This blog doesn’t reinvent the wheel, and we aren’t experts in mental health, but we are people who can draw upon our own experiences and spells of very positive, and very negative states of our own minds. Men aged 45 - 49 still have the highest rates of suicide in the UK. From 2018 to 2019, this rate increased. So we asked our three male co-founders, all at different stages of their life, how their own experiences have shaped them, and what they do to try and stay positive, happy and healthy both physically and mentally.
Chris, CEO -
“Like many of my generation, mental health wasn’t really on the agenda growing up. I was kind of taught at home (and certainly at school) that the answer to the question “How are you?” was always “Fine.” So I guess I came to really think about and understand mental health much later on, which was down to being educated by two outstanding social campaigns that stuck with me, “Ask Twice” and “It’s Okay Not To Be Okay”, and I was hugely affected by losing a school friend and football teammate to depression aged 40. The fact that suicide is the leading cause of death for men of my age is terrifying.
I’m still not amazing at talking about my feelings. It feels really awkward to me, but it is something I am working on and it feels less awkward the more I do it. I realise that particularly as a father of four and employer, the more open I am the more likely others are to be open with me. I try to spend as much time as possible outdoors. I’m not sure I’ve really considered this managing my mental health, it just makes me feel better. We’re blessed to have the Northumberland coast on our doorstep. I find that fresh air and a sense of space helps me to feel energised. If I can get my trainers on a couple of times a week for a 5k run and regularly get a solid seven or eight hours sleep I am in a much better state of mind to run and grow a business.”
Rob, CTO -
“In the past, I found that periods of overworking sometimes led me into prolonged bouts of high stress that had detrimental knock-on effects. Not only would I become ineffective at the work I was already ‘overworking’ on but the cloudy, anxiety-laden brain that resulted from these stressful periods could create an uneasy - and often very unpleasant - general experience day to day. For me, a mindfulness meditation practice made a big difference in alleviating these occurrences as well as good sleep, regular physical exercise and occasionally some strict ‘no work allowed’ downtime.”
Mike, COO -
“Know when to switch off, remember it's a marathon, not a sprint. Try not to treat burning the candle at both ends as the norm, yes every now and then things get tough, you're 100 mph and putting in crazy hours. But, you have to figure out a way to mitigate that, your company or career is never going to succeed if you're mentally fried.
For me, exercise is a massive part of switching off. I need that separation from work to home life and getting in a good workout does exactly that.”
This year, #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek is focused on nature, and how that can help ground us and support our mental wellbeing. Top tips on connecting with nature can be found here.
If you, or someone you know is struggling, then reach out for help.
Here you can find a variety of resources on looking after your mental health: