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, Paul Litten, ABP Head of Commercial, Wales and Short Sea Ports, shares his story.
Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do at ABP? Have you been here for long?
My name is Paul Litten, I am the head of commercial for Wales & Short Sea Ports and have been with ABP since June 2016, almost 7 ½ years. I am 56 years of age, live in East Yorkshire with my wife Nicola, and have two adult children from a previous marriage, Miles & Tiggy.
What does mental health mean to you?
I think I should start by saying that mental health was historically regarded by me and other men of a similar age as ‘a problem that affected others..’ However, by the general growth in public awareness and the great work done by ABP to raise this issue, I also now realise that ‘others’ also means me.
Managing my own mental health is very important, both for my own wellbeing, but also the affect that it has on others, family, friends and work colleagues. I am blessed by having a wife who is happy to listen to me, as I am to her, and by being open and sharing challenges that affect us all from time to time. The loss of a family member or friend, pressures of work, health, both mental and physical and the issues that we all face in this very busy world.
Taking time to discuss problems and challenges is vital. I am also pleased that I have close colleagues in my working environment who I can speak to if things become challenging.
Being open, I have suffered from a long covid issue for the last 3 years and it has, at times, become very challenging physically and mentally draining. But the support I have been given from the business and from my team, SLT and colleagues across the regions has been tremendous. I will always be grateful.
Do you have any tips or tricks of what to do if you are having a bad day?
The ability to get up from my desk, virtual meeting, meeting or call and go for a walk, make a cup of tea and, on occasion, shout in my back garden! Thankfully the latter doesn’t happen very often, but it is important to allow yourself a break, go for a walk, or turn on the radio, tv etc. I have started breathing exercises which work well and would recommend this as a way of reducing stress and engaging in some form of mindfulness.
What do you like doing with your spare time outside work?
I am pleased to say that I share a lot of interests with my wife and close friends; this includes entertaining, theatre, cinema, reading, concerts, travel and skiing. I am an avid reader of contemporary history. There is a lot of whisky and wine in some of this relaxing as well, but only for medicinal purposes! I also find doing the ironing, washing cars or polishing shoes a great way of detaching my brain from ABP related work challenges, not that I am keen to do anyone else’s you understand!
What do you like doing in your lunch breaks?
I tend to sit and listen to radio 4 and / or read some online newspapers such as the Telegraph or Financial Times (not everyone’s idea of light reading, but I enjoy it!) As the weather turns, not easy to go for a walk, but when working from home, sit in the garden, close my eyes and enjoy some sun.
What’s the funniest thing you’ve heard recently (obviously safe to share at work)?
A laugh out loud moment took place recently with friends as we attended an October Fest event locally. All of us dressing in appropriate Bavarian costume, lederhosen to be clear, with matching hats was hysterically funny, well for us in any event.