Now I’m not going to pretend to be an expert here. But I’ve been through some pretty dark times and I’ve been witness to many struggles, as a manager, colleague and friend. I’m not here to bum anyone out or lower the tone; but to spread some awareness and maybe some good advice for the estimated 7000 British seasonaires struggling with mental health and for their friends and families.
There are hundreds of things that might trigger mental health issues in an individual and unfortunately a lot of them can be found in the day-to-day life of a seasonaire. Lots of booze, long working hours, high stress jobs (in some cases), lack of sleep, the occasional recreational drug, homesickness etc.
If you find yourself out on a season, or at home for that matter, and start to feel depressed or anxious the first thing to do is to talk to someone. This is sometimes the hardest thing to do but often the most helpful. When on season it’s often hard to talk about ‘real’ things with your friends; a lot of time you may have only known them for a month or two. It’s worth knowing that nearly all management in large tour operators have some sort of basic mental health training and are also provided with a helpline to support staff who are struggling.
Don’t forget to pick up the phone and call mum (she misses you by the way), family, siblings or friends from home. With 4g, WiFi and video calling it’s easier than ever to get hold of your loved ones at home for a quick catch up or heart to heart and it can make the world of difference. When I first started seasons you’d be lucky to log on to the internet once a week in a crowded bar (or steal the limited guest wifi)
From a personal point of view there were two things that affected me more than anything. The first was alcohol. We all know how easy it is to pop to the bar on your way home from work for a quick pint or two. Then have a few at home with the room mates. Then pre-drinks. Then a night out. Even if you have an early morning ‘it’s alright, we’ll just go for one or two’. It all adds up, and all that drinking can take a serious toll on your brain.
When you’re drunk, you don’t sleep properly (and itespecially doesn’t count if you pass out on the bathroom floor). And this will take its toll too.
The second thing that hit me hard was the old Mary Jane. It’s no secret that the smell of weed is like a permanent perfume on half the park rats on the slopes, or the beachies pulling boats. All’s well and good (if you keep it quiet). But for some, too many tokes on the funky cigarettes can have long term impacts on the mind.
What worked for me (in the end, after several years of pretending nothing was wrong), was taking a little break from the endless drinking, late nights and (other things). Not permanently, just the odd week here and there to let your body and brain recover.
We could talk for hours about mental health. And if anyone wants to, feel free to reach out to myself directly or the through GSN contact form as we’d be happy to have a natter or find you the help you need. But in the meantime there are two final pieces of advice that might change your season.
‘We are not all in the same boat.
We are in the same storm.
Some have yachts,
some have canoes,
and some are drowning.
Just be kind and help where you can’
Take time for yourself. Seasons are an intense experience. Living with a bunch of strangers, working with big groups of people, endless nights out and constant influx of guests. We could go for days with the only time by yourself being when you’re dropping the kids at the pool (not in the literal sense, Nannys). Set aside a few hours a week where you can go for a walk, sit on the beach, chill on your bed and not have any other interactions. Organize your thoughts and think things through; it might make the world of difference. This should be time to think, so doing a sport doesn’t count; although sport can help in other ways.
And lastly, if you or someone you know is really struggling; there are professionals that operate though zoom appointments. They are experienced mental health professionals, there to help and they are amazing. If you need some pointers or recommendations, let us know.
With all that in mind, there are obviously loads of current issues that could be affecting you or your friend’s mental health. Talk to each other, ask your friends how they are. Take every day as it comes.
Enjoy your seasons!