15th May 2023

My story: Mental Health Awareness Week

The importance of mental health cannot be overstated. As one colleague explains, experiencing poor mental health can be an extremely difficult and lonely experience.

A colleague who has suffered from poor mental health twice in his life is sharing his story during Mental Health Awareness Week to encourage others to ask for help and to remove the stigma associated with mental health issues.

Back in the early 90's, he experienced poor mental health for the first time when he worked as a Site Agent for a civils company. The project he was working on was located three hours away from his family home. The pressures of managing the daily running of the site, dealing with the client, residents, material deliveries, subcontractors' requirements and daily record-keeping proved to be too much for him. The long working hours left him with little time to relax and rest.

He found himself lying awake for hours before his alarm, worrying and churning things over in his head. His situation was made worse by the fact that he was too proud to put his hand up and say, "I need some help" in the early stages. All this weighed heavy on his shoulders and as a result, led to numerous suicidal thoughts.

Fortunately, he was able to discuss his situation with his foreman, who advised him to speak to the Managing Director and seek help from his GP. He was prescribed medication and took some holiday leave which helped him in the interim.

However, the anticipation and concerns of going back to work meant more sleep loss, and his mental health deteriorated rapidly again. Eventually, he spoke to his foreman again, who advised him to consult his GP and see about getting some professional help through the BUPA health scheme. 

He was referred to a psychiatrist for an assessment and prior to the appointment his initial thought was “this is embarrassing” as he’d never thought he was someone who needed psychiatric support.  Following the assessment, he received professional help over a period of weeks and eventually got back on track.

Fast forward to more recently when he experienced a similar shift in his mental health once again. He found himself in the middle of a personal home extension facing numerous problems, including the builder leaving the job unfinished, the use of wrong materials on the roof and multiple leaks.

He felt stressed for weeks until he reached breaking point during a meeting with his Project Director. He opened up and broke down in tears, admitting to all of his issues.

Thankfully, he was not left to struggle alone. The company provided him with lots of support including through our Employee Assistance Programme thanks to which he received weekly therapy to work through his issues and get himself back on track. He is enormously grateful of the help he was given and the understanding he was shown during this period.

This story highlights the importance of asking for help when experiencing poor mental health. It also shows how essential it is that we remove the stigma associated with mental health issues, which can stop people from asking for help.

If you are experiencing poor mental health, please reach out to someone.

Remember that mental health issues are not a sign of weakness, and there is no shame in asking for help.

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