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Inspirational Speaker on the topics of Mindset, Resilience & Mental Health

Petra Velzeboer

travels from UK

Keynote Speaker / TedX / HR Consultant / Psychotherapist / Cult Survivor / Mental Health Expert / CEO of PVL / Moderator

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5 out of 5 stars

"Inspirational! The talk was targeted at the right level and staff really felt they got a lot out of it."

Alison Jacob - Edgware Primary School See all references
Non-binding request for Petra Velzeboer

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About Petra

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Request fees and availability
Petra brings a human experience to everything she does. Dynamic, funny and practical, audiences leave her talks changed and ready to take action. Challenging both personal and organisational responsibility for mental health at work, her personal experience of growing up globally creates impact on virtual platforms and in places like Washington, London, Singapore, Hong Kong, Europe and South Africa.  She seamlessly dances between clinical advice and expertise for HR and Leaders to sharing her moving story of being raised in a cult and building her own resilience from rock bottom.

Invest in your employees with a dynamic and uplifting keynote on Mental Health at Work:

  • Petra highlights the business case for mental health at work with Senior Leadership, highlighting practical skills for making authentic culture change.
  • She helps Human Resources understand that mental health can longer be a tick box but must be strategic and embedded in everything we do in order to help retain talent, reduce absenteeism and increase innovation in a new world of work.
  • All employees are encouraged to take personal responsibility for their mental health and supported to be the change they want to see in the world.
  • Petra has a well rounded approach to mental health and always connects the dots between a leaders mental health and wellbeing to the employees mental health and wellbeing. These two go hand in hand.

Petra is known for her ability to bring humour and lightness to a traditionally heavy topic. She believes that mental health is about everyone and, influenced by positive psychology, is
about creating cultures where we talk about what thriving looks like not just what to do when people have poor mental health. Petra is a psychotherapist, executive coach and holds an MSc in Psychodynamics of Human Development. She is the founder of Mental Health Consultancy PVL and started her business out of acute frustration having worked in the wellbeing industry and realised people were talking a good game but were often toxic on the inside. Her mission was set to see if she could create a business that fully lived it’s values and proved that a mentally healthy
culture was possible at every level of the business.

With Petra’s clear expertise you would think this was always her plan. This couldn’t be further from the truth. She was actually born and raised in the notorious religious cult, The
Children of God, growing up in communes across the globe believing the world was going to end. She didn’t go to school and as a teenager felt confused and lost, descending into
alcohol addiction and depression.

At 23 she was a young mother, had moved to London and had no future mapped out – ostracised from any community she knew. This experience of isolation, loneliness and avoiding taking responsibility for her state of mind is akin to how many of us have been feeling throughout the pandemic. The rules we had for life no longer applied and we’ve had to evolve our wellbeing tools and community as well as question friends and even our own thinking as we learn to thrive in unprecedented times.

Desperate and suicidal, she reached a catalyst moment deciding she could no longer be a victim of her past and began the slow journey to health, resilience, education and eventually
an illustrious career.

She viscerally describes the moment she wanted to end everything and the secondary thought that came into her mind – the thought that she could postpone taking her life for just
one year. She now had a way out and it opened up a small window of possibility. In this year she was determined to experiment with all the ways she could improve her mental health and overall life. She describes how this year came and went and life wasn’t perfect but she had learned a few things – including how we can teach ourselves to be happy. We can learn how to improve our mental health and over time we can radically alter the trajectory of our lives.

Her message is one of hope in darkness and practical advice and support through any challenge. Her audience will laugh, they will cry and ultimately they will leave with ideas for change for both them and people around them.

Her experience of a toxic cult influences her ability to assess toxic workplaces and her education and global experience allows her to quickly see the challenge and advise on practical solutions for real world change.

She is the CEO of a thriving mental health consultancy and training company that teaches individuals and teams how practising courage and vulnerability enhances productivity, fulfilment and happiness. Her keynotes are motivational, inspirational and filled with practical tools for tackling the mental illness epidemic that is rampant through our schools, workplaces
and families.

