Brain Health in a Brain Economy: Breaking Through
By Bill Wilkerson
October 5, 2020
"Unless we prepare for tech revolution, AI could trigger superstorm of chronic workforce stress."
Read the article >
As appears in The Globe and Mail, Saturday, July 18, 2020
Bill Wilkerson, LL. D. (Hon), Executive Chairman, Mental Health International, reflects on his 20-year partnership with the Late Michael Wilson in workplace mental health and, with acclaimed University of Toronto physician-scientist Roger McIntyre, projects Mr. Wilson’s legacy into the future.
A great Canadian, Michael Wilson’s smile lit up every horizon he crossed. He was a man of his nation whose memory and legacy now belong to all Canadians.
Michael was the chairman of the Global Business and Economic Roundtable on Mental Health, succeeding Co-Founder, Tim Price, Chairman of Brookfield Funds. Tim is a powerful mental health advocate and a great Canadian in his own right.
Through these corporate pioneers:
In years past, there were obvious mental health and workplace issues for business to target — issues affecting business costs, productivity, innovation and lost work time.
But these are different times — the pandemic, job loss, climate change, pursuit of justice in the streets. In this context, the mental health goals of business must serve broader societal purposes.
For this reason: the environments in which we live and work are part of the “gene + environment” dynamic causing mental disorders across whole lifetimes from one generation to the next.
Michael Wilson pointed to the “flesh and blood of capitalism” as the property through which business can help reduce these environmental risks.
From this vantage point, business leaders can help achieve a series of Great Societal Goals leading toward the prevention of human misery and economic cost associated with mental illness.
Michael envisioned “an international, workplace-centred, business + science alliance to reverse the tides of brain-based mental disorders and to press for new science to be translated more quickly into innovative clinical care to meet the unmet needs of a half billion people.”
A formula was developed ‘brain health + brain skills = brain capital’ to unify business and science, advancing Michael’s vision.
Flying on the wing of closer synergy between business and science are these clinically-significant priorities for the next three to five years brought into view by Dr. Roger McIntyre:
Priority: strengthen human resilience: our capacity to deal with life.
Priority: discover treatments that alleviate depression symptoms in a day.
Priority: develop treatments specifically aimed at preventing suicide.
Priority: make mental health care accessible for all.
Priority: advance ‘precision medicine’ to identify who will respond to treatment, and who will not.
Priority: expand technology for early detection, improved treatment and medical home care.
These clinical priorities and the societal goals for business will enhance the asset value of human capital in the workplace and in the marketplace — that is, the productivity of employees and the purchasing power of consumers.
An acutely well-timed revolution. Today, so-called ‘intangible’ assets — people — constitute 80% of the reported asset value of corporations. Not technology. Not things. Human beings.
The priorities and societal goals set out here, therefore, will sustain these vital human assets and, in doing so, represent an historic opportunity for business.
The Unheralded Business Crisis In Canada, Depression at Work
12 Steps To A Business Plan To Defeat Depression
July 20, 2000 (www.mentalhealthroundtable.ca)
Original First-Ever Business Plan to Defeat Depression, Launched in Toronto and Geneva in Year 2000:
June 9, 2020
By Bill Wilkerson, LL. D. (Hon)
Executive Chairman, Mental Health International
‘National Accessibility Awareness Week’
Nova Scotia Reachability Association,
June 5, 2020
April 15, 2020
THE COVID-19 LEGACY: PREPARING FOR GENERATION ONE
” Yours is the first generation that will prevent suicide, stop the spread of the disabling effects of mental disorders and support each other’s mental health and wellbeing openly and naturally, setting aside discrimination and denial of our shared vulnerability. Yours is the first generation that will explicitly imply human love in caring for distressed and disordered minds.”
Extracted from the 2015 McMaster University Convocation Speech by Bill Wilkerson to a graduating class that lost four of its own to suicide in that same academic year. Their parents were in the audience for his remarks. Bill addressed them directly and based on these remarks, the term ‘Generation One’ is herewith introduced.
We call the children, adolescents and young adults of the 21st Century Generation One -
Generation One is graduating into uncertain economic prospects while embracing many social causes in great numbers—equality, climate, same-sex marriage, female empowerment, gender identity and mental health.
