Mental Health Awareness Week will help to cast a spotlight on an important issue, says Anne Timpany, Director of On Tap Plumbers.
Having grown up and worked in male-dominated environments, I have always been very aware that mental health is a common issue that men rarely speak about or deal with.
I grew up on the south island of New Zealand, where men and boys looked up to the Speight’s Southern Man as the way they should lead their lives, which basically meant that you act tough, get on with it, and don’t talk about your emotions because you will get teased.
This attitude, certainly not confined to New Zealand, led to young men hiding their feelings to the point that, in some cases, it became a life and death situation. I knew three young men in my hometown who committed suicide in their teenage years, which had a huge impact on our small community and my family.
I grew up with three brothers, and I now have three young boys, plus a team of more than 50 male plumbers working for me. The state of their mental health is very important to me, as I’ve experienced first-hand the consequences of the actions of men who didn’t know how to deal with their emotions and took drastic measures.
The statistics in the UK are scary – suicide is now the leading cause of death in men between 15 and 49, according to mental health charity Mates in Mind.
This year, the Mental Health Foundation’s Mental Health Awareness Week (14-20 May) is focusing on stress. Over years of working with plumbers, I have witnessed high levels of stress, which most men don’t know how to deal with.
These stress levels can lead to:
If people were better at recognising and dealing with these signs in themselves, or their workers, there would be an overwhelming improvement in productivity, safety, employee retention and job satisfaction, as well as personal contentment.
Our supervisors and managers experience highly stressful situations on a frequent basis on construction sites, and we address this to help our team learn techniques to deal with these situations. An amazingly helpful organisation, Mates in Mind, works closely with the British Safety Council, the Construction Leadership Group, and charities such as Mind.
In order to develop a high performance way of working, it’s not just your ability to physically carry out the work which matters, it’s the mindset and motivation that pushes you to do the best job you can. There is support out there for you, and if you need help it’s vitally important that you contact organisations such as Mates in Mind, who will understand what you are going through and can help you to deal with it.
To learn more about Mates in Mind, please visit www.matesinmind.org.