The Power of Storytelling with Richard Martin

Meyler Campbell & Peppermint Fish
13th May 2019



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The Power of Storytelling with Richard Martin

This episode features a conversation with Richard Martin, author of "This Too Will Pass: Anxiety in a Professional World". 

About Richard Martin

This episode features an honest and frank conversation with Richard Martin. Richard is the author of the book, “This Too Will Pass - Anxiety in a Professional World” published in November 2018. His passion is to reduce the stigma around mental illness and improve the conversation about mental health.

With special thanks to Debbie Aurelius, Peppermint Fish.

 

Richard’s current sense of purpose

01:55 Richard describes the nature of his current work to promote better awareness of mental illness and capability to deal with mental health issues at work, through training and coaching.

04:00 A sense of purpose is one of the clear differences in Richard’s current work, compared to his occupation prior to his illness. He’s aware that many people lose the sense of purpose that originally inspired their work choices and he describes the importance of the purpose he derives from his work now.

04:55 Richard describes the diary notes he started to capture at the beginning of his illness. At the time he wanted to “write things that couldn’t be said elsewhere”, but quickly realised that he could derive value from these notes later on. His main motivation for writing his book was the power of storytelling and the recognition of how much people can benefit from hearing other people’s stories.

The warning signs of mental ill health

07:38 Looking back to the build up to his illness, Richard describes how he was feeling and the warning signs that started to build up to the point he realised he needed help. He resisted confronting his illness at the start because of the stigma surrounding mental health at the time.

10:28 Once consequence of his experience is that Richard would like to encourage other people to be more aware of the need to notice their own mental health and identify when they may need help too.

The power of storytelling and peer support

12:08 Richard was hospitalised in the Priory. He recounts that experience and talks about the support he found through his dialogue with other people seeking treatment in the hospital. He became aware that everyone is on a spectrum of mental health and suffering mental ill health in the face of life’s challenges is perfectly normal.

The process of recovery and returning to working life

15:02 Returning to life after hospital was challenging; Richard describes the lengthy recovery process that enabled him to gradually return to work.

18:20 He tells us about his early days with Byrne Dean and the supportive environment there that enabled him to return to full time work. He explains that the changes he’s experienced have created a shift in his values and a sense of dislocation from his previous working life.

How storytelling helps

21:43 Storytelling is helpful to Richard in his work in many ways. He tells us how a storytelling approach helps in training, particularly for allowing open conversation about personal experiences. He describes the process of creating space for people to stop and talk to each other about how they are feeling.

23:55 Richard describes the steps he takes to create psychological safety to enable open discussion in his training sessions.

Breaking the stigma and encouraging discussion about mental health in the workplace

25:00 Gradually, there is more acceptance of discussion about mental health in the workplace. Richard recalls some conversations he’s facilitated that have enabled senior colleagues to share their own experiences with mental ill health.

27:20 Richard talks about the origins of the This is Me campaign, an initiative that aims to share personal experiences of mental ill health through video stories, in workplaces. The aim of the campaign is to use storytelling to break the stigma of talking about mental health and improve understanding.

32:00 Recalling a story Richard heard, he describes how literally walking in the shoes of an employee helped a boss to understand the impact of dealing with stigma and anxiety on a day to day basis.

Writing to reassure others

33:55 Publishing his book, ‘This Too Will Pass’ has enabled Richard to share his story and reassure other people who may experience similar things that they are not alone and not unusual. He describes the response he’s received from his readers as a humbling and encouraging experience.

Advice for coaches

35:58 Richard shares some excellent advice for coaches who may be worried about how to deal with conversations about mental health. He talks about the importance of being informed enough to be unafraid of allowing anyone to surface their concerns and tell their story. He stresses that coaches should not feel under pressure to know how to ‘solve’ these types of problems - just enabling the conversation can be enough. One doesn’t have to be an expert to be supportive.

 

Further information

This Too Will Pass: Anxiety in a Professional World

Mental Health Foundation

 

 

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