Mind over money – from city trader to mental health supporter

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Mind over money – from city trader to mental health supporter

A London trader has left his lucrative career in the city to offer mental health support to those in the workplace 

Mark Martell and George Sanders
Mark Martell and George Sanders

Mark Martell, a former senior options trader at ADG Capital Management LLP, recently launched AzuraMinds, which provides mental health MOTs to employees in a confidential and independent environment.

Martell, 40, co-founded AzuraMinds in 2020 together with former colleague George Sanders, a broker-turned-therapist who had struggled with his own mental health.

Martell says: “I spent 15 years as an equity derivatives trader, interning at Goldman Sachs and then onto a number of London-based funds. However, the initial excitement was slowly engulfed by stress, anxiety and the struggles of balancing work and family, and I saw first-hand how so many others were feeling the same, across all types of industry.”

AzuraMinds, which offers services from both its Harley Street clinic and remotely, prides itself on being a preventative tool for mental health concerns. Father-of-three Martell explains: “Most mental health services out there are reactionary, whereas the AzuraMinds model is to provide employees with regular ‘MOT’ check-ins.  These identify any issues pre-emptively before they manifest into something greater and equip people with the tools to deal with situations early on.  Where necessary, AzuraMinds also provides easy access to a broad network of clinicians for those who need additional support.

“We want to normalise and destigmatise mental health, making going for a mental health MOT just as common as going to the dentist.”

According to reports, 1 in 4 employees experience some form of mental health issue. This leads to 91 million work days lost in the UK, at a cost of £42 billion to employers.

AzuraMinds works with businesses enabling them to offer all their employees a free and confidential Azura MOT, as well as ongoing well-being services provided by their broad network of clinicians.

Martell acknowledges that attitudes towards mental health have improved greatly, accelerated by the pandemic which took its toll on people’s wellbeing.

Mental health referrals are at an all-time high with the NHS reporting a record number of people referred for specialist mental health care last year – 4.3 million people were referred for conditions such as anxiety and depression.

“A lot has been done to put mental health at the forefront of people’s minds but current offerings by employers such as Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs) have a very low uptake – only approximately five per cent. Others, such as in-house Mental Health Champions, have limited success as the majority of employees want to speak to someone objective, outside the workplace”.

A former pupil at Haberdashers’ Boys’ School, after his internship at Goldman Sachs, Martell went on to secure top trading roles at Liquid Capital Group, Principle Trading and most recently, ADG Capital Management.

He recalls: “We came up with the idea five years ago. George was a colleague who had struggled with mental health issues and alcohol addictions. His life had become unmanageable, he went into therapy and came out a changed man, deciding to train as a therapist. He has been clean for almost 8 years, is 4 years qualified and is currently working on his doctorate – Addiction and Stress in the Workplace.“We started to talk about how we could help colleagues in the City as we were aware of people having breakdowns and even dying by suicide – and this was a few years ago when there was more of a stigma around mental health.”

Martell spent the next few years researching the market while still trading, before quitting his job in 2021 to focus on it full time.

He says: “I was one of those bravado guys who didn’t think mental health support was for me but I’ve been completely converted. I was definitely burnt-out trading, juggling family life and work – the stress was building. What I needed was a moment to put things in perspective, identify next steps and reconnect with my objectives.”

The benefits of positive mental health in the workplace are clear. Latest reviews in the UK state that every £1 invested by businesses in mental health programmes, returns up to £10 in improved health and increased productivity.

“Offering mental health provision enables companies to attract the best staff. It’s an appealing proposition for new employees. It enhances your reputation as an employer and investor in people. You can build loyalty, retain good people, lower rates of absenteeism and reduce presenteeism.

“AzuraMinds has the potential to disrupt and improve the existing corporate mental health and wellbeing offer. Our goal is to provide employees, across all industries, access to regular mental health MOTs throughout their working lives.”


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