Former Worth student Toby Clyde-Smith is head of sales and marketing for The Positive Group, a group of psychologists and neuroscientists that work to apply cutting edge psychology and neuroscience to optimise health and performance. To mark Mental Health Awareness Week, Toby talks about his work in this week’s Alumni in the News feature.
Toby, who was in Gervase, left Worth in 2003 and started his career in finance before going on to gain a first-class degree in Psychology from the University of Roehampton. He is now with The Positive Group working with more than 40 schools across the UK, a number of universities including Oxford, Cambridge and UCL and businesses around the world in sectors such as law, financial services and the public sector such as the NHS.
His work has taken on even greater importance during the pandemic. He said: “In the last year we have seen a perfect storm of risk factors emerge for our psychological health, unprecedented uncertainty, anxieties about our health and financial security, worries about the safety of our friends and family, loneliness and many more. There is initial evidence that suggests the prevalence of depressive and anxiety related symptoms has risen in the general population from one in six people pre-pandemic to one in four.
“This rise, which has been felt particularly strongly in certain demographics, will place extraordinary pressure on the mental health services in the country, with the Centre for Mental Health suggesting that 10 million people will need support in the coming years, a figure that includes 1.5 million children. We are working to provide preventative and proactive solutions to this anticipated demand so that we do not experience a bottleneck so severe that people in crisis need to wait months before getting treatment. The responsibility for this lies with all of us, every school, university and business.
“Luckily, there is a mountain of first-class evidence that suggests there are a number of tools and techniques that healthy people can use to protect their psychological health, foster greater resilience, create a network of social support and become tolerant of uncertainty. We have run a number of webinars in the last year exploring these topics, as well as blogs which discuss many of the key challenges and introduce some of the most important concepts.”
Worth Society is the School’s thriving alumni association that enables former pupils and staff to stay in touch with one another for business and social networking purposes, providing careers advice, support and lifelong guidance. The Society has become increasingly involved in supporting recent leavers. This year’s Year 13 leavers will become members of the Society this summer.