GMA’s Geoff Webb talks about his health issues

Mental health issues can creep up on you says Geoff Webb, CEO of the Grounds Management Association (GMA) who has spoken openly of the challenges that he faced during the past two years.

In an honest and thought-provoking conversation with Chris Biddle for the Inside Agri-Turf podcast, recorded on World Mental Health Day, Geoff talks about the background to his deteriorating state of mind and subsequent heart attack. 

He describes how the GMA had to return ‘a six-figure sum’ when the pandemic caused the cancellation of the 2020 SALTEX exhibition, the last minute decision about the 2021 event and the responsibilities of transforming the services offered by the Association in order to protect its revenues.

“I didn’t realise how the cumulative build-up of pressure, mainly as a result of the pandemic, was having on me,” he says. “Others could see it, but not me.” That resulted in some disturbing episodes, including almost going walkabout on a busy road and a brush with an Ocado lorry “with a giant grapefruit on the side which would not have looked good on a description of my demise," says Geoff!

Geoff’s message is that anyone starting to feel they are struggling to stay in control should immediately seek help and advice. “Mental issues have been stigmatised in the past, but no longer. In the GMA, we take our members wellbeing very seriously,” he says, adding, “I can now have open and constructive conversations with those who think they make have mental as well as physical health issues including many leading figures in the turfcare industry. But we are not experts, nobody should dismiss seeking help from the Samaritans or from specialists in our industry such as Perennial.”

Geoff was off-work for around four months, the medics believing that stress contributed to the early on-set of his heart attack. “Such events do allow you to re-assess your work  /life balance,” he says, “particularly in the turbulent times we are currently experiencing."

LISTEN to Geoff Webb on mental welfare.

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