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World’s Largest Sleep Study

November 1st, 2018

The preliminary results of the world’s largest sleep study which involved participants taking CBS cognitive tests are now available.

Click here to read some of the findings. Reasoning and verbal ability are most affected by sleep whilst those who sleep for only 4 hours a night, perform as if they are 9 years older.

The implications are significant as many people, including those in positions of responsibility, operate on very little sleep and may suffer from impaired reasoning, problem-solving and communication skills on a daily basis.

Another piece of the productivity puzzle?


How to think about Cognition

September 20th, 2018

This easy to follow and punchy white paper from Cambridge Brain Sciences includes a note from Professor Adrian Owen, their Chief Scientific Officer. Adrian is also Canada Excellence Research Chair in Cognitive Neuroscience and Imaging.

It covers how to manage brain health and keep mentally fit. This includes advice on Sleep, Exercise, Diet and Nutrition, Stress and Anxiety.

Well worth a read.




Cambridge Brain Sciences

September 20th, 2018

Delighted to say that I’m now working with the team at Cambridge Brain Sciences . Based on my experience,  I strongly believe that their proposition for assessing cognition best meets the needs of providers and those being assessed.

Flexible and scalable, their assessments can be taken on multiple platforms – laptops, desktops and tablet devices.

The tests are engaging and an unintimidating experience for users ensuring accurate results.

The science includes test result correlation with advanced brain mapping and brain imaging. They have completed 8 million tests globally and are also behind the world’s largest study into sleep and cognition

Please contact me if you would like to know more either at john@shandwell.com  or john.picken@cambridgebrainsciences.com

Mental Health at Work

September 13th, 2018

Mind have just launched this new website, www.mentalhealthatwork.org.uk

It’s a free to access online library of information and reference points for mental health at work resources and toolkits.

Worth knowing about.


This Can Happen

May 24th, 2018

I recently met with Zoe Sinclair, one of the founders of the corporate mental health conference, This Can Happen, taking place in London on 20th November this year. Their website is www.tchevents.com

What really impressed me and got my support is how they want to shift awareness into action. The focus is on solutions led tools and fresh content. Every session will have an outcome, something practical that delegations can take back into their organisations.

You can get a good feel for what the team are looking to achieve in their launch video and their latest Advisory Meeting. 

If you or your organisation would like to register, let me know.

Government Review Recommends Routine Monitoring of Employee Mental Health and Wellbeing

November 6th, 2017

The output of Thriving at Work, a review of mental health and employers, commissioned by the Government and led by Lord Dennis Stevenson and Paul Farmer was published 26th October 2017.

The accompanying statements introducing the review on Gov.UK include:

The most important recommendation is that all employers, regardless of size or industry, should adopt 6 ‘mental health core standards’ that lay basic foundations for an approach to workplace mental health.

One of the mental health core standards is the routine monitoring of employee mental health and wellbeing’

Supported by a growing body of research including Deloitte’s Mental Health and Wellbeing in Employment Study, there is now wide consensus that greater socio-economic benefits come from investing in assessment and prevention rather than post event remediation.

We do not wait for someone to have a heart attack before offering them a routine blood pressure check. Routine monitoring of mental health needs to be universally adopted. Implementation of the Thriving at Work recommendations would be a major step in helping this become a long awaited reality. What is measured can be managed.

It was a privilege to be invited to contribute to the review and everyone responsible for producing it should be congratulated.


DWP Fuller Working Lives Strategy

February 2nd, 2017

Today the DWP has published its strategy document for Fuller Working Lives with its stated ambition to support individuals aged 50 years and over to remain in and return to the labour market and tackle the barriers to doing so.

Through CANTAB Corporate Health, I was pleased to support the development of the strategy as part of the health management group.

One of the key areas of health as we get older is cognition – our thinking ability.  Our cognitive health determines what work we can do and how long we can do it for.

Giving people the opportunity to measure their cognitive health enables them to understand how their performance  relates to their age and other factors.  If it is below expected levels then they can take action to remediate or improve.

Employers now recognise just how important this is and are incorporating CANTAB assessments into their health and wellbeing programmes.

To find out more, please visit www.cantabcorp.com or contact me at john.picken@cantabcorp.com




Dame Carol Black visit to CANTAB Corporate Health

May 26th, 2016

In a recent visit to CANTAB Corporate Health, Dame Carol who is the government’s expert adviser on health and work, highlighted the need to measure cognition to help tackle the mental health crisis  in the workplace.

It was very good of her to spend time with us and share her views which you can read by clicking here

The Benefits of Measuring Cognitive Health

May 18th, 2016
‘Cognition is central to who we are and what we do and, much like physical health, cognition can be viewed along a continuum from optimal functioning to mild cognitive impairment to neurological disease. However, issues with our cognitive health very rarely show outward signs of being a problem until they are quite far developed. And, as with most conditions, the earlier such problems are identified the better the prognosis and outcome.’

You can read the full article by clicking here.

DWP Fuller Working Lives Programme

April 22nd, 2016

I’m currently supporting the DWP Fuller Working Lives Programe as part of the Health Management strategy group looking at ways to improve the health of age 50+ employees.  Cognitive health is a key risk in this growing demographic – already comprising 32% of the workforce according to the ONS.

The strategy group is looking for employers who can provide case studies of any work they have done specifically addressing the health of their employees in this age range.

If you know of any employers who would be happy to share what they are doing in this area, please contact me either via this website or at john.picken@cantabcorp.com

Many thanks