Generation One is the first to move into workplaces facing vast change portended by artificial intelligence and Generation One is described by the Economist Magazine as the ‘best educated, best behaved, most stressed and depressed generation than those who came before it.’
After 20 years of awareness-raising, Generation One is growing up at a time when mental health sensitivities, for them, are a given, talked about openly. Generation One prioritizes emotions and their ‘personal brand,’
On this basis, it will be important for business and economic policymakers to understand what an ‘emotion priority’ means and how the promotion and protection of mental health in an economy that put a premium on cerebral skillsets, noting that Generation One will expect:
February 21, 2020
Bill Wilkerson launches unique Cobourg Rotary Club series on mental health called Four Fridays in February. His speech provides broad and, yet, detailed context for discussion and understanding of questions about what mental health is, what mental illness is, what mental illness is not, are those with mental illness prone to violence, are words like “crazy and insane” still used and if so, why?
Notes for Remarks by Bill Wilkerson, LL. D. (Hon),
Executive Chairman, Mental Health International
Launching The Rotary Club of Cobourg Series
‘FOUR FRIDAYS IN FEBRUARY’
A Conversation on Mental Health
February 7, 2020
December 31, 2019
BILL WILKERSON AND MENTAL HEALTH IN THE INTERNATIONAL WORKPLACE
These are cities in North America, Europe, South America, Asia and the Middle East where Bill has taken his workplace mental health message through speeches and business roundtables between 1999-2019.
Canada (many cities multiple times)
Thunder Bay, ON
Niagara Falls, ON
St. Catharines, ON
Quebec City, QC
St. John, NB
St. John ‘s Newfoundland
Los Angeles, California,
San Francisco, California (x3)
San Diego, California
Seattle, Washington (x2)
Las Vegas, Nevada,
San Antonio, Texas
St. Louis, Missouri
New Orleans, Louisiana
Washington, D.C. (x4)
New York, N.Y. (x2)
Providence, Rhode Island
Boston, Mass., (x3)
Atlanta, Georgia (x2)
Geneva, Switzerland (x2)
Rome, Italy (x2)
Brussels, Belgium ( x2)
London, England (x3)
Copenhagen, Denmark (x3)
Athens, Greece (x2)
United Arab Emirates
September 25, 2019
The spread of artificial intelligence (AI) into science, society, and the workplace is a revolutionary change that will have profound impacts on not only jobs but also the well-being of workers. Bill Wilkerson, Executive Chairman of Mental Health International, authored a recently published report entitled One Human One Not: Mental Health in the Era of Artificial Intelligence. In this episode Bill shares his views and findings from the report and recommends that AI be managed carefully to prevent it from becoming a major intruder into the mental health and well-being of workers and families. Listen Now www.ccohs.ca
Statement by Bill Wilkerson, LL.D. (Hon)
Executive Chairman, Mental Health International
Industry Professor, International Mental Health, McMaster University
The world is crossing an historic bridge between human and artificial intelligence, bringing together two minds, one human, one not. Can we keep them both healthy? This is unclear.
But this much is clear. The revolution in artificial intelligence is a vivid and present danger to the livelihood and health of hundreds of millions of working people and their families worldwide, threatening to displace and replace human beings in whole jobs and specific tasks on an unprecedented scale.
Even the most informed proponents of AI worry about this. According to Dr. Alan Bernstein, CEO, Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR), “AI will force us to challenge our cherished views of what it means to be human.”
The World Economic Forum forecasts that individuals in some 375 million jobs will be rotated out of those jobs. According to consulting giant McKinsey, 60-90% of all jobs now in place will be affected by artificial intelligence.
Unless employers and governments prepare for this revolution by retraining workers, creating replacement jobs that demand distinctly human traits, and forging new education and career models, social unrest and public alienation will intensify in a world already fractured by income inequality.
Dr. Bernstein, who leads the Pan-Canadian Strategy on AI, sees “AI as such a powerful platform for analyzing data in new ways that its applications will extend into every aspect of our lives.”
If AI feeds human mental unrest, disquiet and disorder, then it will damage society and if it is cloaked in confusion and lack of transparency, then it will de-humanize the environments in which people live and work.
