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The University of Southampton
The India Centre for Inclusive Growth and Sustainable Development

The Pioneers - Poppy Jaman OBE, CEO of the City Mental Health Alliance and founding CEO of Mental Health First Aid England, in fireside chat with Barnie Choudhury Event

Poppy Jaman
14 May 2021
Presented via Zoom

For more information regarding this event, please email Jo Hazell at .

Event details

Nothing to see, everything to hide – how do we breakdown mental health barriers?

“Stigma does still exist, which makes it hard for people to feel that they can talk openly about their mental wellbeing, particularly in the workplace.”


Friday 14 May 2021, 1 pm (GMT), 5.30 pm (IST) via Zoom, please click HERE for registration. 

She is a third generation Briton of Bangladeshi origin who has made no secret of her struggles with depression from an early age.

As part of Mental Health Awareness Week (10-16 May), the University of Southampton’s India Centre and the Asian Media Group are proud to speak with Poppy Jaman, for their continuing Pioneers Fireside Chats.

Poppy left school at 16, was married at 17 and developed postnatal anxiety and depression at 20. She was a single mother until a decade ago and rising against the odds was not easy. But Poppy resumed her education and graduated with an MBA, becoming an inspirational advocate for mental health and wellbeing of people from diverse communities.

“Good mental health helps us to live a fulfilled life and helps us to flourish,” she told Eastern Eye. “Looking after our mental health is not only good for us now, it can also help us deal with and manage difficult times in the future.”

Poppy is committed to making “mental health first aid” a global priority, on a par with physical first aid.

“Leading by example is crucial to breaking down the stigma attached to mental illness. Encouraging compassionate dialogue which leads to positive action is crucial to creating psychologically safe workplace cultures where everyone can flourish.”

Poppy founded the Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England in 2009, which evolved from a small social enterprise to a fast growing, commercially successful Community Interest Company providing skills training, workplace wellbeing and mental health awareness promotion programmes.

In 2017, the Financial Times recognised MHFA as “one of the fastest growing SMEs in Europe”.  

Poppy was awarded an OBE in 2018, in recognition of her outstanding services to people with mental health issues. She featured in the 2019 FT list of Game Changers, and the same year Poppy was the Woman of the Year at the GG2 Culture and Diversity Leadership awards.

She served the Advisory Board of Public Health England (PHE) for two terms and as a non-executive director of PHE since 2014. Prior to this, she was the Race Equality Programme Lead for National Institute for Mental Health in England between 2004 and 2009.

This fireside chat is the fourth in the series of The Ramniklal Solanki Pioneers Project, launched in January 2021, which focuses on researching the untold inspirational biographies of south Asian diaspora in Britain. It aims to understand the associated wider sociocultural, intellectual and economic impact that south Asians have had on British society over the last 100 years. This interdisciplinary research project will create a digital platform where the data will be stored, curated and shared, with the aim that this platform can be augmented and become a ‘living legacy’ which truly captures the spirit of the United Kingdom. 

Previous Fireside Chats include British-Asian comedian, actress and writer Meera Syal; Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chair of the British Medical Association; and Neil Basu, assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan Police and national lead for counterterrorism policing.


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