On Wednesday 2 May, over 60 leaders in the insurance industry came together for EML’s third Inspiring Women luncheon, held in Melbourne. The event is designed to connect women in the industry and inspire them through hearing the stories of other accomplished women leaders.

The keynote speaker was Professor Jane Burns, who has over over twenty years’ experience as a C-suite executive, holding positions in the mental health sector with beyondblue and ReachOut.com. Jane was the founder and CEO of the Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre, which focused on digital health solutions to improve the mental health and wellbeing of young people.

Professor Jane Burns

Jane talked about about shifting the conversation about mental illness to mental fitness – which is about optimising the way our brain responds to stress, both good and bad.

“The conversation has moved over the years, says Jane.  “But we still have work to do in addressing stigma before anyone puts up their hand to say that they themselves experience a mental illness, such as anxiety, depression or eating disorders,” Jane told the group. “Yet we know that a large percentage of the population experiences this.”

­Jane spoke about how we can use technology to promote mental fitness, particularly for young people, and about the difficulties of ensuring that people receive the right care at the right time to support their mental health.

“We know social media can put pressure on young people’s mental health, but we can use technology for good,” says Jane. “It’s important to involve young people in creating useful digital tools and resources. We need to help them build mental resilience by creating a safe environment to experience failure.”

Talking about the need to embrace ‘the messiness of life’ and take risks, Jane shared some of the key lessons she’s learned in her personal and professional life: maintain strong social connections, be authentic and work with people who share your values, understand the risk appetite of your organisation, and invest in your team’s vision.

“No matter how small your team, you need to invest in creating relationships,” says Jane. “This has a big impact on your team’s health and wellbeing.”

You can read about Jane’s recommendations about apps to support mental wellbeing ­here.