Being able to talk openly about mental health in the building industry is important.
Hear from our Self Care Mentor Kurt from TIACS
In this blog we are sharing a preview from one of our mentor sessions inside ELEVATE with our Self Care Mentor, Kurt Everard from TIACS [This Is A Conversation Starter].
Watch this preview now, and learn more about mental health strategies for builders, or read the transcript below
Something that I see a lot of the time in my day to day work is that individuals are engaging for the first time in this context, which is great.
Obviously, when I’m talking to someone, they’re saying it was my first time speaking in this context, I’m glad. I’m glad that we’re having that opportunity to speak now, because this person may never have had that opportunity to speak in a kind of a safe and comfortable environment. So, that’s a great thing.
From Little Things, Big Things Grow
A lot of these people who are noticing that they’re struggling, they can’t necessarily pinpoint specific things that are going on. They just notice themselves, they’re just not feeling themselves. So that’s great. That’s some good initial awareness. And I think that knowing that something’s wrong is really great.
With our service and mental health being less stigmatised there are more people who are willing to reach out for a bit of support.
We can build on some of these early things. A lot of people will say that they sort of don’t know what’s happening, or they can’t really pinpoint something, but they’re feeling a little bit off. Generally, they do know, and it’s just about having that conversation.
I guess the point that I’m making out of this is that when we are struggling, the most important thing is to reach out, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be really big things. Now it could be relationship trouble, or it could be some anxiety, or some stress.
But it might just be a buildup of little things. And certainly, it’s not a requirement that you need to have this big thing that’s happened in your life. It’s more often a combination of things. Like it might be going through a bit of a transition at work. There might be a bit of stress just at home, and these things combined, unfortunately, can put us into a pretty difficult space.
Certainly, that’s what we’re here for at TIACS. We’re here to be that person on the other end, to lend that ear, to provide that opportunity to just let some of that load off. We can walk around with this big weight on our shoulders, especially if we’re sort of holding everything in. And even just the simple act of speaking about it is a way to ease that weight and allow us to be able to function a bit more.
Taking The First Step
Kurt, do you find that people are calling you and almost apologising, because they don’t feel that they’re dealing with anything too big, but they just know that things aren’t right, and they’re not sleeping well on that kind of stuff? And they’re almost saying, “oh look, I’m not quite sure why I’m calling you”.
It’s not like it’s a really big drama. But still things aren’t ‘tickety boo’, so just having that conversation to give them permission. That it’s still worth acknowledging it’s a pathway to being able to deal with it before it becomes a really big thing.
Exactly. And that’s, that’s generally exactly how I’ll approach a situation.
So a lot of people will say, “oh, there’s people out there that need it more”, or “this isn’t a big deal”.
And I’ll say, look, comparing ourselves to others, there’s always going to be someone worse off. Look at yourself and if you’re struggling, I’m here.
It’s such a hard thing to call up
And I often say to people that making that first step, and actually calling up someone like myself, could actually be the hardest step in the whole process. And I think that a lot of people really can resonate with that, because I’m often met with “yeah, it was really, really hard” to make that initial call, especially for someone who hasn’t engaged in this process before.
This process of engaging in mental health support is something that I think people are open to, and they want to do it, but there’s a lot of uncertainty with what that entails. And I think that really, the biggest thing is that you want to have that sort of connection. To feel comfortable with someone talking.
So for me, I want to make it as comfortable a place as I can. And certainly, I’m not going to be able to do that 100% of the time, but it’s pretty difficult to allow someone to open up if they’re not feeling overly comfortable in that space.
My Problems Aren’t That Bad … Or Are They?
A lot of people I’d say almost every day or every second day, I have someone who says, “look, I’m sure there’s someone worse off” or “I don’t think I’ve got that big of a problem”. But I often say to them, if you feel off, you’ve called, let’s go with it.
I think we can play the ‘comparison Olympics’. I reckon it’s a really human thing to do that to just actually belittle your problems because, as you said, you can always find somebody who’s worse off and you can feel like you’re making mountains out of molehills. Everybody’s hardship is their own hardship. And everybody has different responses to trauma and stress and those kinds of things. So it’s not the ‘comparison Olympics’ at all.
I think you hit it on the head there. Everyone lives a different life and has different experiences throughout their life. Me comparing myself to anyone here. We’ve all lived extremely individual existences. And for me to compare the position that I’m in to anyone here is a disservice to myself, essentially.
I think that it’s really easy for me to say that now. But I think a lot of people do experience that. It’s that comparing, and certainly I think, conversely, it’s important to remind ourselves of that fact that we are a very, very unique individual. And of course, we have similarities with others, but our upbringing, where we are, and who we are, and how we got to this point, is obviously an extremely individual thing.
Starting the Conversation
I’m glad social media wasn’t huge when I had all my problems. Probably from 2008, 2012 around then. And I think it can be very hard for builders, or for everyone.
People come to us to build their homes. We often get into it from a tradie background, and then the business just keeps growing and growing. And then it just builds, and builds, and builds. You’re taking on more contracts. You’re dealing with more money, and the stress just keeps growing and growing. And I know back when I was dealing with a lot of stuff I just felt that I’d let everybody down so much because I was a great builder, I could build a good product, but the business side of things was just an absolute sh*t show. On face value everyone thought we were killing it.
It was that pressure that just kept building and building and building on me. And like I said, even back in the day, if TIACS had been around, I don’t know if I would have had the guts to make the phone call. So it’s hard to put your hand up I think sometimes.
One thing I’ve really learned over the last 10 years is that we’re all dealing with the same thing. And having the conversation is incredibly powerful. Conversations are what ultimately got me to where I am now.
And that’s the end of this preview of one of our ELEVATE mentor sessions, with Kurt Everard, our Self Care Mentor.
Want more on this topic?
Check out The Importance of Self Care for Builders
If you want to learn more about the great work of TIACS and how they came about, you can check them out here: https://www.tiacs.org/
For the full mentor session, plus loads more help and resources to help you have a successful and thriving building business, head to our group mastermind and coaching program, ELEVATE to join up. We know that being a member provides you with the support and accountability you need to improve your projects, business and life.