**TW: This blog covers the topic of mental health and may be triggered to anyone struggling. If you need help, please contact the Samaritans on 116123
“Just because no one else can heal or do your inner work for you doesn’t mean you can, should, or need to do it alone.” – Lisa Olivera
This is my first blog for Hatch. I cannot count the number of times I have attempted to begin blogs online through the years. November is officially men’s mental health month, a month where men are encouraged to reach out, share their feelings and ask for help. It’s a time when all companies, brands and charities are pushing men to be brave and speak out, so I wanted to do just that.
So, hello, I’m Dan and I work in the production department at Hatch. I write, direct, edit, plan, and shoot video content for all our clients and, along with the team, make things look pretty for a living.
Despite painting positivity onto all the work that I produce, I struggle sometimes to apply this work ethic on to my own personal mindset. This is because at the age of 18 I was diagnosed with depression, anxiety, and mild PTSD.
Taking myself firmly out of my comfort zone, I’m going to discuss what it’s like working within a busy agency whilst living with various mental health conditions and how best to deal with it all when things may become too much.
Six years ago, I left university after doing Film and Television Production and managed to get a job within the industry within a month of leaving – great. Career wise I was on the way to working hard, getting contacts, and working my way up the ladder.
However, I had this overshadowing black cloud of a dirty secret, my mental illness:
“Oh my god, I have just left university, I have this great position and prospect, what if they think I cannot cope with the job? What if they think I am not capable? What if they think I am a liability?”
So, I did what most young people would do in this position. I hid. On reflection, was this a good idea? Absolutely not. Lo and behold the inevitable happened, I became too wrapped up in my own panic and paranoia that I made myself incapable of doing simple tasks through fear of being found out.
I worried more about keeping it hidden, which made my mental health worse, which caused me to be in a position where I HAD to tell them about it. Thus, making it far more of a bigger deal than it ever needed to be in the beginning.
I bit the bullet; I opened up and just like that problem solved, things began to fall into place. Work was great and they gave me extra support, extra chats, cups of teas and catch ups, whatever I needed to make work that bit more achievable they were more than happy to oblige.
Now, I cannot sit here and say every single workplace will be the same. I was lucky that this turned out that way, but the moral is, you have to eventually be open to discussing your mental health.
However, I must stress, do it on your terms and on your own individual timeframe.
“Your mental health is everything – prioritize it. Make the time like your life depends on it, because it does.” — Mel Robbins
Fast forward to Hatch…
I’m now 10 years into my diagnosis, and I am pretty much my own mental health expert.
I know my triggers, I know my weaknesses, I can spot the signs, I have done more bouts of therapy and counselling sessions than I count, and I know what works for me.
Entering Hatch was a daunting yet exciting experience. Up to 40 employees is a big jump from 5 or 6 (on a busy day). Would I fit in? How would I manage my Black Dog days in an open social office with more people? Would they like me? Would they understand it? Have they time to deal with me?
The answer to all of these was simple. Day one, I told them, and they understood. Not only that, but they embraced me. We have Hatch staff trained up in mental health awareness and the wellbeing of all staff are a priority.
When the bad times happen and the Black Dog looms, you need a break, you need a minute, you want to scream, you want to hide, you need to talk, you need to run, whatever it may be, you need to make sure that whatever it is you do works for you and that those around you can support whatever it is you need.
Letting people know what you need rather than sitting and suffering quietly at your desk, carrying that massive burden on your mind and shoulders is not healthy, it is suffocating. Telling someone at work helps you unwrap that tight coil around your chest and helps you to breathe a sigh of relief. You are all on the same team, and nobody wants you to fail.
If you would have told me 10 years ago when I was confused, ashamed and still beginning to understand my afflictions that I would be as open and understanding of myself as I am today, I would not have believed you. And a lot of that confidence to be open has been built from the workplace accepting me for who I am.
Yes, it will take a lot of internal hard work on your own self-care but inviting others to help you on that journey does not make you weak, it shares the load and gives you time to build yourself even stronger. Men’s mental health awareness month is so important, especially in a workplace.
We do not know what happens behind closed doors and we do not know what anybody is going through in their own minds. But learning to spot the signs and acting on a gut instinct can change a person’s entire mindset instantly.
I will not do the usual practice and share the statistics of suicide rates within men, the amounts of cases because we are all aware it is higher than it should ever be. We need to make it stop and we need to do all that we can to help those around us to know that they are part of our team and that they are never alone.
If you’re worried about your co-worker, speak to someone in the office who is trained to help them. Are they your friend in the workplace? Invite them for a coffee at lunch and ask how they are.
Little moments can make a big difference.
Here are some links to some useful resources which may help either yourself or someone you work with:
Here are some helplines also:
- NHS – Call 111
- Shout Crisis Helpline – Text 85258
- Samaritans – Call 116 123
Stay safe everyone and keep going.