"Often the first step is the toughest"
To mark Movember and International Men’s Day and to raise awareness of men's mental and physical health, some of our male colleagues have shared how they look after their wellbeing and look out for others.
Rob Hayward is a senior social worker and approved mental health professional.
How do you look after your physical and mental wellbeing?
I see our mental and physical wellbeing as deeply connected and ever changing. For me this means regular maintenance through exercise, adventure, the outdoors, friends, family and music.
I am an avid mountain biker and think it should be prescribed for us all! It is great exercise and a challenge, a lively and supportive community, a way of exploring your local area and further afield, a jolt of adrenaline if needed or a relaxing bimble through the woods.
I’m also trying to maintain a more regular routine of mindfulness meditation (with varying success!). I find guided practices helpful - there’s a ton of apps out there.
In what ways do you look out for your male family members, friends and colleagues?
By listening out for those small comments and making more of an effort to stay in touch when I know they are going through a tough time.
How would you spot the signs that someone might not be ok?
Sometimes it’s the little changes in demeanour - being quieter than usual, a bit snappy or irritable. If something seems a bit ‘off’ it’s worth asking - usually we are glad someone cares.
What would you say to encourage your male family members, friends and colleagues to look after themselves and reach out if they need to?
There is help out there - whether it’s your physical or mental wellbeing. Often the first step is the toughest and after that people will walk the journey with you.
It may be your GP, mental health professional, nurse, physiotherapist or someone else. What they will do is help you understand your options.
Just knowing what is available and not being alone when we are struggling makes a huge difference in itself.
I’d also encourage them (and me) to take their own advice and get help earlier - it’s so common for us to fall into patterns of looking after ourselves last or not at all.
Tell us an interesting fact about you
I play bass guitar, previously in metal bands in South Wales and various metal, jazz and cover groups in Devon.