2019 is the year that will (hopefully) witness my graduation and attaining my MSc in Applied Project Management. The journey has been truly educational, demanding, frustrating and rewarding all at the same time. Now this is the final part of my degree when I have to work on my dissertation. Over the past summer, I have given it a proper thought on what I would like to work on and I am happy I am settled on my topic with my supervisor’s approval.

With mental health being a topic of utmost importance and focus in our current days, and with lots of people (of different ages) seeking help due to stress and mental health issues that the current days are bringing into our lives, I wanted to address this issue in a more formalised approach with the project management institutions.

I am a project manager and I work in a global employee wellbeing provider where we have employees from different countries, companies and sectors reach out to seek independent support to overcome their work stresses, anxieties and problems.

There is always an expectation from governments, major and global corporations to drive and rally key changes that our societies are facing. In the recent standard that was published by the Organisation of International Standards (ISO45001:2018), the standard of health and safety covers different aspects for any organisation to follow. The standard was released in a framework that is similar to many other international standards known as Anex SL. This framework introduces the application of the standard under the categories of context, leadership, planning, support, operations, performance evaluation and improvement.

So here is the question: why is the project management industry not responding promptly to this international occurrence of mental health and its impact on the work place?

Project Management Institute serves more than 2.9 million professionals including over 500,000 members in 208 countries and territories around the world, with 300 chapters and 10,000 volunteers serving local members in over 80 countries (PMI, 2019J. Similarly, The Association of Project Management has over 27,000 individual members and 500 organisations participating in the Corporate Partnership Programme making it the largest professional body of its kind in Europe(APM, 2019).

With that many professionals involved and exposure to the industry, why aren’t these two institutes taking a more proactive approach to managing and combatting the stress comes with project environments.

The topic was well received by my supervisor and I am now in the process of finishing up my proposal of what and how I will achieve this framework. He guided me to read about the Design Science research (DSR). And what an eye opener that was. It certainly opened my horizon and helped me focus more on how I want to approach this research. In a nutshell, the DSR states that while looking into introducing a solution, you must investigate the areas: the level of maturity of the existing solutions, and the level of maturity of its application. This will help you determine whether you are going to invent a new solution, extend existing solutions to the area you are researching, improve the existing solution in the area you are researching, or simply conduct a routine design.

I am excited to go through this mind set while conducting my research. The preliminary research I have done shows that I could well be extending what happens in other sectors to the industry of project management. That will definitely not take away a bit of creativity and innovation in the process.

Wish me luck, but most importantly, if you have any ideas or opinions about the matter, whether you are a project management professional or a mental health professional, I would like to hear from you.

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