Reward Live: Hamlet was the original stressed worker

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Actor Tom Mallaburn wowed the Reward Live audience with a talk with a difference: three Shakespeare soliloquies to reveal to delegates how the human condition (and how stress, depression and anxiety), have largely remained unchanged.

His presentation uncovered the mental frailties of Hamlet – the Danish prince troubled by indecision and mental torture over how to avenge the death of his father. Two readings revealed how the young prince simply could not decide what to do, and how he was consumed (perhaps) by madness.

Mallaburn said: “Hamlet is unable to confide in anyone else, leaving himself alone with his thoughts.” But he said: “The more a person has just themself to argue with, the more likely decisions made will be made that are ill-conceived or rash.”

Mallaburn observed that little has changed in the workplace, where mental issues are now likely to impact at least one person in four at some point in their life.

He said: “Eventually Hamlet saw a decision by a neighbouring prince to invade part of Poland as the reason to kill the main he suspected of killing his father; a legal act to explain an illegal one.' He added: 'He’s talked himself into doing something for totally the wrong reasons. While a problem shared in not necessarily halved, keeping a problem to yourself can potentially double it.”

He was followed by Jane Cattermole of Minding your Business. She said: “In the workplace we are more likely to come across someone who is depressed or is suicidal than who will have a heart attack. But firms put lots of resource into first aid, but very little in mental first aid.”