See keynotes with Petra Velzeboer
All keynotes can be adapted to an audience of HR, Wellbeing Leaders and all Employees.

Wellbeing in times of change

Investing in your mindset and building resilience can be challenging during times of uncertainty, this keynote will help you tackle:

● The mental attitude necessary for evolving our approach to a new world of work
● Investing in your mindset to sustain success
● Creating psychologically safe culture to help people thrive
● Retaining talent
● Effective change management.

All keynotes can be adapted to an audience of HR, Wellbeing Leaders and all Employees.

Building a Strategic Approach to Mental Health Awareness

Only focussing on mental health on awareness days is now seen as a tickbox and no longer sufficient for a post-pandemic world. Covid-19 has increased rates of poor mental health globally which means in order to evolve your workforce, this must be a key objective at all levels of the business including Senior Leadership, HR and your Mental Health Champion Networks:

This talk will:
● Provide mental health awareness to all levels of the business
● Highlight the benefits of a mental health plan and simplify the steps to creating one
● Offer insight on supporting others who may be struggling with their mental health
● Bring this strategy to life for employees, wellbeing leads and management

All keynotes can be adapted to an audience of HR, Wellbeing Leaders and all Employees.

Building Grit in a noisy world

Stress and building resilience are big buzz words in organizations. We want our people to be able to handle what life throws at them and thank us for the opportunity! This talk provides practical tools for managing stress, avoiding burnout and developing a mindset that sustains long term success.

It includes:
● Practical tools for building resilience and developing self awareness
● Reframing our leadership approach to one of courage and vulnerability
● Understanding burnout and the physiological impact of long term stress
● Intentional investment in our wellbeing

All keynotes can be adapted to an audience of HR, Wellbeing Leaders and all Employees.

Managing Remote Teams

In a hybrid world, building remote culture and managing remote teams is a crucial skill to ensure talent retention and high productivity. This talk includes:
● Leadership skills for a hybrid world
● Building culture, trust and psychological safety
● Practical check in exercises and questions
● Top Tips for effective team meetings
● Noticing poor mental health virtually – and what to do about it!

All keynotes can be adapted to an audience of HR, Wellbeing Leaders and all Employees.

Leadership, Performance, and Mental Health

Many leaders and managers are tired, burnt out and feeling compassion fatigue! It seems the role has expanded to include emotional support, listening and making sure everyone else is ok. Well what about you?? This talk highlights the pressure leaders experience, how
their mental health is more important than ever and how leading by example creates lasting culture change.

Petra includes:

● Practicing empathy is not being a pushover
● Understand limits and boundaries – and communicate them to your team
● Empowering employees to take personal responsibility for their wellbeing
● Leadership skills for a new world of work
● Expert advice on the line between performance and mental health

Moderation and Hosting events on Wellbeing and Mental Health:

Petra is a dynamic host and moderator of podcasts and live events highlighting the expertise
of others on the topics of personal development, leadership and mental health.

Watch speaker Petra Velzeboer in action!

Petra Velzeboer Keynote Speaker - The Future of Work

Petra Velzeboer - video

A-Speakers // Petra Velzeboer Show Reel 2022

Watch speaker Petra Velzeboer in action

Three Ways to Live the Life You Want | Petra Velzeboer | TEDxOxford

See keynotes with Petra Velzeboer


Inspirational! The talk was targeted at the right level and staff really felt they got a lot out of it.

Alison Jacob

Edgware Primary School

We had the pleasure of having Petra speak at an internal Guardian employee event for mental health awareness week 2019. The honesty in which she shared her personal experience was quite moving. She was both informative and inspirational. I would highly recommend her talks.

