Cover art for podcast Unleashing Social Change

Unleashing Social Change

45 EpisodesProduced by Becky MargiottaWebsite

Each episode we interview a badass social change leader and learn the ins and outs of what they're doing to make the world a better place. This podcast will help you feel optimistic that we can make a difference and give you practical tips about how to go about doing so in a big way.


Episode 21: Helen Smith, Forensic Psychiatrist (NHS) – “Creative Solutions that Arise When You Take the Fear Out of the System”

As co-founder of the Billions Institute, Joe McCannon says, when you invoke the John Cusack rule of taking the fear off the set, that’s when amazing things happen. In this episode, Helen Smith, a forensic psychiatrist, tells stories of some of the creative solutions that have arisen in her sector through freeing the front lines to improve the system and the joy that comes from experiencing these changes and sharing them with others. She also unpacks some of the language of “looking after” and walking alongside people vs. “treating” patients.

We’ll also discuss how returning to curiosity is the key in openness to discovery and how to nurture the liberating structures that can change the relationship between staff and patients to bring healing. When hierarchies are flattened and the environment of humility and humanity are elevated, there can be beautifully simple solutions that aren’t learned in textbooks. Listen in on this beautiful discussion out of which uncovering purpose and joy can produce remarkable results. 

Show Highlights:

  • Background into what forensic psychiatry is and those Helen and her team serve
  • Accessing compassion and humanity when working with those who are deeply distressed
  • The importance of identifying each individual’s genius and redefining success
  • The mental model of walking alongside someone and helping them manage their own mental health vs. doing it for them which does not help them when released
  • Helen’s experience of being released to her own genius and what brings her deep joy
  • The SCARF Model and how they activate personas
  • Helping others improve the things they want to improve and see how much joy they get from experiencing it and sharing with each other
  • Weaning people off of you and give them one another is how to create large scale change
  • Advice for leaders to not sit at the back on computers, but be in the mix and flatten the hierarchy and participate as your authentic self
  • Allowing mistakes as learning experiences and the importance of having fun with one another and test out new structures
  • Modeling and communicating to others as a leader that mistakes are learning experiences and expected
  • The specific goal of their practice of reducing restrictive interventions – restraints, seclusions and reducing rapid tranquilization
  • Remarkable results they are getting through the Breakthrough Collaborative model
  • Changing the relationship between staff and patients
  • Two successful interventions that arose from deeply understanding what irritates patients


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