We had a departmental meeting which was first time every team member was present in a long time. We discussed all relevant business. Then there was a part for other business. Some guys were speaking about how they felt about things. I thought this was a good opportunity to speak about champions training with everyone.
I had already spoken to my line manager. He was great, he gave me time off to train so I didn’t have to do it in the holidays.
He wanted me to write a report for the company magazine. I initially wasn’t too keen on getting it out there until I had done more training. But I decided the department meeting was good opportunity to speak about it.
I told them about champions training, but I didn’t say about my own personal things. Some people thought I had been off a lot as I was going for another job.
I told them ‘I want to let everyone know I have a new job,’ There faces were great. Then I told them I have been doing training for a few months for a Community Champion role at See Me. They didn’t know what it was so I explained, they were all really interested.
I told them about training, but I didn’t say about my own personal things. The industry is stereo-typically pretty manly, so it’s what you would expect, lots of humour and joking.
The response from everyone was great, no one judged me. I was worried about the reaction as I am a fun, outgoing guy and always the first to take the mick. But it was good to let them all know that they can come and approach me and ask for any advice.
I was overwhelmed by the reaction I got, people were applauding. A lot of them said it was a brilliant thing to do, it was great but I actually felt quite embarrassed.
But there was one fella that never applauded, he was always a bit troublesome and argumentative.
After the meeting a few of us went in to have a coffee, he was one of them. One boy said ‘well done Des’. Then the other guy said he didn’t understand why it was a big issue and wanted to know some stats.
I said that one in four people will experience a mental health problem. He said that must mean that one of us in this room suffers, but he doesn’t know anyone who does.
He asked if I knew anyone who had experienced mental health problems, and I said yes. He said, ‘go on tell me who’. I said ‘me’.
He went quiet and looked as if to say ‘I shouldn’t have said that’. I said it was fine. He asked why I had mental health problems? I said I have had them since I was eight, that’s 31 years.
I said I had PTSD, he was shocked. Then another guy popped up and said he had anxiety problems and his son is unwell. I didn’t know that, he hadn’t said it before.
We started explaining that there was more people than he was aware of, that people would be unwell but cover it up.
I believe that everyone who has a mental health problem can cover it up if they want to. I have worked with this guy for 5 years and he never knew, so I must be good at covering it up. He didn’t know anything. He congratulated me for what I was doing. His attitude changed in that conversation, he challenged me on what I was doing and I was glad because the barrier was broken. He can now come to me and speak about it if he wants.
I got loads of texts and phone calls later, people know they can approach me and speak about these things now. I have had one of the boys speak to me since about his problems.
I feel a lot better for telling everyone, although I was nervous about speaking out. I’d quite like to go to sports clubs now and deliver some education and awareness.Back to stories