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Let’s keep talking about mental health

Blog posted by: Matt Dolman, Senior Communications Manager, GCS Flex Team, 30 November 2020.

Mental health first aider Matt Dolman talks about why he prioritises resilience and mental health, and the importance of honest conversations.

Matt Dolman, mental health first aider.

Matt Dolman, Senior Communications Manager, GCS Flex Team

Lots of people can be wary talking about resilience. It’s a tough subject for many of us. We can feel awkward, even ashamed, to talk about our mental health, or to say that we need help.

The thing is, this is life and death. My dad took his own life when I was a kid.

That might seem awful, and it was, but it’s always served to remind me that we all have mental health, the same as we have physical health. I really believe in the need to make time to look out for ourselves and each other.

Mental health and wellbeing sessions

Coronavirus (COVID-19) has made us reexamine what makes us feel well. I run mental health and wellbeing sessions for communicators across the Government Communication Service (GCS).

A thing which comes up a lot is how COVID-19 has changed the way people think about their own resilience. They’re noticing things which make them feel well, in a way that they may not have done before, such as seeing their friends or talking to their Mum. And they’re gaining a deeper understanding of what makes them feel mentally unwell.

I remember one man, recently, who said it was difficult for him to talk about his mental health, because he is from a generation where men were encouraged to keep things bottled up. This struck me, because this person was only about ten years older than I am now, and not that much younger than my Dad was.

That’s why Movember is so important to me. Men die on average six years earlier than women, often for largely preventable reasons. According to Samaritans UK, men are around three times more likely to take their own lives than women in the UK.

Communicators need to look out for each other too

As communicators, we are often at the forefront on serious issues, supporting others through times of crisis and on topics of real concern. That’s why it is so important that we ourselves keep talking.

I think the most important thing to remember is that it’s always OK to call, text or write an email to say you’re having a tough day, or ask after someone else – not just once, but twice. Ask them once to get the pleasantries out of the way, then ask them again, “So, really, how have you been doing?”.

I also think it’s important for us as communicators to be involved in designing support mechanisms that work for us. That’s why we’re setting up a GCS wellbeing group for communications professionals. We want to complement departments’ existing wellbeing offers with bespoke support for communications professionals, from training and events to tips and resources

We’re looking for volunteers to help us steer this work – if you’re interested in joining us, please email

And of course, if you can donate to Movember, even just a fiver, it would really help.

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