In support of Mental Health Awareness week, three of our colleagues tell us about their own mental health stories and how the help and advice available through the Wellbeing programme at Hastings Direct has supported their journeys.
What challenges do you face with your mental health?
I had a number of difficulties last spring which have continued to be a challenge for me. It began with stress and depression, resulting in two large panic attacks which led to severe struggles with anxiety. To date my struggles with anxiety have subsided but I’m still being treated for depression through medication.
How has Hastings supported with your mental health?
My leader at the time was fantastic at facilitating my return, he even met with me in my home town while I was signed off. He helped set up my phased return and helped me slowly and steadily build up my hours and duties throughout the summer of 2018 to make sure that I wasn’t overwhelmed at any point and sent right back to square one.
How were you diagnosed with your mental health challenge?
In early 2014 I was aware for several months of a general feeling of things being “not quite right” which developed into frequent panic attacks, which then led to agoraphobia and unfortunately deteriorated to the point where I ended up being signed off work for eight months.
It can be hard to open up about your mental health. What advice would you give to others who are seeking help?
The biggest mistake I made was not opening up sooner when I knew something was wrong. I would encourage anybody to speak up rather than get to the point that I did. There are different options you can choose as your first point of contact depending on who you feel more comfortable with -your line leader, HR or a Mental Health First Aider. You can be assured that Hastings takes a progressive stance on mental health and you will be treated with empathy and discretion.
I’ve had depression on and off for many years, and I continue to manage with these challenges. For me, I get anxiety even now, and the worst time for me is first thing in a morning. My anxiety, if it goes unchecked, can lead to me going into depression, so I use it as a good measure to feel where I am every day.
I’ve had a couple of leaders since being back at Hastings, (this is my third time back since I started in 1997), so it shows it’s a very progressive business) and they’ve done everything possible to help support me. It can be difficult for leaders to understand mental health if they themselves have not been through it, and this is where I think Wellbeing has really helped. If you’re a leader of any sort I would encourage you to really take up what Wellbeing has to offer, it will be great for you and your team. Long may this continue!
At Hastings we aim to do the right thing for our colleague and their wellbeing is a big part of this. We want to make sure our colleagues have the right advice, education and support available so they are healthier, happier and stronger inside and outside of the workplace.
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