If the sole driving purpose of AI is to displace employees to cut costs, then it will not only cheapen the cost of producing goods and services, it will cheapen our way life.
Generating invasive, job uncertainty, the deep learning of machines could be a super-power of deep stress for human beings if its infusion is careless and unmanaged. Deep stress is at the root of frustration, fear, anger and rumination which predicts depression
Deep, chronic stress can move us toward depression and just as cancer is a malignant growth, depression – in the words of author Lewis Wolpen - is malignant darkness.
It is also the trigger of 90% of suicides, now the leading cause of violent death. Human beings are killing ourselves faster than we are killing other people. Guns kill more Americans through suicide than homicide.
In late 2018, according to the Economist, suicides in the United States skyrocketed by 18% while globally, suicide declined by nearly 29%, saving nearly three million lives.
Across their lifetime, 50% of populations are symptomatic of mental illness and, in any given year, 20% of the population is afflicted. And these human beings are the faces of the troubled, turbulent times in which the effects of artificial intelligence will be felt.
On a promising note, just as AI may increase the stress-born burden of mental illness, AI apps are being developed to help us better manage depression and anxiety disorders – and even to prevent suicidal risk.
Artificial intelligence is being developed to diagnose and treat schizophrenia more effectively, model psychiatric illness to test new methods of treatment, improve the diagnosis of schizophrenia and improve understanding of autism.
To improve internal decision-making, the Government of Canada has invested heavily in AI systems for internal use, introducing a ‘Directive on Automated Decision-Making’ and an “algorithmic assessment” to spell out ethical responsibilities for the use of AI,
The inevitable ‘but’ surfaces, though, when we consider time frames. The potentially oppressive nature of artificial intelligence as a source of job loss is imminent while counter measures usually take time.
Therefore, my report on mental health in the era of artificial intelligence calls for the “human capitalization” of the AI workplace and digital economy to help balance the billion-dollar investments in machines with billion-dollar investments in people to ensure the supremacy of human beings in the AI workplace.
Human capitalization of the AI workplace should start now with the introduction of workplace protocols or standards - mandated by law, if necessary – to establish the values that will govern entry of AI into the workplace, assess the threats to those values and take steps necessary to neutralize those threats.
On reflection, the ‘human capitalization of AI workplace’ might be stated as the ‘humanization of artificial intelligence in the workplace, this, to eliminate the risks of a troubling ambiguity between the role of people and machines.
In fact, it is clear that the AI revolution is not just a technology event, it is a human event. Surely, it can be leveraged into a positive and transformative, ‘new job’ and ‘new career’ experience for the people who otherwise are written off as short-term pain.
Key to this will be a major transition – from an economy where employees are generally seen as a cost to cut rather than an investment to make.
The AI era will produce technology that will be deployed to valuate people as financial assets, monetizing the human factor in productive capacity, innovation and competitiveness.
In this context, expenditures by employers on employee retraining, reskilling incumbent workers and supporting mental health and well-being is an investment with a calculable and reasonable return.
Investments in people as a defining asset of the 21st century economy also means fostering employment opportunities that demand uniquely human qualities and a focus AI on taking over specific tasks not whole jobs.
The AI revolution is now, and a look into the more distant future is also called for. Perhaps, in Canada, through a Royal Commission on the ‘Prospects for Human Dignity, Development and Health in the 21st Century.” Such an endeavor could be far-reaching in complex times.
To request additional information, schedule an interview, or receive copies of media releases and advisories, please contact us.
Our report, Mental Health in the Era of Artificial Intelligence, is the first is a series of discussions about the mental health and well-being of people in the face of serious public issues now confronting the world. First up, the revolution in artificial intelligence.
From this series, ultimately, we will paint a picture of what the ‘essentials of mental life in the 21st century are and must be. Scrolling down, you will find not only the full report on Mental Health in the Era of Artificial Intelligence in PDF that can be downloaded, but a series of extracts recapping the Report.
The report, as a booklet, is being distributed among leaders and organizations in business, science, health care, government and NGOs across North America and Europe.
Comments are welcome.
