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Martin Coyd: Mental Health and Me

Thursday 11 October 2018

Martin Coyd discusses how he has become increasingly aware of mental health issues within the working environment.

Martin Coyd

Martin Coyd

Martin Coyd is Head of Health, Safety & Wellbeing at Mace Construction.

Martin has a wealth of experience and has a huge passion for Health and Wellbeing and has a leading role in the UK's Building Mental Health Framework.

My own personal awakening around mental health followed the suicide of Terry Newton, international Rugby League player, on 26 September 2010. Whilst the initial reaction was shock, this was quickly followed by surprise where other leading players in this most gladiatorial of sports put their hand up, sharing the burden they carried.

State of Mind, a mental health programme for sport, was born and a rapid awakening of the whole game to the hidden crisis began. This coincided with other sectors, especially in the City of London and more slowly in Construction, the sector in which I work.

We had no idea of the scale, at first. It is now recognised that Construction is the highest risk sector, with the highest number of suicides and one where it is difficult to reach people due to our fragmented structures.

In my experience, organisations are keen to engage, to learn, to provide support. Managers, once fearful of taking those first steps into awareness, are now ready to make a contribution.

The real differentiator will be education and raising awareness of what we can all do for ourselves to improve and maintain our own mental health. This is highlighted in the new Acas 'Framework for Positive Mental Health at Work'.

Confronting it, recognising our vulnerabilities and the massive step of talking about how we feel is the first step. My experience is that most are simply waiting for permission and an opportunity to engage with others. Leaders have a huge part to play. By 'leader', I do not necessarily mean the boss. It is those with influence over the group, those who set the tone, lead the culture.

If the leaders begin to talk about how they feel, we can begin to normalise mental health in the way that physical health is just there.Removing the fear of stigma and discrimination will take time, but the only way is to prove that bad things don't happen.

I now recognise that it takes a huge amount of courage and inner strength to 'come out' and show ones apparent vulnerability. Once this step is taken, the next ones become easier.

We must create a balance in the responsibility, a shared responsibility where the organisation creates a platform and safe environment, led by enlightened, educated and responsible managers who enable people to be at their best, signposting people to help when needed and encouraging everyone to set themselves up to thrive.

None of us should wait for someone to come along and do our own mental health action plan for us. We should not be waiting for an initiative or activity which will improve how we feel. We are all absolutely unique and must try multiple ways of promoting good mental health.

We have much to learn, and need to adopt a mind-set of trying anything and everything. Self-discipline is key, recognising our own stress signature and diligently applying our own routines, pro-active and reactive, to ensure we take responsibility for looking after ourselves.

If we all work together, as individuals and in our teams, we can change the world.


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