Tina Moynihan, Event Producer

The Guardian News & Media

Petra certainly knows her stuff and has the ability to put it across in a no nonsense, practical and highly inspirational way. She brings the perfect balance of support and challenge to everything that she does. We were lucky to have Petra support a number of events at William Hill and it was a pleasure to work with her. A pleasure that I hope that we will be able to repeat again soon.

Rachel Greenway, Talent & Capability Director

William Hill

Petra's keynote speech at the UnA conference was incredible. With such a tricky subject to discuss, she got the point across in a way that isn't too clinical or condescending but was instead, magnificent.  Petra is funny, engaging, to the point and actually knows what she's talking about! I feel that she's given me everyday tools to start making mental health a daily conversation with friends, family and colleagues.

Philipa Davis

UNA Alliance

‘We wanted to hold a dynamic session on mental health that would really provide some valuable takeaways for staff during National Inclusion Week. Petra’s personality and down to earth nature helped to ensure her session really got through to our employees. We wouldn’t hesitate to work with Petra again and the feedback we have received following the session has been incredibly positive’

Hugo Drummond Event Organiser,

The Guinness Partnership.

“We wanted to close our conference with a memorable moment – and Petra delivered on an often- ignored issue: our mental health. With positive vibes, an energetic speech, get-together touchy moments and many wake-up calls, the participants were taken on an emotional roller-coaster of positive attitudes towards our… mind.”

UNIBA Partners, October 2019

UNIBA Partners

“We invited Petra to speak at our Mental Health Awareness event on dealing with stress and were blown away by her incredible unique story and her authenticity. She is an accomplished presenter and coach who provided a tonne of practical advice on how to look after your mental health told through unforgettable stories and analogies. We’re now getting her back in to be part of our leadership development curriculum.”


"Petra has worked with MVF to support our internal MH strategy. Through her tailored coaching sessions she builds a structured plan to achieve specific goals during the coaching period. The impact of my sessions with Petra has helped to build my confidence around language and in turn enabled me to create a space for open discussions about MH at MVF. Petra's style is direct and empathetic and her clinical support and advice offers an extra edge to the work you do with her. I highly recommend coaching sessions with Petra, whether you are just starting on your mental health strategy or looking to develop it further.

Hannah Meredith

MVF Global

Petra has been instrumental in helping me bring our wellbeing strategy to life. She delivered some brilliant training to our line managers and upskilled some employees to be our mental health ambassadors. Petra has also worked closely with some of our senior team coaching them and helping them reach their full potential. Over the last year, she has helped us introduce some really positive changes in the workplace, and i am extremely grateful

Sally Smithson HR Director


We invited Petra to speak at a conference with 50+ construction staff & everyone was blown away by the insight that Petra offered into our own selves. It was almost astounding to watch the shift in the room as it became ok for everyone to talk to each other. We are fortunate that this has reflected positively in productivity and we are hopeful that with Petra’s ongoing support, this dynamic has permanently changed for the better.

Managing Director The Built World Ben Ward

The Built World Ben Ward

Petra takes the sensitive subject of mental health and makes it accessible to anyone regardless or their background or experience. Petra is a true partner, bringing awareness and sustainability of employees mental well-being into organisations. Examples include 1) developing a mental health ambassador programme to provide confidential support within the organisation. And 2) Developing managers in simple bite sized chunks to equip them with the confidence to manage mental health to support their best performance within team.

Kirstin Furber. Chief People Officer


Petra was brilliant & I could spend all day listening to her. really interested in topic. One of the best seminars I have attended. It was a fantastic event and I have come away with a lot of fresh ideas on how best to manage/evaluate mental health in my working environment

Bruce Stevenson Insurance

Interview with Petra Velzeboer

What do you gain personally from being a public speaker?

I love that “aha” moment when people in the audience really get something that relates to their personal life and allows them to grow as human beings. Talking about empathy and mental health, there’s a point where I’ve been totally vulnerable myself in order to give people permission to be real about their stories, and I have to wait and see if it pays off. Every group is different but I get a real sense of purpose out of my own story when people are inspired or utilise it as a springboard to have real and authentic conversations.

