporting people affected by anxiety, depression and suicide.

In this episode, Georgie shares her perspective on the current mental health system within Australia and why it’s not yet where it needs to be. She talks about the need for a holistic and people focussed approach and the importance of government, sector and community involvement and collaboration.

We talk about the variety of struggles that members of the community face and how our system must accommodate for the complexity of people’s needs. Georgie talks about how Beyond Blue partners with grass roots organisations to ensure they are connecting to as many people as possible and that a partnership doesn’t have to be complicated. 

Georgie discusses the need to ramp up digital support, how Beyond Blue and other organisations are partnering to do this in order to provide a comprehensive and seamless experience for people who need help. We discuss the importance of self care when working 24/7 in the mental health sector and putting on your own oxygen mask first in order to effectively help others.


[1:00]: How Georgie is a die hard Survivor fan and that it reveals a lot about human nature

[2:30]: How life is all about connection and relationships and situations like the bushfires and covid have reminded us of those things

[4:30]: How Georgie loves her job at Beyond Blue and has been working there longer than any other job because she knows she is making a difference. Self stigma is the biggest problem they are facing.

[6:30]: At the end of 2020, Georgie encouraged her team to remember the good they had done throughout the year in helping people through one of the hardest times. 

[8:30]: How Beyond Blue has approximately 200 staff and will be growing up to 250 in addition to their part time counsellors 

[9:45]: 12.9 million Australians turn to Beyond Blue every year

[10:30]: How the current mental health system doesn’t work because it’s focused on where providers are, not where people are and how emergency departments are the worst place for someone struggling

[12:20]: How we need to redesign the system to be about people in a holistic way

[14:00]: How there are numerous causes and treatments for different mental illnesses. Our system needs to accommodate for this, ensure departments talk to each other and learn from emerging science

[16:00]: The government needs to play a pivotal role in the system but the sector also has to lift it’s game, work together with government and community to create policy

[18:20]: How Beyond Blue works to boost confidence and literacy of everyone in australia to play a role in community 

[20:00]: How Georgie makes sure she goes to grass roots events every year and have speakers with lived experience to keep in touch with the community they are reaching out to

[22:00]: How Beyond Blue prioritises forming partnerships with other organisations in the community

[23:40]: How partnership with Beyond Blue is about connecting communities with their services and it doesn't have to be complicated

[26:00]: How it can be very tiring to find help when you are struggling

[27:30]: The strengths within the sector are the dedicated people and the strong digital capability  

[29:00]: Reach Out and Lifeline both have great online platforms and they have used funding to  join forces with Beyond Blue to create a seamless experience

[31:30]: How there is a need to ramp up digital support because it creates so much ease and access for people

[33:00]: How Georgie has learned to prioritise her own self care through experiencing depressing a few years ago and that sleep and exercise are very important and speaking to a professional when she needs to

[35:00]: The importance of putting your own oxygen mask on first and finding people you can talk with to get a different perspective and bring you back to earth if you need it

[38:00]: How to contact Beyond Blue and that feedback is always welcome


Website: https://www.beyondblue.org.au

Phone: 1300 22 4636

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Lifeline: 13 11 14

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