13 August 2018 CEO Blog post

I've just had the most amazing conversation


It happened by chance. It was a colleague of mine who popped in to ask me to sign a form (an amazingly regular but unfulfilling part of being a Chief Executive). Mundane work on a normal Monday.  As the person was about to leave I said “How are you?”

Five minutes later we ended up having a hug. We both had tears in our eyes.

You see we are both experiencing family issues with mental health. We both have loved ones who are down or anxious. We both have had the ‘pull yourself together’ thoughts. We have both realised we are the kind of people who are better at dealing with physical illness. It’s what we know. We can see it, we can appreciate it, and we can empathise with it.

In those five minutes we chatted about guilt. Being too dismissive of the pain our loved ones were experiencing at first of it. Just putting up with their moods and their behaviour.  Thinking they will snap out of it. Trying to work out how to help but not getting it right.

We chatted about our coping mechanisms, whether it be reading about it or taking care of ourselves with long walks, painting walls or burying ourselves in work.

A consistent theme in patient stories at Trust Board in the last two-plus years has been the link between mental health and physical health. We have heard from patients with bone cancer, spinal cord injury and even patients who can’t work because of MS- related pain. It’s all around us, everywhere.

Then there are our staff. We have staff who are off with ‘stress-related’ issues – sometimes work, sometimes home and sometimes both. Then there are our staff supporting others at home with mental illness. I also know we have staff who are in work but struggling.

I realised that today I might be one of those people. In work but struggling. The person who came to see me didn’t know. They thought we were talking about my family and their family. But maybe today we were talking about me. Mental health affects us all but men are particularly bad at recognising it. Men like me.



Mark Brandreth
Chief Executive


Image of Mark Brandreth, Chief Executive

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