Jessica Tabinor Mental Illness Awareness
INTERNATIONAL MEN'S DAY 2019 | 6 MIN READ
#InternationalMensDay celebrates positive male role models and raises awareness of men’s issues which are often overlooked.
With a focus on male wellbeing, this International Men's Day we share one of the most inspiring stories that we discovered whilst writing our Mental Health Whitepaper. Our colleague, Ben Fitzgerald shares his struggle with anxiety and how he’s working to overcome it with the help of coaching.
International Men’s Day is celebrated all over the world, every year, in November. The aim of International Men’s Day is to celebrate positive male role models and to raise awareness of men’s issues which are often overlooked. These include areas like mental health, toxic masculinity and the prevalence of male suicide.
With a focus on male wellbeing, we decided to revisit one of the most inspiring stories that we discovered whilst writing our Mental Health Whitepaper. Our colleague, Ben Fitzgerald, head of professional services at Morson shares his struggle with anxiety and how he’s working to overcome it with the help of coaching:
“I’ve battled on and off with what I now know to be anxiety since my early 20s. My default coping emotion was anger, yet it happened so infrequently that I never saw it as an issue. I was also an over-thinker, which became more apparent in my previous roles. I’ve always worked hard and been successful in my career, but I created this persona that what I did was never good enough, despite putting on a front of being happy and confident. It had gotten to the point where it was affecting my relationships and social life, and I’d also stepped away from management because I didn’t want people relying on me and me relying on others.”
Mental health is now a permanent part of the workplace, with figures from the Department of Health stating that one in four of us will experience mental illness at some point in our lives, although only around 30% seek help.
“The tipping point came last year when I went to get professional help. I’d already been to the NHS looking for support but never went back again. Who I saw there was so dismissive, saying to me that I ‘didn’t look depressed’, which didn’t help my situation in any way. I was finally in the mindset that I was doing this for reasons that were bigger than me and I knew that if I wanted things to change, then I first had to change myself.”
“I went into the sessions expecting to be coached but talking openly helped me realise that I needed to look at the positive. It also taught me to understand my triggers, to think before I speak and to walk away from situations before they get too much. Yes, I’ve had stumbling blocks, but I’ve gone from weekly sessions to monthly, to now quarterly, because I've got the right tools at my disposal to help me overcome my anxieties."
The findings in our Mental Health Whitepaper came from a survey of more than 1,400 Morson International contractors working in roles spanning professional services, construction, IT, engineering, digital and rail. Shockingly, we found that almost half (46%) of those living with a mental health condition hide it from their colleagues and employer.
Internally, we have launched our Mental Health First Aiders programme where colleagues throughout our UK office network are trained to identify, understand, and help someone who may be experiencing a mental health issue. They are based all over the country and provide emotional support and guidance to our colleagues in branch offices, onsite and at our head office in Manchester.
“I’ve flagged it to my bosses previously who I could tell some were uncomfortable, but at Morson it’s different. Everyone I’ve told has been so appreciative in me opening up and because of the family culture, it has always been genuine. For organisations who don’t support their staff with mental health, then more fool them. Being open about my own struggles has also helped others around me talk about their own personal issues. I definitely think in-house psychiatrists like the one in the TV series Billions are going to become more commonplace in business, which in my opinion, would be a major positive for the businesses and for their people.”
At Morson, we have seen an increase in the number of staff coming forward to express their own struggles with mental illness and seek support, which is a positive step in the right direction. We would also like to thank the colleagues and contractors that came forward to share their stories.