Mick Cash, general secretary of the RMT union, will be speaking at Rail Wellbeing Live on 5 November about his sudden and debilitating ‘meltdown’ that forced him to take time off work.
Mick has given his support to Rail Wellbeing Live – a new virtual, free wellbeing event on 4 and 5 November designed to improve mental health for everyone across the rail industry. For the first time he has publicly told the story of what happened to him in an interview with John Halsall, chair of the Rail Wellbeing Alliance and managing director of Network Rail’s Southern region.
In the interview, Mick, who is now back in his role as general secretary, explains a phone call triggered his ‘meltdown’ on 19 June, and he was quickly placed under the care of his local NHS crisis team for the next two months.
An excerpt from Mick Cash’s interview can be seen below. The full interview will be broadcast from 16:00 on 5 November as part of the closing session for Rail Wellbeing Live. Register here so you can watch it in full.
He said: “When I had what I call my meltdown, that’s a euphemism, it was actually pretty serious, but it was clear to me afterwards that actually it had been going on for a period of time. A particular cause, a phone call, turned me into having that meltdown and being in a pretty wretched place.”
Mick said a combination of factors led to his illness, including work pressure and the national lockdown, following the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said: “I was in a place where I got used to all the stresses and strains, and the job I have is very stressful and constant … when people spoke to me I used to say I was fine, when I wasn’t fine. Lockdown didn’t help and working from home. Simple things like walking to the station, getting the bus, things that allow you to breakout of the place you are in. When I was in work I’d walk round and talk to people … that helps and those things being absent didn’t help.”
Mick said three things the crisis team did was make sure was sleeping properly, eating properly and making time for himself. He added: “A doctor said, you’ve got to learn to be kind to yourself. They started to help me … with strategies to not get into that place again.”
Welcoming an increasing focus on wellbeing in the industry, he said: “The fact we are now talking about health and wellbeing and welfare, rather just health and safety is a crucial change … the important thing about this event is to create a climate where it is ok to be unwell. It is an illness. It is curable.”
Asked about a piece of advice for anyone going through a difficult time, he said: “Prevention is better than cure, when you’re feeling down, talk to someone.”