Talking about mental health can be difficult. Many still consider discussing the topic of mental wellbeing to be taboo, especially in male-dominated sectors like the trade.
But at On The Tools, we understand the power of opening up discussions around mental health and wellbeing. Even something as small as ringing up your mate at the end of a difficult day can make a big difference.
For last week’s episode of Talking Trade, Andy spoke to Paddy, a pylon painter, about his personal experiences with mental ill-health, signs to watch out for, and places you can go to for support.
Here are the top three things that we learned:
1. Opening up can make the difference
Paddy tells us about a time when he was working in Wales, away from his wife and kids. Although he was struggling with his mental health, it wasn’t until a colleague on-site opened up about his own experiences that he understood what was happening and how to take action:
“He was explaining to us how he felt and he was really quite open. It resonated with me a bit. I was like, ‘yeah, that’s how I’m feeling.’
I was really struggling and I didn’t know why. I had anxiety, but I didn’t know what it was. He gave me the confidence to talk to him.”
2. Recognising the signs
Recalling a difficult time at work, Paddy told Andy that all the signs of mental ill-health were there, but neither himself nor his workmates understood them:
“It was a cold winter’s week in South Wales. I got in from work one day, and for the rest of the week, I just stayed in bed. I didn’t want to move. Obviously, I’m not getting paid if I’m lying in bed, but I just didn’t want to go anywhere or do anything.
I was really struggling with the lads. I just wanted to be on my own and would make up excuses to go out anywhere.”
Paddy talked openly with his workmates about how he was beginning to understand what was going on.
“That’s why I’m speaking about it now. Because that helped me. So, if I can help someone else, then that’s amazing.”
The charity Mind, offers useful information on how to spot the signs of anxiety, stress and other forms of mental health problems. The signs can often be disguised.
3. Knowing your limits
Of the many coping strategies you can employ to maintain your mental wellbeing, knowing your limits is key.
“You said you wanted to be the best dad, the best friend, the best husband, and the best at your job, but unfortunately, we can’t be them all at one time.”
– Andy Willcox
“I feel like now, I’m more realistic about looking after myself. If I look after myself, it makes it easier to be a better dad, a better friend, and a better husband. If you’re putting too much pressure on yourself to be the best at every single one, you’ll fail at all of them.”
If you need help for a mental health crisis or emergency, contact your local NHS urgent mental health helpline for immediate expert advice and assessment.
If you just need to talk, any time of day or night, you can contact these services for confidential support from trained volunteers:
Samaritans: call 116 123
Shout: Text “SHOUT” to 85258