July 25, 2019
Bill Wilkerson, LL. D. (Hon) Executive Chairman, Mental Health International,
Industry Professor, International Mental Health, McMaster University
Efforts to create greater public understanding and acceptance of mental illness as a ‘natural’ part of the human experience have had some success in recent years.
But, still, the results are incomplete. This, for several reasons.
For one thing, allied sciences investigating internal/external causes of mental disorders have yet to produce an unambiguous, public-consumable statement as to what science knows as to what these invasive conditions are – and are not.
Over the past number of years, my job as a mental health advocate has been, among other things, to ‘translate’ what I come upon in various research reports and studies that I read on behalf of the people I claim to serve in my self-appointed mission.
Our report – Mental Health in the Era of Artificial Intelligence – is part of that process. As lay people, we can now make several deductions based on what science has reported.
Genes play an important role in the development and onset of mental illness but not without the influence and impact of the environments we are born into and in which we live, work, and co-relate with others.
The simple equation is this: gene + environment is the dynamic that produces the risk and the symptoms of mental illness.
The branch of science where this equation stems from is called ‘epigenetics’ – but, funny-enough, researchers are not always clear what they mean about ‘environment.’
Some refer to environment as the period prior to birth. Some refer to natural environments – air, land, water – despoiled by pollution, a reference not necessarily relating to mental disease but to disease more generally, respiratory being one.
Generally, though, it is fair to say that the environment is an active ingredient in shaping our vulnerabilities and all human beings are vulnerable to the gene + environment dynamic but not all of us are made ill by it. Notably, however, the G + E equation embodies the human factor.
Mental illness has physical properties and physical origins in brain cells, it can be triggered by physical trauma, abuse, deprivation, isolation and other experiences, some gradual, a lifetime in the making, others sharp, pointed factors.
This means how we treat each other contributes to the development and onset of mental illness. How we treat ourselves is also a factor including, very significantly, diet.
In our report on Mental Health in the Era of Artificial Intelligence, and the supporting summaries, we cite this finding: the human brain never functions without reference to the environment outside.
In effect, therefore, the seeds of mental illness are sown in our genetic selves combined the environments and experiences we inherit, create and go through. In effect, the accumulative effect of human affairs one unto the other.
Bill Wilkerson, Executive Chairman, Mental Health International, believes the nomenclature of mental health contributes to public misunderstanding of what mental illness is.
His answer to the question above was reviewed by Dr. Bruce Cuthbert, U.S. National Institute for Mental Health and Dr. Roger McIntyre, University Health Network, University of Toronto
Answer: MENTAL ILLNESS IS biological unrest in a person’s brain that upsets the brain’s machinery for thinking, feeling and perceiving. Brain circuits are working improperly. Mental Illness has physical properties and physical effects.
Mental illness is caused in some combination by what we’re born with (our genes) and what we experience in birth and in life, what we might call our collisions with life. In that light, mental illness is more like an injury.
Mental illness can be both inherited and experienced. In either case, mental illness is involuntary, uninvited, unwanted, is not a form of personal weakness and is not the fault of those who suffer.
The Canadian Armed Forces describe post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as ‘operational stress injury” and have dropped the word ‘disorder’ altogether.
In remarks to Canadian war veterans and their families, I described PTS(D) as a “the normal brain’s response to an abnormal event … like a severe concussion from the inside out.” Getting accidentally hit on the head is not your fault, neither is mental illness.
OF TWO MINDS - One Human, One Not
Mental Health in the Era of Artificial Intelligence
The world is crossing an historic bridge spanning human and artificial intelligence and the result is a meeting of two minds – one human, one not. Can we keep both healthy? That is unclear.
By Bill Wilkerson, LL. D. (Hon), Executive Chairman, Mental Health International and
Industry Professor, International Mental Health, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
CONTRIBUTED TO THE GLOBE AND MAIL
PUBLISHED MAY 26, 2019
In 2015, MHI and Lundbeck Canada partnered with Post Media to produce a 10-month, national advertising campaign building the case for an International Business-Science Partnership for Brain Health in a Brain Economy. The campaign attracted significant interest, especially online, and we invite readers to have a look at the campaign by visiting http://business.financialpost.com/category/brain-health or clicking the Brain Health link below.
