Chris North, managing director of Vertical Systems, opens up to TTG about his mental health struggles and urges others to speak out in a mental health-focused Face To Face interview.
As the travel industry continues to face challenges brought by coronavirus, it’s never been more important to talk about mental health.
Those were the words of Chris North, managing director of Vertical Systems, who joined TTG’s Tom Parry today for a mental health-focused Face To Face.
North, who first spoke publicly to TTG about his 10-year struggle with depression in May, revealed that since his article was published he has been approached by colleagues, clients and friends who have opened up to him about their own mental health battles.
He now runs regular coffee mornings with Vertical Systems staff, during which people can talk openly about their own experiences.
Speaking about the impact of coronavirus on the travel industry and the toll it is taking on travel professionals, North said: “With the refunds situation, people in the travel industry are being treated like a punch bag and it will affect their mental health.”
He urged people who are suffering to speak out. “This is an attempt to get people talking about their mental health,” said North. “I was someone who didn’t talk about it for a long time and I wish I’d spoken out earlier. Talking is a therapy in itself.”
North used the analogy of a “shiny car with a broken engine” to talk about an individual who is battling with their mental health. “If the engine is broken, the car won’t work. Your brain and your mental health is that engine]. If you’re not in a good place, you won’t operate and be the best person you can be.”
North revealed that he “was in a very dark place” last year and had even considered committing suicide on numerous occasions.
After opening up to his wife and some of his directors at Vertical Systems, North sought help for his depression by seeing a therapist and taking anti-depressants. “I’ll probably be on anti-depressants for life, and that’s fine,” he said. “The therapy has helped me be the best version of me.”
North also shared some coping techniques he has learned through therapy, such as basing decisions and emotions on “facts and facts alone”, “feeding the positive ego over the negative ego” and making changes to your routine, such as taking regular exercise.
North said he hoped speaking out would encourage others to do the same, and urged travel industry bodies to get behind the issue. To anyone suffering, North offered the following advice: “Don’t feel ashamed to speak out. By talking you’ll realise you’re not alone. We need to eradicate the taboo around mental health.”
To contact Chris’s therapist and access support resources, click here