We work in an industry where stress is almost expected and attitudes to it are more blasé than they should be. So it is great to see Mental Health Awareness Week receiving so much national attention this week, and it provides an opportunity to reflect on how we approach our own and others’ mental health.

We all have mental health

As a Director with responsibility for all my staff, I have found myself dealing with related HR issues on an increasing basis as Steeldeck Rentals has grown. Occasionally these matters are straightforward, but more often than not they concern issues for which there is no easy solution.

Having suffered myself, in my early 40s, from minor panic attacks, I know that these problems can seemingly come from nowhere and occur at the most unlikely times without any obvious root cause. I was perhaps lucky that these attacks went away without any need for help or medication. I do know that I never mentioned it to a single colleague or even friends or family – my wife was the only one who was aware, though I have since told one or two people who were experiencing difficulties of their own.

When a former and much-respected colleague took his life last year, the importance of mental health and the potential consequences were brought sharply into view. He was an ex-Para and the third military veteran in 2018 to die by suicide in his district alone.

Sharing problems, sharing solutions

The charity MIND has a long list of resources that are specific to the spectrum of mental health issues and disorders. I will be sharing this link to the ‘Workplace mental health’ resource with my staff this week and letting them know that my door is always open.

The full A-Z list contains advice that helps those affected directly and via someone they know. There’s also help and guidance for employers wanting to improve mental wellbeing in their workplace.

We like to think we live in a developed society yet we understand so little about mental health.

Even in our relatively small workplace we have a huge variation in people’s life experiences. As someone who runs a business I know I have a primary duty of responsibility to the company, but I also feel a very strong duty of care to those who make the company what it is. I hope our industry follows society in becoming better at talking about and dealing with mental health.