Mike Killingbeck, Regional Service Delivery Manager for Severn Trent Services, talks about his own mental health and how he tries to support his team – that consists of 20 men – with their own ‘man health’ too.
A summer of discontent
‘A summer of discontent’. It’s a phrase that’s been used lots in the media fuelled by the cost-of-living crisis, recruitment challenges, and record-breaking temperatures.
Add to that increased absence levels as people head off on their annual holidays or take time off work to look after children – and it’s easy to see how life became stressful for some during the summer months.
It’s been no different for Mike and his team. He says: “It’s been a long, hard summer for many people in this country. My team included. That’s why I make it my personal mission to experience the blood, sweat, and tears alongside my team and make sure I’m not asking them to do anything I wouldn’t be prepared to do myself.”
Dealing with stress during stressful times
Mike’s open about his own mental health challenges in the hope that others – inside and outside the organisation – do the same.
He occasionally suffers with stress and anxiety. His son was diagnosed with Autism when he was four years old (he’s nine now) and although Mike hasn’t been diagnosed with the same medical condition, he often reflects on how he and his son share some of the same symptoms.
“I’m logical, solution-focussed, love routine, dislike small talk, and sometimes struggle to understand why people can’t see what I can see.”
Describing his stress and anxiety, Mike explains how it sometimes manifests itself at work: “I can have a discussion with somebody and perceive that it’s not gone well. The other person may have forgotten about it by teatime. But I’ll still be dwelling on it days later which can affect me.
“Or sometimes I’ll wake in the early hours of the morning feeling anxious about something that can’t be fixed at that moment, because it’s still dark!”
Mike’s learnt to cope by making sure he regularly goes for a run and organises time to socialise with friends and family at the weekend to help him to unwind.
Promoting ‘man health’ within his team
Mike has a conscious approach to leadership to help protect the mental and physical health of his team. To that end he’s organised a ‘man workshop’ this month facilitated by an external ‘man health’ practitioner.
“Most of us are at work for longer than we’re at home. So, I believe it’s my job is to provide the best working life my team can have.”
Mike’s mental health tips
When asked how Mike promotes positive mental health in the workplace, he says he tries to live and work by these personal principles and encourages others to do the same:
- Be the same person you are at work as you are at home
- Don’t retain the bad stuff and instead trust freely by expecting the very best from people
- Remember that work is secondary to health (mental or physical)
- Develop your own coping strategies, tell others about them, and practice them regularly
- Keep talking and don’t be ashamed to ask for help