My thirties were a tough time.
A long-term relationship ended. A pile of stuff from my childhood that I’d been avoiding for years couldn’t be avoided any longer. I struggled to cope with managing my life day to day; I racked up thousands in debt, including (and as I write this it seems hard to believe) 4 grand in unpaid parking fines. I self-medicated through food and alcohol. I developed chronic back pain. I found it difficult to sleep, and when I did, I would experience night terrors.
I thought I was going mad.
At a very low point I finally understood that I needed help. I learned that I was depressed by reading a newspaper article about depression that gave a list of symptoms. I had nearly all of them!
I was lucky; I had parents who supported me, and I found a therapist I came to trust and love. He helped me see I wasn’t mad.
How much of this huge mental turmoil was I able to speak about to my then employer? None of it. I was fired in the end as I wasn’t coping in work either. Now I don’t blame them; it just wasn’t done to speak of mental illness or mental health issues which were hugely stigmatised. It seemed like there was no language to express these feelings.
Attitudes to mental health are changing. I’d like to think that someone in the same situation as me now would be able to talk with their employer about their mental health but there’s still more change needed; because of my own experience I am determined to do my bit to destigmatise mental health.
At AVC Immedia we recognise our team members as unique individuals who will have highs and lows in life as we all do. We support our colleagues in difficult times – and how difficult they have been in the last few years! – and offer workplace mental health support through www.plummhealth.com.
I’m writing this in support of World Mental Health Day on 10 October, the theme of which is “make mental health and wellbeing for all a global priority”.
I would like to confirm my commitment to putting mental health on an equal footing to physical health in our workplace.
Written by Ross Penney, CEO at AVC Immedia.