Behind the Bricks – How our men keep fit & well

June is Men’s Health Month but this year, from the 13th-19th it’s been Men’s Health Week where we’re encouraged as a nation to focus our attention even harder on breaking the stigma around male mental health by promoting a more positive and open culture when men feel empowered to address the challenges they faced. This week we want to dedicate our blog to raising awareness for Men’s Health Week, providing tips and insights into how our men at the RE:GEN Group work hard to keep physically and mentally well in such high pressure environments.

So first, what is Mental Health?

Just in the same way that we all have physical health, we all have mental health, and we need to look after it. Mental health is a somewhat broad term which encompasses our emotional and psychological well-being. This determines how well we can operate in our day-to-day lives, how we cope with our everyday challenges and how we relate to the world around us. Bad mental health can affect every aspect of your life. Your work, your relationships and your physical well-being can be put under immense strain if you’re suffering and not addressing your psychological issues correctly.

Why is Mental Health such an issue for men?

Of course, mental health is not just an issue for men, women are just as likely to experience mental health problems. However, the statistics continue to rise at an alarmingly rate with men very much in the centre. According to latest statistics:

  • In England, one in eight men has a common mental health problem such as depression, anxiety, panic disorder or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
  • Men are also less likely to access psychological therapies than women: with only 36% of referrals to NHS talking therapies are for men
  • As a result, three times as many men as women die by suicide.

There are several possible reasons for this gender split. It could be related to the societal pressures placed on men to be what is perceived as masculine. The phrase “man-up” is a common example of this attitude towards men’s mental health, as it suggests men shouldn’t discuss their emotions or reach out for help. A stigma we firmly want to break within our workplace culture!

Couple that with the high intensity and stressful environments of the Construction sector and the need for positive mental health practices couldn’t be more important! And whilst Construction has always been a high-risk sector, the mental health challenges that come with it have only been acknowledged more recently.

Although we are working hard to challenge the norm at within the Group, Construction is still a relatively male-dominated industry, making the need even greater for us to work together to step up and support our friends, co-workers, partners and supply chain in being able to find a safe space to talk about anything that may be impacting their day to day.

What’s more, men report lower levels of life satisfaction than women according to a recent governmental survey, so doing everything we can to support our peers in those eight, or maybe even 12 hours a day that we are together becomes even more crucial because let’s face it, we spend more time at work than anywhere else!

One of the main goals of Men’s Health Week is, “to increase the physical and mental health of men so that they can live fuller and happier lives”. So, in the spirit of doing just that and supporting the amazing men around us, we decided to catch up with some of the guys at RE:GEN & RE:geon this week, from the CEO right down our new starting apprentices to find out what they do to stay physically and mentally well when faced with daily adversities.

We hope that their insights, tips and daily practices inspire others. Providing much needed reassurance that no matter what role you have within a business, be it a senior or entry level position, the need to work on your physical and mental health is exactly the same, and must be a constant process to keep it on track. But, with the right techniques and routines in place, you CAN and you WILL overcome anything!

Here’s what they had to say:

Lee Francis – CEO at RE:GEN Group and Chairman for RE:geon Training

  • For me personally, there is things I do both in and out of work to de-stress and control my anxiety levels. In work, I focus on the issue in hand. Many people are worried about things that haven’t happened yet. My view is ‘let’s sort out the issue in front of us and then see what happens’.Don’t worry about something that hasn’t or may not happen
  • Outside of work, I enjoy a range of different sport to help me switch off. From Judo and BJJ to running and cycling, I like to get involved in anything that gives my head a rest (but challenges my body!)

Brinsley Sheridan – Partnership Director at RE:GEN Group & Commercial Director at RE:geon Training

  • To help keep on top of my mental health, I like to organise my day into manageable chunks and try where possible to vary the tasks between the more stressful, the more mundane and the most interesting projects.
  • I work hard to create balance within my life and therefore I ensure I spend quality time with my family, trying as best as I can to switch off from the day and enjoy being present with the people I love the most.
  • I always have something to look forward to outside of work whether that be a holiday or a family event or even just a meal out with friends. I try and have something at least every 6-8 weeks as this helps to keep me focused and is seen as a reward for the hard work.
  • I’m happy to accept the things that I cannot change and only worry about the ones that are within my control. In the past I have stressed about everything even though I cannot do anything about some elements! I understand that I’m not always perfect and I do make mistakes. We are only human after all. But I make a conscious effort to learn from any mistakes, put it behind me and move forward.
  • Journaling is something new that I have recently started to do. I have notepad at the side of the bed so whenever I’m overthinking things through the night, I can note things down to put my mind at ease, knowing I won’t forget them in the morning. I find it helps me get back to sleep and sleep better.
  • Communication both inside and outside of work is also really important to me. Talking and being open to challenges eases any mental stresses I have. Gill Main, our Leadership, Life & Wellness Coach is great for that but we have some many people in the business who are only a phone call away whenever anyone needs them.

