Each year, International Men’s Day (19th November) celebrates the positive value men bring to the world, their families and communities. It aims to raise awareness of men’s well-being and the theme for 2023 is “Zero Male Suicide”. In the lead up to the day, at ABP we will be sharing the stories of how male colleagues manage their mental health. In the interview below, Bryn Phillip, ABP Divisional Deputy Harbour Master in East Anglia shares his story.
Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do at ABP? Have you been here for long?
Embarking on a maritime career at the age of 16 as a deck cadet, I visited numerous ports worldwide during my ten years at sea. Following this seafaring chapter, I ventured ashore to start my own raw dog food business, 'Raw Paw.' Returning to the Maritime sector, I relocated from the North West to the South East, serving as a Marine Superintendent with Svitzer at the Port of Felixstowe. This journey eventually led me to ABP, where I have been the Divisional Deputy Harbour Master for the East Anglia region for the past eight months.
What does mental health mean to you?
When we think about 'mental health,' it's usually linked to discussions about difficulties or conditions. Reframing it as something everyone experiences helps reduce stigma and discrimination. This way, we're more likely to talk openly, share tips, and improve our mental health and well-being.
Do you have any tips or tricks of what to do if you are having a bad day?
We're all different, but what helps me is understanding why I feel a certain way. Usually, it boils down to something that is in my control. I consciously choose daily habits that will positively impact my mental health. Even though it's not always the easy choice, sticking to these habits pays off in the long run. I see it as making short-term sacrifices for a better overall mental well-being.
For instance, I wake up early before work and go to the gym every day. Doing it first thing sets a positive tone for my day and avoids life getting in the way and the temptation of excuses. If I'm not feeling my best I can usually trace it back to a lack of structure, routine, consistency, or accountability.
What do you like doing with your spare time outside work?
Going to the gym on weekday mornings is really important for me and sets me up for the rest of the day. I love my F1, and this year I competed in a monthly go-karting Championship in Bury St Edmonds at Red Lodge Karting. I also play 7- aside each week, and support Preston North End, which ironically means that each weekend I’m putting my emotions into the hands of 11 men! Recently, and more importantly, I've been devoting all my time to my 11-month-old daughter, who is the absolute best… yes, I might be biased.
What do you like doing in your lunch breaks?
I think it’s important, especially for mental health, to take an active break from the work screen. Physically moving away from the workspace creates a clearer boundary between work and rest.