Why Chris is there #forthefour

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While one in four of us will have a mental health problem at some point in our lifetime, all of us will experience some sort of setback or difficult life event.

Chris spoke to us about his experiences and why he believes it’s so important to be there #forthefour.  

“I am passionate about wellbeing for myself, my family, friends, and all of my colleagues as I believe we have all struggled at some point in our lives. Knowing that someone is there who can offer a listening ear and some empathy is reassuring.

“From my perspective as a guy, and some would say of larger stature than others, I always felt I had to hold a mask up and portray everything was fine, that I'm happy, I'm healthy and strong.

“It was a mask that I felt forced to wear, an expectation that I believed I needed to uphold... It took a huge life event for me to realise I don't have to keep holding the mask up, in all honesty I no longer had the strength to...”

Many people feel like Chris. Our friends and colleagues don’t always know how we really feel. That’s why it’s so important to be there for the people around you, even when they seem ‘happy, healthy and strong'.

“During 2005 for want of a better phrase, I cracked. My strength had gone, my smile slipped, and I felt like my life was worthless...

“I was a fairly new father, had a great secure job, earning a nice salary, and had bucket loads of friends I would socialise with. Yet I felt I had nothing... Anyway, not to dwell, this was the lowest point in my life but also the most rewarding and insightful too!

“I guess I realised then it's ok to not be ok...

“There were people just like me, along with those who were there to help and support me. I spent some time within the Priory along with a supportive aftercare programme, and from then I began to learn, began to flourish, and began to appreciate me, who I was and what I had in my life... 

“Fast forward to now, I have experienced redundancy during 2009 from a long-term job and I coped. My mother passed away in 2010, and I got through it.

“I have raised two teenage sons now 16 and 18, who I believe understand its ok to say when they need help and to value what they have.

“Since losing my job in 2009, I have been blessed to have worked in the education, construction, digital and now retail and hospitality industries.  

“Each of these roles has enabled me to adapt easily for the next challenge and to not be scared to look and work outside my comfort zone. Equally, I am happy to ask for help when needed and challenge others appropriately. 

“Most of all I have made some amazing friends and connections with so many people of different backgrounds, with different experiences.

“For me, I realise that no matter what you do, where you are from, how physically strong you may look, we are all the same.

“We can all learn from each other.

“By sharing praise and recognition to someone who has achieved, worked well, or just been at work on time every day, saying ‘well done’ and ‘thanks’ goes a long way for their own personal wellbeing. 

“By being inclusive and ensuring everyone has a voice is important to me. The little things such as inviting a colleague to grab a coffee during the workday just for a chat if they look overwhelmed or quieter than normal. Going for a drink after work and offering personal time to others, in a relaxed environment. 

“Nowadays it's checking on someone who no longer has the camera switched on whilst in the video call, why they remain on mute during calls. Without calling them out of course, but by inviting them to share their comments and switch on the camera on without being judged. 

“We have had to adapt to this new normal at the moment. Encouraging others to share their experiences and their passions helps."

The situation we find ourselves in at the moment makes it more important than ever to check on your friends and colleagues. Looking after the wellbeing of the industry starts with the person sitting next to you or on the phone.

That’s why at retailTRUST we’re here #forthefour in four people, whenever they need us. To find out more about our services or access support visit myrtwellbeing.org.uk

“Give everyone a voice and support their confidence."

Find out more about our campaign and event to be there #forthefour at retailtrust.org.uk/four