Phil is the founder of a Liverpool-based mental health social enterprise called The Mind Map, helping to improve people’s mental health through counselling, training and awareness.
It was his own experiences growing up that influenced his decision to set-up an innovative mental health organisation that not only supports individuals, but also helps employers to create better practices to support wellbeing across their workforce.
“I realised I wanted to improve people’s mental health and create some things I wished had existed when I was young.”
Phil was born in Liverpool and grew up on the Wirral with his parents. His dad was a mental health nurse and his mum worked in nursing homes, neither went to university, but they both had hobbies involving writing and music that showcased their creative flair, something they passed on to their son.
For Phil, his education was a struggle. His ADHD resulted in teachers often telling him off for not concentrating. With his needs as a neurodivergent child not really being met through the education system, he left school and picked up a role with the job centre before enrolling on a government run music course.
With his NVQ Level 4 in music, he was eligible to apply for university, and so would begin a turning point his life.
“LJMU changed my life. Only two years before I’d been hospitalised because of my mental health. I spent a long period at around 18 in the house recovering and lost a lot of time where I should have been meeting people and just enjoying being young. So, when I got to LJMU and made some good friends, I was able to draw a line under those bad times.”
– Phil Bridges
“I was just happy to have been given the opportunity and put everything into it. It’s funny as I became a bit of a swot whereas in school I was the total opposite. I managed to get a first in English Literature and Cultural History and I remember being really inspired by tutors such as the late Jo Croft, Joe Moran and Morag Reid. They were lovely people, experts in their field but down to earth.
“I loved the mix of informal yet serious academia LJMU seemed to have. The atmosphere was always light and supportive. In some ways it felt like a college as the English Department were based in the building that is now LIPA primary.”
After graduating from LJMU Phil qualified as a journalist and moved into communications. He worked at Bluecoat for eight years as their publicist before moving into the mental health work that he does now, founding The Mind Map in 2017.
“We’ve helped thousands of people in the last five years at The Mind Map, through training, counselling, awareness raising and signposting. Some highlights include speaking about our work on Sky News and our recent commission by the University of Liverpool to create an AI powered mental health services finder. We’ve also delivered free community counselling programmes and provided mental health workshops in primary schools in collaboration with the LFC Foundation.”
Phil has also continued to stay in touch with LJMU as an inspiring alumnus, collaborating with our School of Psychology on research, hosting student interns, guest lecturing and even hosting an online mass guided meditation for staff, students and the wider city-region as part of the university’s wellbeing month in 2023.
“When we started The Mind Map, we collaborated with LJMU on a research project to understand young people’s experiences of online provision. And we recently gained further insight from LJMU for MindClass, our new online learning platform.
“I’m hoping to talk to LJMU further about our learning platform and would like to do some more guest lectures this year.”
Phil is absolutely passionate about all that The Mind Map does and is surrounded by likeminded people who have themselves, like Phil, been through challenging times. The organisation possesses a deep understanding of the interventions available to improve mental health outcomes for all, particularly by targeting support and awareness in the workplace.
“Supporting staff mental health is vital. Poor mental health costs UK employers up to £117.9 billion each year and up to 45% of employees would look for alternative employment if their employer didn’t provide support in relation to mental health.”
Email Phil if you would like to find out more about the work of The Mind Map or to try their learning platform MindClass.