UP NEXT This Can Happen Talks – half-day conference on 22 March 2022 - BOOK NOW

Toni Graves on chairing the This Can Happen Awards

This year, I will once again chair the judging panel for This Can Happen Awards, which recognise the companies and individuals doing exceptional work to promote positive mental health in the workplace. 

In last year's inaugural awards, the standard of entries was very high. One of the things that stood out for me was the personal commitment and drive of individuals. Companies are implementing effective policies and programmes, which of course are important, but what shone through was the determination of people to really help others and drive progress. 

That's because, like me, many of those involved have their own personal stories on top of their professional motivations. I had such strong support at work when going through a difficult time in my life, and I care deeply that others have the same support when dealing with their own mental health issues.

I found it encouraging to see themes emerging in how companies are addressing mental health. Intersectionality was one, with companies making targeted interventions, for example with the LGBT+ community, as well as integrating mental wellbeing within wider inclusion programmes. Another was looking at mental health through the lens of, perhaps, a graduate or trainee and considering what it means for people at different stages of their careers.

I enjoyed the judging process immensely last year. Like This Can Happen's annual conference, the range of experts who came together – doctors, clinicians, HR professionals from the public and private sectors – generated a lively debate. Listening to different perspectives persuaded many of us to change our minds about the eventual winners – as a good judging process should.

The only category we could not pick a winner in was Innovation. It is difficult to show real originality in this space – so there's a challenge to this year's entrants! In part, this is because it can be hard to demonstrate the direct impact of work on mental health, but what we want to see is clear articulation of aims and a methodology for measuring progress, even if that is long term.

My advice is to stay focused on the personal impact of what you are doing – ultimately, as everyone working in this space knows, it is all about people.

Good luck to those who have entered and I very much look forward to being inspired as much by this year's entries.

Toni Graves
Global Head of Reward and Wellbeing at Allen & Overy 

Sign up for our monthly newsletter

Keep up-to-date on new resources & content from This Can Happen

Sign up now

This Can Happen Friends

Interested in becoming a This Can Happen Friend? Find out more about our 12 month rolling programme to support employee mental health strategies within your workplace.


I left with renewed energy, practical solutions and confident with the knowledge that having a Wellbeing Strategy should happen, must happen, can happen! Looking forward to 2020 already!

Karen Greville-Woods, Office Manager, Withers & Rogers Group LLP