Paul Flannigan – CSR Director at RE:GEN Group

  • I find that the best way to overcome any stresses and challenges I face, be it in work or outside of work is through the power of exercise.
  • I work hard to remain disciplined with my training routine, setting myself the target of using the “RE:GYM” or my Peloton Bike at least five times a week.
  • Five tends to be my lucky number when it comes to my health as I also ensure that I eat at least five pieces of fruit every single day as I always feel better when I eat well.
  • Creating balance between work and homelife is so important, and when I’m not at work I like to spend quality time with my kids. When I’m with them, nothing else matters.

Tom Lamb – Head of Strategy at RE:GEN Group & Strategy Director for RE:geon Training

  • For me, it’s about eating the right foods and exercising!
  • Keeping a routine helps, but so does breaking the routine, like booking in a holiday or to celebrate a special occasion with family and friends.
  • I have recently invested in a massage gun (Theragun), which I use religiously every day. I find this is great for relaxation.

Martin Waller – Head of Quality & Curriculum for RE:geon Training

  • I find that creating a balance of good physical and mental health is the real key to success.
  • I discovered this nearly five years ago, quite literally by chance, after suffering with a bad back for almost eight years prior.
  • To aid in my back recovery, I joined my local spa. It had a 25-meter pool and the primary goal was just to swim and build up my core but soon I discovered the sauna and ever since I’ve developed a little addiction.
  • Using the sauna comes with many health benefits and it’s become my daily release. I swim once, sometimes twice a day and also do 15/20 minutes in the sauna. Sometimes I go there chewed to bits with the pressure of the day and somehow it totally disappears and I come back feeling clean, fit, healthy and with such a clear mind to tackle what the following day brings.
  • I would be lost without it now and while I started going there for the physical side of things, I didn’t realise the mental health benefits that can be gained from it too.

Joseph Bambrough – Apprentice Quantity Surveyor at RE:GEN Group

  • Despite being in the job only two weeks, I find that the best way to de-stress after work is to go to the gym and exercise. It helps clear your head and keeps you fit at the same time, so it’s the perfect win-win.
  • I try to incorporate this into my routine regularly so that I can relax on an evening when I get home and feel refreshed for the following day.

For people to feel more comfortable addressing their physical or mental health issues, one of the most powerful motivators is having role models. If leaders and colleagues can share their own experiences, this can lessen the perceived stigma and encourage others to talk about the challenges they face. Having spoken to just a small cross section of men within the RE:GEN Group & RE:geon Training, it’s easy to see that from the bottom-up, there is clear alignment on the need to actively work on your physical and mental health as a daily practice. And that a combination of exercise, eating well and spending time with those we love are what matter most in life.

As a Group, we hold a great deal of responsibility for the cultivation of a positive workplace culture. A report by the Chartered Institute of Building found that 56% of construction professionals work for organisations with no workplace mental health policies. Something which is incredibly alarming and a statistic we want to challenge head on! What’s more, research also shows that men are more likely to seek support from a partner or friend than verbalise their worries to a line manager as they’re concerned it may have an impact on their career.

We are proud to be working with Gill Main, Leadership, Lifestyle & Wellness Coach who is actively engaging in helping us to “RE:DEFINE” Wellness in the workplace – for our existing workforce as well as the learners we are in the process of training. With Gill’s help we have taken many actions in the pursuit of nurturing these individuals. Most recently through the launch of the RE:GEN People Engagement Process (RE:PEP). The RE:PEP is a powerful tool which flips the appraisal process quite literally on its head, enabling us to break down any barriers between managers and their teams – ensuring openness of communication at all times and fluid approach to information sharing.

If you’d like to find out more about how we are working to “RE:DEFINE” Wellness in the workplace or if you’d simply like to talk then please reach out to us. We are always here for you. That’s why we’re called the ‘RE:GEN Family’ 😁