What attracted you to working in mental health?
I have to admit that I wasn’t always interested in mental health nursing however I was never satisfied with the narrow focus of general nursing.
It really was a happy combination of circumstances that found me at the front door of St John of God Richmond Hospital. I finally discovered the sort of nursing I had always wanted to do without knowing it.
I love the holistic nature of mental health where all aspects of the person are considered. It is a real privilege to be trusted with a client’s story and journey with them in their recovery. It also helps to be working with a great team.
How do you keep yourself mentally well?
I have a healthy work life balance. It usually takes me half an hour, when I get home, to relax by reading, working around the property or playing with my dog.
My family know that after this I will be completely present for them.
I also have a number of interests outside of work. My faith is also essential to my mental health. It gives me strength, guidance and purpose.
Riding my motorbike helps a lot too.
How does your family support your health and wellbeing?
My family keeps me grounded and focused on what’s important in life.
With the arrival of two granddaughters 18 months ago I have been given the opportunity to experience the joy of toddlers again.
My family also gives me a balanced view of the world. In my work I see people at their lowest and hear some pretty awful things. My family helps me to see the good in the world and in others. To them I’m not the nurse or therapist, I’m the guy who makes pancakes on a Saturday morning and fixes (or tries to) things around the house.
How do you make healthy connections?
It is important to know what your relationship to another person is in order to develop a healthy connection.
There is a really helpful graphic I use with clients when discussing relationships that basically says that as intimacy of communication increases the number of people you are connecting with decreases.
It is not healthy to relate to everyone with the same level of emotional connection, disclosure, etc.
The other thing to remember is that relationships are living things, they need feeding and nurturing.
What tips can you give other men to stay mentally healthy?
- Men are the worst at maintaining large networks of friends as we get older. Investing time and energy into developing and nurturing relationships with friends can be vital to maintaining good mental health.
- Develop a healthy sleep pattern and stay away from electronic devices at night.
- Explore your spiritual side.
- Maintain a weight that’s healthy for you and enjoy a balanced diet. We are coming to understand more and more the important role our gut plays in our mood state so that an unhealthy diet may be affecting more than your cholesterol level.
- Try a new hobby or develop a new skill. Learning can help keep life new and interesting.
- Ask for help. Whether it’s help moving furniture, lifting pavers or a low mood that just won’t lift, men are notorious for not asking for help. The most courageous thing a man can do is pick up the phone and call for help when he needs it.