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It’s World Mental Health Day.

A moment to talk about one of the most important self-care items going: What goes on in your head.

A moment to talk to an audience that is the most likely to be affected by it and not say anything.

Men are pretty shit at this. Mostly men read this blog. So let’s have a chat about it.

It’s ok not to be ok sounds cliche, but it’s true. Mental health, no matter how many ‘wellness days’ brutal office cultures offer up, is not respected to the level it should be… still. That’s why I think it’s so powerful superstars of elite level sport are crafting a way forward for normal people. Simone Biles tapping out of some of the Olympics? If she’s ok to say no thanks, after all the shit she’s been through, then guess what… Pedro who makes tweets for a living can tap out if things are going badly.

I did a podcast last week with someone that works in a high-stress environment and they shared this little gem with me:

‘We have a rule that I have made very clear to my people. If you are having a bad day, you tell me upfront. You don’t have to talk about the details. Or you can talk about the details. But if you’re having a bad day, I want to know, because we all have them.’

I loved that. So simple. So easy to implement in any job. Beautifully disarming in a way. You don’t have to get into the details, you don’t have to pull out a chaise longue, but if everyone around you knows the deal, it can really take the steam out of some heavy things going on in your head. How many people going through some severe shit would just like to say, ‘I’m having a bad day’, and haven’t, with sad consequences? I sat next to someone at new London job, the nicest chap you’d ever met, incredibly sharp and easy going. He helped me navigate this new monster organisation I worked in. He set the tone for the culture of the office. He was beloved. One day, he just didn’t show for work. He’d never show again. Just like that, gone. I never thought to ask him how he really was, but I wonder if he’d been able to say he was having a bad day, whether things would have been different?

I actually don’t think I can remember ever having the courage to say something like that, but you know what, that’s going to be a new rule I bring to all my teams going forward. It’s a small thing, but it’s actionable, and if only one person reading this does it, then it’s a win.

Part of me wonders if some of the newfound empathy we’re seeing in football might be partly related to the tough year we’ve all had sitting in a box shut off from the world. Everyone wrestled with demons this year. We all needed something a little deeper than a Zoom happy hour. I wonder if the softening towards athletes is here to stay? They aren’t robots. They’re at work like you and me. Maybe the game is just better if we’re a bit nicer offline and online.

… as for the online bit. This is another area we can all be a little bit better and I will 100% hold my hands up here and say I need to take it easier and realise that it’s just football. Maybe we could all be kinder to people on the internet? It’s just a football opinion. It’s just a game. If you wouldn’t say it to someone in a bar, maybe you shouldn’t say it on the internet… because you never know what is going on with someone behind the keyboard. I’d say the internet is a dreadful place generally, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised how kind everyone is to me, Johnny and Matt on the Youtube videos. It’s very sweet. Same with the podcast stuff. The world is a better place when there’s a bit of kindness out there, life is a little easier, and one less thing to worry about is good for everyone.

Someone who has dealt with mental health issues is Tyson Fury. What an incredible story. I think he gave an entire paycheck to a mental health charity earlier in his career. He’s a symbol of someone dealing with his challenges head-on and coming out the other end a hero. So massive congrats to him.

Would it be wrong to cite Bukayo Saka as well? He missed a decisive penalty in a European Cup Final, he came back into club football, now he’s back scoring goals, looking extremely well. What a player. You absolutely love to see it.

Anyway, bit of a weird one from me today. It’s hard to write things like this, mental health cuts brutally close to the bone for me, so this is uncomfortable, but if it makes one person feel even 1% better about themselves, then it’s a win.

Be good to each other, check in with those you love, and set up a ‘bad day’ rule in your work team.

See you in the comments. Podcast coming later. BIG LOVE xx


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