Depression – I wish my workplace had been trained to support mental health

I wish my workplace had been trained to support
mental health Michelle, August 14, 2019 I wish I could give 2018 me a look into this
year. I feel like a completely different person, and my whole attitude towards mental health
has completely changed. A year ago I was stuck in a job I couldn’t
stand. My mental health was in ruins. And I could barely get out of the door. Every
day I would sit in my local coffee shop and question whether I had the strength to get
through the day. There came a time when I couldn’t sit at my desk for longer than
a few hours without gasping for air in fear of what was to come. I opened up about my mental health to my boss,
and sadly this was where the situation got much worse. I was constantly belittled, told
my mental health was having a negative impact on the team, and that I couldn’t work flexibly
in case I was seen to be receiving special treatment, even though my office had a flexible
working policy. When I was off sick, I was sent emails of
a bullying nature, and on the day I was diagnosed with depression, I was told I was making my
boss’s job harder. At a time when I was finding it hard to see the bigger picture
because I was stuck in the black hole of depression, I took this incredibly seriously and it made
my condition much worse. I didn’t receive the help I deserved at
work, until I eventually, after months of comments on my mental health, I made a formal
complaint of harassment and bullying. Had my boss, and my workplace, had training into
supporting someone with a mental health problem, I might still be there. I will never forget the fear of going to work
for what my boss would say to me that day, or the feeling of not wanting to wake up the
next morning. To feel like I’d gone from someone thriving
in my career to being told I was failing to make a contribution, was shattering. I eventually
got an apology, and my boss soon left the company. I finally got the help I needed to help me
move on from the experience, and I developed the tools I needed to manage my condition
at work. I’d be deluded if I said the depression was gone. It hasn’t and there are days when
I feel the dark cloud coming over me, and I feel suffocated by my own thoughts. But
I’ve learned to accept them, and deal with each day as it comes. I can now look back on my negative experience
at work as a learning. It forced me to grow up and accept my condition rather than fear
it, and to take the confidence in knowing what was best for me and standing up for myself
and what support I needed. In coming out of the hardest year of my life, and through my
mental health diagnosis, I have learnt what true resilience is. I wish my work had been given the support
they needed to support me. Both me and my boss gave up our careers at an incredible
job because neither of us knew how to cope at the time. Education and training are key.
We all deserve to feel safe at work. When we feel weak, we need the support of
our workplace to give us the flexibility we need to be well as well as productive. Without
an understanding of mental health at work, stories like mine will continue to be the
norm. A recent survey of the charity sector uncovered
some uneasy reading about bullying and mental health at work. Whilst this made me realise
I’m not alone, it also made me realise just how important it is to speak openly about
mental health and how we are feeling. We must all continue to call out the injustices people
with mental health conditions face at work if we are to make real change for future generations. Nobody should be belittled into thinking their
condition is a burden because their manager doesn’t have the experience or training
to support you. All mental health conditions are difficult
for you and the people around you, but with the right tools, and the right help, you can
have a career. We’ve a long way to go. But there is hope.
I didn’t feel it then, but I certainly feel it now. It really is time to change

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