Business and science hold the key to unlocking the door to brain health in a brain economy.
The goal of an International Business-Science Partnership for Brain Health is to hasten the transfer of vital brain discoveries into vital clinical benefits for everyday people, thus changing the world’s experience with brain-based mental disorders over the next 10 years.
Visit the Financial Post website for articles and resources.
These insights were prepared by Shannon McCoy, an employee of the Government
of Canada, at the request of Mental Health International and its Executive Chairman,
Bill Wilkerson, LL. D. (Hon), to post on www.mentalhealthinternational.ca and
www.targetdepression.com to share with employees and their employers in
managing the effects depression and anxiety. Read now >
January 10, 2019
Can International Business and Science Unite to Advance Global Mental Health in a Global Brain Economy?
Embassy of Canada to the United States of America
October 6, 2016
Global Mental Health & Psychiatry Newsletter: Career, Leadership and Mentorship Program
By Eliot Sorel, MD
Newsletter Volume II, No. 2 June 2016
Global Mental Health: A Powerful Investment in the Economies and Peoples of the World
In 2007, Canada’s Ambassador to the United States, Michael Wilson, the country’s onetime Minister of Finance and an international business leader, said major issues such as “energy, security and trade demand international solutions and I absolutely include mental health in that.”
By Eliot Sorel, MD, Senior Scholar in Healthcare Innovation and Policy Research, Clinical Professor of Global Health, Health Policy & Management, and of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences at the George Washington University, Washington, D.C.
Bill Wilkerson, L.L. D. (Hon), Founding Fellow, Institute for Mental Health, University of British Columbia, Chairman, Mental Health International, London, England and Port Hope, Canada
July 12, 2016
In March, 2013, the 5th US/Canada Forum for Mental Health and Productivity convened by Mental Health International at the prestigious Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto produced a powerful consensus among leaders in science and business that steps are called for to accelerate the translation of brain knowledge into improved treatments for brain-based mental disorders.
The Woodstock Tragedies
RE-RELEASE OF MENTAL HEALTH INTERNATIONAL
Guidelines for Working Parents To Protect Their Children Against The Risks of Suicide June 8, 2016
In light of the tragic events in Oxford County and the remarkable protest by high school students in Woodstock, MHI is re-issuing its suicide prevention Guidelines for Working Parents. This paper was originally released by Bill Wilkerson as Co-Founder of Global Business and Economic Roundtable on Mental Health. It has been updated and is being re-released given the continued urgency of this subject as reflected in the Woodstock tragedies. Read More >
June 8, 2016
BILL’S NOTE TO BUSINESS
KPMG REPORT DE-MYSTIFIES MENTAL HEALTH CARE SHORTAGE
‘Chaotic global Goals and metrics’ among factors driving incentive and structural misalignments that severely limit global mental health care. The elite global consulting firm, KPMG, has produced a report with the World Economic Forum that is one of the most telling assessments of the underlying reasons behind the lack of adequate care for those living with mental disorders.
By Bill Wilkerson, Executive Chairman, Mental Health International
Published on: June 6, 2016
A New Mental Health Plan Could be 'Turning Point' in PS Renewal
The federal government is poised to unveil a new mental health strategy that could be the “turning point” for an employer once dubbed the “worst of the worst” for its high level of chronic stress and depression among Canada’s public servants, said a leading mental health advocate.
Bill Wilkerson, chair of Mental Health International who is leading a pan-European campaign on depression, said a successful plan would change the way executives lead, managers manage and employees work, eliminating the stress that infected the public service like a “super bug” over the past decade.
By Kathryn May, Ottawa Citizen
Published on: May 31, 2016
Seven Steps Guide Towards a Mentally Healthy Organisation
World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Mental Health ‘Seven Steps Guide towards a Mentally Healthy Organisation’
April 19, 2016
CivicAction Mental Health Initiative, Comment by Bill Wilkerson
Executive Chairman, Mental Health International
April 18, 2016
Old News, New Again
HR Report story says depression and anxiety top the list of reasons people see their doctor.
