Breaking the Silence: RSK talks men’s mental health with David Beeney
Although Mental Health Awareness Week is drawing to a close, the battle with mental health issues continues for so many. Released today, RSK’s mental health awareness podcast aims to raise awareness of men’s mental health, so that it becomes a normal topic of conversation, not just this week, but every day going forwards. In the recording, RSK Human Resources Director Zoe Brunswick tackles the taboo with David Beeney, creator of Breaking the Silence and Iain Foster, Geotechnical Engineer with RSK company Structural Soils.
As David points out, the stark reality is that a huge number of men are fighting serious mental health challenges: “Nearly 8 out of 10 suicides are male. The leading cause of death for men under 50 is suicide. More than cancer. More than road traffic accidents.” And even worse, they are suffering silently, alone.
Iain admits that one reason for this is that there is still a perceived stigma associated with men speaking out about their mental health: “People need to open up, but then everyone else needs to be accepting.”
However, things are changing. “Mental health is no longer perceived as weakness,” David says. “You will inspire people by sharing vulnerability… One of the things we’ve got to do is really help men to understand it’s no longer weak to admit when you’re having challenges with your mental wellbeing and, if you can talk about it, you give other people permission to talk about it too.”
Gradually, as we talk more about our own mental health challenges and normalise these discussions, things will change and there is already evidence of that in the workplace. “The younger generation are much more in touch with their emotions,” says Iain. “They’re a lot more open with how they’re feeling.”
Zoe, David and Iain go on to discuss how we can support one another, especially through the challenging times we are currently facing. One thing we can all do is listen, and just by doing that and by being available to talk to, should someone need that support, we can begin to identify when friends, family and colleagues are struggling. But how exactly do we know when someone is finding things difficult? “Any change in normal behaviour could be a sign that someone is struggling,” says David. The challenge is then how we offer support. “The danger is, when you try and interpret behaviour, it’s very easy to make someone feel judged,” continues David. “But when you’re noticing and it’s factual, you’re on much safer ground. It’s about noticing and not interpreting”.
David concludes by explaining that we must not only be kinder to each other, but even more importantly, we must be kind to ourselves.
You can listen to the podcast in full below: