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Meet Our People: Mark Tolley, Architect & Mental Health First Aider

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By Debbie Kyrkili – 9th October 2022

On this World Mental Health Day, the 2022 theme is to ‘Make mental health and wellbeing for all a global priority’. As an organisation, we are prioritising good mental health practices throughout our teams and finding ways of empowering them to help others, and themselves, look after their mental health.

At Corstorphine & Wright, we have a dedicated team of Mental Health First Aiders who are specially trained to offer support and guidance. One of the team, Mark Tolley, has shared with us what it means to be a Mental Health First Aider, how he protects his own mental health and where to find support.

“My name is Mark, I’m an Architect based in Birmingham. I’ve been part of the Corstorphine & Wright team for 4 and a half years. I currently work on a number of projects which are mostly within the residential sector.

Like most people, I have seen the devastating effects poor mental health can have on a person. I’ve always empathised with the hardship people face and wanted to learn necessary skills to help where I can. In 2021, when the opportunity to receive this training came up, I jumped at the chance. I’ve been fortunate enough to use the skills I developed to support people and friends inside and outside of work.

The Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) team are here to offer support and guidance for anyone within the practice who may be experiencing poor mental health. We are trained to listen, empathise, and formulate a strategy in and out of work to help build a healthier and happier self. The team have completed extensive training and have access to resources to help our colleagues seek professional help when necessary. Part of our role is building awareness and emphasising that mental health is something everyone experiences along with providing an opportunity to speak freely and openly without stigma or judgement.

I learnt during Covid that my mental health heavily relies on travelling and exploring with friends and family. I realised staying in a house for weeks / months on end was detrimental to my mental health and thankfully, in 2022, we’ve been lucky enough to start exploring again! However, there are smaller and less costly strategies I’ve incorporated in recent years, I have found reading and yoga to be very peaceful and a way to escape from everyday anxieties and stress.

Even without formal certification, I encourage everyone to recognise common signs someone may be experiencing poor mental health. This could include a withdrawn attitude or sudden behavioural changes. But from my experience, especially in a professional environment, people are very good at masking their emotions. We encourage everyone to open up at the earliest opportunity.

Support is readily available both inside and outside of work. There are charities all over the country, famous ones being Mind, Mental Health Foundation and Samaritans. These charities offer support from depression, bereavement, and knowledge in conditions such as addiction and schizophrenia. We also encourage you to make a GP appointment if you believe your mental health has drastically deteriorated, your GP can tailor a solution to your needs.”

You can call Samaritans for free, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year on 0116 123 or text ‘SHOUT’ to 85258 for an anonymous conversation over text.

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