Geoff McDonald


Mental Health, Psychological Safety


Core Community, UK


Geoff McDonald, shares his mental health journey on the BBC The One Show


I have a very simple purpose in life, i.e. to ensure that people in the working world feel they have the choice to ask for help if suffering from depression, anxiety or bipolar, just like they feel they have that choice for any other physical illness.



Geoff’s background in teaching, HR, marketing, communications and sustainability is considerable. During his 25 years with Unilever (a global corporation with a turnover of £50 billion, 170,000 employees in 90 countries around the world), Geoff played a central role in transforming Unilever’s business model with purpose at its core.

His innovative approach, together with the Head of HR UK at the time, in addressing the issue of stigma associated with depression and anxiety within Unilever was ground breaking for a large, global, multi-national organisation. Geoff’s HR experience at Unilever involved working internationally in Africa, Middle-East, Turkey, Australasia, Asia, Europe and the Americas and his HR experience has spanned leadership and talent development, organisational change, capability development, with particular reference to marketing, and business transformation with purpose at its core.

In addition to his role at Open Minds Health, Geoff is a Facilitator at the Forward Institute (a leadership development programme), Senior Advisor to Global PR firm Burson Marsteller on Corporate Purpose and Change, and a Trustee at the Charity Family Links.

He’s also actively involved with a number of progressive workplace initiatives, campaigns and movements dedicated to reducing mental health stigma within the working world and has provided pro bono advisory work to both David Cameron (in his role as Prime Minister) and Royalty.

Geoff is an inspiring, passionate public speaker who has also participated in a number of BBC programmes (BBC Radio 4, Mens Hour Radio 5, etc) and campaigns on the subject of corporate mental health, as well as writing of articles for Huffington Post, FT, The Daily Telegraph and HR related journals.


Current Situation

I now have a very simple purpose in life,” says McDonald, who stepped down from Unilever in 2014 and now focuses his energies on Minds@Work, “Whether it be big business, the NHS, the police, or the army, or anywhere else – I want people in those organisations to feel that they have the choice to put their hand up if they are suffering from anxiety or depression. I want them to know they’ve got that choice, just as they would if they were suffering from a physical illness.