Men's Health Awareness Month - Bonus Q&A with Catherine Logie
November is Men’s Health Awareness Month.
In our 4-part series highlighting Sophia Bullard, Crew Health Programme Director for the UK P&I Club, has been interviewing some men across the maritime industry in a short Q&A session on the subject of wellbeing. However, this week’s bonus Q&A session tackles the subject of wellbeing from a woman’s perspective.
Our fifth interviewee is Catherine Logie, Direct to Consumer Services Director at Ocean Technologies Group.
1. Short background/career history
I have worked in the maritime sector for 25 years in the area of maritime learning and assessment. I provide individuals with digital access to learning to help develop their careers and helping employers to train and retain global talent.
Within Ocean Technologies Group, we develop a range of learning resources for seafarers globally, specifically aimed at mental health. In a sector that traditionally focuses on technical knowledge and skills, we saw a need to provide clear, practical guidance about people skills and wellbeing so seafarers could try to take care of their own and other people's health while working in challenging conditions away from home for months.
Previously, I headed up the Marlins business, specialising in Maritime English. Before I joined the maritime industry, I worked abroad as a teacher trainer of English Language in Italy and Indonesia.
2. What does Men's Health Awareness Month mean to you?
An awareness month can help focus attention, but this needs to be an ongoing conversation about all aspects of mental health, for everyone.
Young men seem particularly vulnerable, and I believe we have a collective responsibility to notice, ask, be available and know how to help. The rate of suicide is increasing in the general population and among seafarers. It’s very hard to talk about suicide but we shouldn’t be afraid to try.
3. In your opinion, what do you think is the most common misconception about men's health and wellbeing?
For centuries, societies have valued men who are physically and mentally strong, rational but unemotional. These qualities persist in shipping but as society changes, values in shipping are slowly shifting away from ‘leaders who control’ to ‘teams who collaborate’.
Values in the workplace now include diversity, authenticity, respect and problem solving. People are encouraged to listen and empathise with others more. Leadership comes from understanding and encouraging others – qualities which also support positive mental health.
Pressure is lifted when men open up more and the benefits are immense – not only for the individual but also for their families, colleagues and communities.
4. Do you think the stigma surrounding men's mental health has improved over the last five years? What more can be done?
That probably depends which country you live in. Talking openly about mental health is deeply affected by culture and is fine in some places but less accepted in others. Seafarers and maritime professionals come from many different countries, faiths and cultures so people can have very different experiences of and reactions to mental health matters. Seafarers in multicultural crews also need a shared language for social interaction to maintain good mental health. We literally need to learn and practise using the words, phrases and communication skills for talking about health until it becomes normal.
I have observed some generational changes in the UK; pupils, students and young people seem far more ‘literate’ about mental health than older adults. I think it can be very hard for post-war generations to talk about how they feel, as suppressed grief and trauma can run down generations. Those feelings can ‘leak out’ in the form of violence, addiction or mental health issues if left to build up. Being ‘strong’ and suffering in silence is eventually going to consume you. I think that it’s sometimes necessary to work with trained professionals to gain perspective and treatment – there should be no stigma around seeking support.
It also makes a big difference when celebrities in sport show that it is OK for men to talk about their mental health as part of overall health and performance.
There are also many community groups where men can meet for activities, talk and listen to each other.
5. Do you have any coping strategies to improve your own health?
I try to get outdoors. My go-to is walking in the countryside amongst nature. Even just seeing trees from a window whilst working can help me relax. Also getting daylight – that is especially important in the dark winter months in the north!
I also enjoy hugging my children, talking to close friends and practising gratitude.
6. What would you like to change about your own health in the future?
I would love to be fitter. I prefer to make small, sustainable changes that make me feel good rather than aiming for an unrealistic goal. Having a family, elderly relatives to care for and full time working keeps me busy, so I need to make more time for exercise.
7. How do you unwind?
Long walks. Also, good coffee with newspapers and the radio – ideally in the sunshine, watching films with my family or by having a meal with friends.
8. Tell me about the last thing that made you smile/laugh?
My kids’ and husband’s non-stop banter – I love how kids find humour in nearly everything. They were very amused when my husband told our son “Go and do your revision”. (“Go and do Eurovision” was not the instruction.)
To learn how we can take action, and for more resources on Men's Health and prostate cancer, visit the Movember webpage.