Will Castle on mental health & the real estate industry
If you have ever worked in a sales environment, you might appreciate that historically skills like empathy, compassion and kindness weren’t readily encouraged. For the 20 years I’ve worked as a Real Estate Agent, mental health has never really been a talking point. Instead, resilience is probably one of the key determinants of success.
If there’s one positive thing to come out of the last 12 months, it’s the conversations around mental health. More so at home or amongst friends, but increasingly in the workplace too.
Will Castle is someone who I have known for over a decade, both as a friend and in a professional capacity. We first met just after he tragically lost his father to suicide.
To commemorate the anniversary of his death, Will chose to tell his story of those events and how they affected him. In the process of doing so he raised over £16,000 for Movember, a leading men's mental health charity.
I feel that Will’s story contextualises perfectly the progress of the past ten years, but also how much work still needs to be done. He's shown incredible bravery and I admire not only his honesty, but also his willingness to let his experience make a difference to other people’s lives.
I was 22 when my Dad took his own life. I had recently graduated from University and started work. I was just a kid, pushed into adulthood overnight. I was so busy trying to sort out the mess around my Dad’s bankruptcy, I feel like I never really had time to properly process what happened. I was just on autopilot, moving from one task to the next without taking any time to reflect on how I was feeling. The funeral was on Sunday, and I went back to work on Monday, because I thought that was what you were supposed to do.
I can’t remember anyone taking the time out to check how I actually was, maybe that’s because I gave the impression that I was fine, but I definitely wasn’t. I didn’t know it at the time, but I needed support and because mental health wasn’t on the agenda at all, I didn’t know where to turn.
Luckily my boss at the time noticed that I was struggling and not only did he recommend someone who could help, he paid for it too. I am forever grateful for that.
Incredibly, despite what I’d been through I’d never thought much about mental health. If I’m totally honest I’m not sure I believed in it.
I only recently discovered the work that Movember does to support men with mental health issues. It being the ten year anniversary of my Dad’s death I decided to grow a moustache (much to my wife’s horror), put my story out there and try to raise as much money as possible.
It started with one social media post - “My Dad took his own life and here I am to tell the story”. I never realised it would have such a profound impact on others but I think people related to my experience and they thought, “that could be me one day”.
The number of messages of support I received was unbelievable, I was so touched. It inspired me to raise as much money as I possibly could.
Now that more men are talking about mental health, I hope that some of the stigma will start to dissolve.
Although it is on the agenda, I feel that so many men are still ashamed to admit that they aren't ok. We all have our moments, but I believe that we’re frightened to show any signs of vulnerability for fear of being labelled weak, because that’s the nature of the industry we work in.
Support is now so easily accessible with so many options, it's all about people now taking the first step and actually using what is on offer. The change has started to happen, but it’s only when industry leaders - those who are well respected and in the public eye - start to come forward and admit that they struggle at times, that the rest will follow.
Things I’ve been paying attention to, watching or reading this week
In 1977 Sylvester Stallone sat down with Barry Norman to discuss how he had to convince studio executives to let him star in ‘Rocky’ - a film he had written. The lesson of persistence is a hard one to ignore.
If you’re free this Saturday night at 6:45pm (everyone), have a static bike/ turbo trainer (seemingly everyone) Norwood (who are a charity very close to my heart) are hosting a 100 minute spin master class. It’s £25 and you can register here.