February 18, 2016
Employers Must Address Emotional Trauma In The Workplace
In the wake of recent tragic events in Paris, employers must remain alert and responsive to the potential "emotional aftermath" of terrorist attacks among employees. Such events can cause considerable potential trauma and anxiety for workers, and employers have a responsibility to ensure that the workplace remains a venue of safety, security and open discourse. Read More >
by Bill Wilkerson, Huffington Post
November 30, 2015
Why workers need support after traumatic events: Paris attacks highlight need for help
In light of the recent events in Paris, Mental Health International released guidelines on how employers can help workers manage emotional trauma when there is a perceived threat to public safety. Bill Wilkerson, chair of the non-profit, received an honorary degree and delivered a convocation address for McMaster University Friday morning. Read More >
by Natalie Paddon, Hamilton Spectator, Nov 21, 2015
Life Will Go On, But This Is Not Business as Usual
Employers Urged to Take Seven Specific Steps to Help Employees Content With the "Emotional Aftermath" of France's 9/11.
London, England and Toronto, Canada
The chairman of a business-led workplace mental health campaign in Europe today counseled employers to be alert and responsive to the 'emotional aftermath' of the Paris attacks among their employees.
Bill Wilkerson, a Canadian who chairs the European Business Leadership Forum for Workplace Mental Health, and a European employer campaign called Target Depression in the Workplace this morning set out a seven-point guideline for employers in the wake of these traumatic events.
Monday, November 16, 2015 Read more >
Key Messages of Bill Wilkerson’s European Meetings and Speech Tour
Prior to the 2nd annual Business Leadership Forum in Rotterdam on November 12th, hosted by Unilever, Target chairman Bill Wilkerson, this spring and fall, is visiting six European centres to recruit interest in the Target campaign.
October 19, 2015 Read more >
Bill Wilkerson Hits the Road
Begins 6-city, 6-country speaking tour in Europe and US September - November
Since 2013, this Canadian has taken his pitch to employers for support of mental health to Dubai and 11 European capitals.
September 24, 2015 Read Press Release >
Mental Health International - This Website is a Free Public Resource
Introducing The Library of the Global Business and Economic Roundtable on Addiction and Mental Health
Special Link To The European Business Leadership Forum To Target The Impact of Depression in the Workplace
’THE TARGET CAMPAIGN'
Bill Wilkerson, Chairman
The non-profit company we call Mental Health International (MHI) was founded in 2013 by my colleague, Joseph Ricciuti and myself. This website contains strategies and analyses we have produced as we work across borders in North America and Europe.
This site is a resource for anyone with an interest in issues relating to business, the economy and brain health and specifically those brain-based, body-wide conditions labelled as mental disorders. This site, therefore, is not designed for interaction. It is a free resource.
Further, this site contains current/contemporary information but also the Official Library of the Global Business and Economic Roundtable on Addiction and Mental Health founded in 1998 and closed in 2011. Mental Health International is the Roundtable’s successor and the Library provides volumes of information, while dated, is still relevant to the cause.
It should be understood that MHI - like the Roundtable - is not a large organization with lots of staff. It is the mirror opposite of that. So I will continue to respond as best I can to inquiries and requests, but be assured, my effort in this regard will be imperfect.
As to the design of this site, we have abandoned completely all the standard headings and segment titles that web sites use today so visitors will understand this is a resource and not an interactive site.
Meanwhile, I can be reached at email@example.com - 905-885-1751. That said, given my European work and other matters, my availability is simply more limited than before.
Executive Chairman,Mental Health International
A Conflicting Picture
The “pipeline of new medicines” to treat brain disorders and injuries is at risk of drying up. At the same time, brain research itself appears to be “closing in” on the causes of brain-based mental disorders and national brain projects are occurring in many parts of the world.
Mental Health International - with the support of top business and scientific people - has proposed an International Business + Science Partnership for Brain Health in a Brain Economy to support a ten-point plan to accelerate the transfer of brain science into improved clinical care published by Nature Magazine and penned by the International College of Neuropharmacology (CINP).
To set out the “span of interest” and purposes of such a partnership for Canadian business leaders, MHI has launched a 10-month advertising campaign in Post Media newspapers across Canada, and on-line, in partnership with Lundbeck Canada, part of a global pharmaceutical research and development network specializing in the treatment of psychiatric and neurological disorders.
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