One Million Lives - an insight in to the 'why' behind the project

It has been a difficult year for the highways and transport sector. It has been a difficult year for everyone. But despite this and the challenges it has brought to everyone’s health and wellbeing, sometimes, something amazing comes along to help - Today Paul Hendry VP for Heath and Safety at Jacobs explains their WHY,

Last week, Jacobs delivered just that. Its One Million Lives campaign, set up to promote positive mental health and wellbeing, provides a free mental health check-in tool that helps users assess their current state of mind and provide supportive suggestions for help and growth. As the title suggests, the aim is to make a difference to more than one million lives across the globe, not just for people working in the highways, transport and infrastructure sector, but to everyone.

The campaign’s vision is to start a movement that equips people with tools to understand and improve their mental health and to create ‘ripple effects’ to encourage friends, family and colleagues to do the same. It wants to encourage open conversations about mental health and to share knowledge on the subject to reduce stigma, creating a legacy-that people are excited and proud to be part of.

One Million Lives is the brainchild of Paul Hendry, Vice President of HSE at Jacobs,Peta Slocombe , a psychologist from Perth WA and a Jacobs team of wellbeing and mental health experts. The dream was to create something that would help people address their own mental health issues by providing something that was free and accessible to everyone. “We wanted something that focused on being preventative. To enable people to take control themselves. I felt that was missing from my experiences of different programmes that we had taken part with or knew about around the world. The ones were existed were good but tended to be reactive and I always felt there was something missing,” Mr Hendry tells the upcoming SH Magazine.

When Jacobs were a part of Australia’s biggest mental health ‘check in’ a few years ago, the results confirmed that this was something worth pursuing. “Some of the comments we were getting back from this were showing really promising signs that this was something special,” says Mr Hendry. Comments such as ‘this check-in really saved my life’ and ‘this was the first time I have sat down and talked to my wife about my mental health’ was the catalyst and evidence needed to convince the senior management team at Jacobs that this should be a major global project.

Armed with this detail and the experience of the already successful Mental Health Matters campaign, which Mr Hendry says was the ‘inspiration’ behind doing something that took this forward in a bid way, he took the idea to Jacobs’ President and Chief Operating Officer, Bob Pragada who loved the idea and gave his 100% backing for the project.

“And then covid hit, which meant working on this project was extremely challenging, but we were determined to get it done because we believed it really mattered, especially at a time like this. It is the most difficult projects I have every worked on because of the issues around data and cyber security-we couldn’t leave anything to chance there,” adds Mr Hendry.

“It was so important that we provided people with an app and website that people trusted us with. This was extremely sensitive data, so we had to get this right and go through the highest of legal assessments etc.”

But despite everything, the campaign is now readying for its official global launch of December 2nd. Even after a soft launch, at the time of writing, 2,300 people have completed the mental health ‘check in’ in just 8 days after the website and app going live.

Once they have finished, they then get access to a wealth of free resources to help them improve their life, which is designed around their tailored, personal report.

“This campaign has the chance to be successful and I hope it is because I think the Mental Health path we have in front of us is becoming more complex and challenging ” says Mr Hendry.

One of the non negotiables or key drivers for the campaign was to ensure it was ‘open’ and free to access for everyone. “A lot of large organisations have employer programmes but we wanted to make sure that SME’s-that form an increasingly important part of industry and society could be included to ensure their employees were being looked after, as well of course, as their colleagues, friends and family, and the general public,” he adds.

“As an organisation we really wanted to give back in this way to both the industry we operate in but also society in general to give people the chance to do something like this, that they may never have had the chance to otherwise-that was the biggest single driver for One Million Lives,” says Mr Hendry.

“We hope the ripple effect we are looking for really pushes this forward. It would have been much easier to do something within Jacobs. At a time like this, we wanted to hold hands with our competitors, our peers because together we can create a much bigger impact with this,” he explains. “The thing about this is that it will enable conversations around mental health to happen and the more people that talk the better.

The One Million Lives website and app is the enabler to this being as successful as possible.” The company will also release specific data at given times to show trends and help shape the campaign in the future.

But what is the hope for the campaign in two years’ time? “The concept is phenomenal, and my hope is this makes a difference to so many lives so the more people and organisations that support it, the more lives we can help.” Will it last 2 years, who knows? What I do know is that if it helps one person, one family it will have been worth all the effort.

Safer Highways is supporting One Million Lives. You can complete the mental health check in at: or by going to

Paul Hendry is also speaking at the Safer Highways Mental Health Summit on December 2nd.

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