Talking about mental health isn’t always easy. Tyler Marshall, from Bupa UK’s insurance team, was inspired to share his personal experience with his colleagues this week as part of Mental Health Awareness Week to raise awareness and encourage others to do the same. Here, he shares his personal struggles and journey.
"We've come a long way in the past few years in shifting stigmas surrounding mental health – but there is still much more to be done. We need to ensure we are opening a dialogue about mental health in all areas of life – including and particularly at work. That's why, this Mental Health Awareness Week, I want to share my journey with battling mental health in the workplace.
I'm quite apprehensive and scared about doing this, two in five men avoid talking about their mental health issues both in and out of work due to the stigma that still surrounds it. And as someone who has suffered various mental health issues, from personality disorders to eating disorders over the past nine years, I want to talk about my recent journey with Bupa.
Starting full-time employment in January 2018 became very exhausting and something I hugely struggled with. At first, I was scared to openly discuss this with anyone and I feared the long-term impact it could potentially have, which caused a lot of fear and anxiety and prevented me from coming into work. Anxiety is a feeling of worry, fear, nervousness or unease about something. Employers and managers should understand what can cause anxiety and what signs may indicate a team member is experiencing anxiety, or any other mental illness problems.
Bupa is a place of feedback, be it positive or negative, and at first the slightest bit of feedback, which I would always deem negative, would destroy me. Since being at Bupa, I have had access to undergoing CBT and Psychotherapy for both my PTSD and Borderline Personality Disorder, which has helped my journey into recovery and maintaining positive mental wellbeing in the workplace. But one thing that has really helped is the support of my managers and colleagues.
My manager has been the biggest and most positive impact on my wellbeing. She noticed a lot of my behaviours and when I would start to slip in work, or if my frame of mind changed, she would make sure she sat down with me to try to understand what was going on. So, after multiple discussions we agreed we would have weekly catch ups to openly discuss where I'm at, not only in the workplace but also in my personal life and how I'm doing. This changed everything for me. I didn't feel like I was being judged or seen as a negative in the office for being unwell and she always went out of her way to make sure I was doing my best and if I wasn't, what we could change to get me back into a better place.
My absences have decreased drastically, and I look forward to coming into work because I feel supported and loved, and my life has changed for the better due to this. I'm no longer fearing the next day or being apprehensive about coming into work and being judged for not being in the right frame of mind. In fact, Bupa has become a place I enjoy working. I've felt understood, heard and supported and I couldn't ask for anything more from an employer and for that I am forever thankful. I wouldn't have had access to the treatment I needed without Bupa and the time and dedication my managers put into understanding me and helping me develop. I am thankful for the access to the support needed but also the attention and care I received from my current manger and my previous managers to support my development.
Mental health in the workplace is scary and feels like a burden. But keeping it to yourself is only going to make your relationship with work negative. I wouldn't be where I am today without the support of everyone at Bupa and I want to thank all my colleagues who have helped me get to this point in recovery that seemed impossible for so long."