Speaking up on mental health

Mental health

Earlier this year, Andrew Crymble spent seven days with a 3kg medicine ball chained to his wrist.

The Belfast-based funeral director went about his business as usual, meeting friends and family, colleagues, and clients. Naturally, the medicine ball prompted lots of conversation, and that’s exactly what Andrew was after.

As he outlined in the recent Partnership Podcast from Golden Charter, Andrew is passionate about raising a specific topic. The medicine ball challenge is organised by ABF, The Soldiers’ Charity. It’s designed to help people speak up and speak freely about mental health.

In the podcast Andrew discusses the pressures that funeral directors face and describes his own experience in facing up to mental health issues.

“For me, this is so important,” said Andrew. “Lots of us, particularly men, don’t talk about our feelings and are scared to share. It gave me the opportunity to open up conversations and the added bonus of raising money for this amazing charity.

“At some point in our lives we are all affected, we just don’t acknowledge it. I suffered for several years with various mental health issues, which eventually came to a head. At that point I sought the help I needed. Most of that came through charities and self-funding.”

Andrew believes funeral directors put on a brave face every day of their lives. They carry their problems into work, but when they go to someone’s house, they put them to one side. “I’d say to any funeral director, male or female, if things are difficult, go back to your line manager and speak with them.

“If you’re a business owner, put something in place for your employees, ask them how they are and show genuine care. It’s important to be clear and transparent. Ask them, ‘How do you feel?’ It’s easy for people to respond, ‘Yeah, fine. Everything’s good.’ But there are lots of times when things aren’t good. It’s vital to be honest with ourselves and with people around us.”

Andrew recommends random acts of kindness for colleagues, and he’s helping set up a local branch of Andy’s Man Club. “The ‘Andy’ isn’t me. It’s an established UK club, a talk shop for men on Monday nights between 7pm and 9pm. There are other charities, such as The Samaritans, who I spoke to on many occasions.

“But the key thing is, if you think someone is struggling, ask them. Be direct, be honest, and be consistent – always follow up on your promise to help.”

Listen to Andrew’s Partnership Podcast here.

Andrew Crymble has been involved in the funeral profession since the age of 18, working on a part-time basis for James Brown and Sons, James Elwood and Sons and in the family business, David Crymble and Sons.

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