Who or what inspires you most?

Of course, there’s the big names like Nelson Mandela, Oprah Winfrey and Elon Musk, but I derive great inspiration from the average person who has succeeded despite great challenges. When I interview people on my Adversity to Advantage podcast I am moved by the guy who is studying, has healthy relationships and a job after 20 years of drug addiction, the reformed prisoner who is building an honest life for himself, the successful entrepreneur who’s drive has come from running from her past. These stories of resilience and triumph inspire me to continue pushing to create my own impact in the world.

What are your biggest goals in your life or career currently?

My biggest goals include sustaining good mental health for myself, supporting my teenage children to have resilience and great character as adults and to spread my message of hope to millions of people in the world.

I’ve learned the hard way that if I don’t invest in myself then I’m no use to anyone. I do this by trying to have a meditation practice but also engage in fun, joy and connect with great people.

I ask myself in life and in business: Do I love doing this, does it bring me joy, can I have fun while I’m doing it? These questions direct me to things that give me a balanced and joyful life. Finally, I believe firmly that if I’d had a message of connection, authenticity and hope when I was suicidal 12 years ago, then I wouldn’t have suffered as long as I did. I want to be that voice for people suffering now.

Describe yourself in 3 words

  • Ambitious
  • Authentic
  • Dynamic

Why do you think mental health at work has become such a popular keynote topic?

Reports such as Thriving at Work highlight that the cost of poor mental health at work comes to £33 to £42 billion annually; this includes absenteeism, presenteeism and staff turnover. Employers are waking up to the case for prevention and are looking for ways to promote good mental health. Health and Safety has brought down physical incidents tremendously over the past decade, however with suicide statistics on the rise, they’re realising they’ve got to focus on the Health aspect as well as Safety in order to have the impact they’re after.

Children and Young people are experiencing 70% more symptoms of depression, anxiety and other mental health issues than the previous generation, leading parents and schools to try to understand what they can do to support this epidemic. The World Health Organisation calls depression ‘a global public health concern’ and concludes that ‘depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide in terms of total years lost due to disability’.

The keynotes I run on this topic inspire awareness as well as practical change within ourselves and our workplace cultures. Not only are companies looking for greater productivity, but people are looking for authentic connection in a digitally fractured world. All of these issues can be tackled in a mental health keynote.

Do you have a favourite experience from your speaking career?

There’s just so many! The first time I was vulnerable enough to tell my own story had a profound impact on me. Not only was I intensely nervous but I also realised the power of our story, as the risk of putting myself out there more than paid off in the room, as participants connected on an authentic level and left with real value.

Another favourite is speaking to a group of young offenders and challenging them to create change. 2 of them came to me after the group telling me about the impact I’d had on how they’re thinking about things and that was extremely fulfilling.

I’ve also really enjoyed the challenge of speaking at a Senior Leadership conference within the construction industry. There were mostly men in the sea of faces and I thought, this is gonna be a tough crowd to crack! After telling my story and asking them to tell each other what impact mental health had on their lives, I asked them to stand up if mental health had impacted them in some way: 90% of the room stood up. From that point on it was just like any other group eager to learn, be vulnerable and create change within their work culture.


Mental Health and Ambition: How to work your way up

So, you’ve got lots of ambition, you want to be successful and really make a difference in your world. You’ve always dreamed big BUT, you struggle with your mental health.  Many people feel that once they get diagnosed with a mental health condition – that’s it. They must accept their diagnosis and probably only push […]

Read more
See keynotes with Petra Velzeboer
Non-binding request for Petra Velzeboer

Send a simple request. You’ll get a quick reply with fees and availability

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
Petra Velzeboer
Petra Velzeboer

5 out of 5 stars

"Inspirational! The talk was targeted at the right level and staff really felt they got a lot out of it."

Alison Jacob - Edgware Primary School See all references

Keynote topics with Petra Velzeboer