In the second of our pieces for Men's Health Week that break down barriers around mental health, Construction Director Sean Curran talks about his changing approach to mental wellbeing and what he does to stay mentally fit.

What does good mental health mean to you?

Mental health has been a subject that for years I thought was only for others and not myself, as “it doesn’t affect me”. Having had a lot of tough moments in life, such as losing parents and close friends, I have a tendency to try and avoid such conversations and just “crack on”, quite an old fashioned approach, however one that I believe most of us, especially men share.

I believe for men, certainly for me, saying you’re not ok feels like failure or a weakness. For me that is not something I could easily accept, so regardless of the tough moments, I would just shrug it off and keep going.

Only recently have I started to understand the importance of saying “I’m not ok”. Following the first lockdown my daughter had a panic attack whilst simply walking home from the shops with her mum. Over the following weeks, and subsequent second lock down, she became worse and would not even leave the house for fear of something happening to her. She had become so used to having walls around her that she just couldn’t bring herself to step outside. Each day is a new challenge, we encourage our daughter to discuss her feelings every day, and to take another step forward, no matter how small, whilst also letting her know that “it’s ok, not to be ok”.

Having seen how this can affect a person, especially one so young, has opened my eyes to the importance of understanding it, how to deal with it, and also take action to prevent it. Mental health affects our whole being, how we think, feel and act, we can do so much to look after it. Regardless of how strong you think you are, no matter what age, race or religion, it affects us all and we are not immune to it!

What do you do to stay on top of things?

For myself, it’s a work in progress, as I do still have a tendency to just keep going, however I’m now fully aware of the impact of mental health and it is now more front and centre than ever before. I now send that message to friends more often, just to say “Hey”. I try to get into the gym for a training or boxing session three to four times a week, as for me it really helps my mental wellbeing, just taking your mind elsewhere for an hour really helps.

A walk at lunch time to break up the day is something I have started to do when working at home, it gives you a break from the screen and I believe you’re more productive, even a 15 minute walk will have a big impact on your day… Lycra required, so we have no excuses, get out there!

Finally, talking is so important. If I have a rough day or have something on my mind, I will talk to people around me, be it friends, family or colleagues. Talking about your feelings has to be a key part of mental health for me, it`s also remembering those around us. We are all so busy in this crazy world that we forget those closest to us. Take the time to pick up the phone, or send a message to friends, family and colleagues……it takes seconds, and just may be the thing that person needs.

We are all in this together, and together we are stronger.