My experience of tackling mental health issues at work: Amanda’s story

Today we’re hearing from a member of the Connect Assist team, Amanda Kimmins.

Last year, Amanda found herself struggling at work and in her home life with mental health issues and depression, but with the support of her management team and a confidential helpline she is now in a much happier and healthier place.

She wanted to share her personal experience so that other people facing similar challenges know how and where to get help when they need it.

“Experiencing mental health issues isn’t something I ever thought I would face, but last year, I began to feel incredibly low.

There were days where I struggled to get out of bed or eat, and I lost two stone in three months. On some of my worst days, I also experienced suicidal thoughts.

When I was 18 I was the victim of a knife attack and have since been coming to terms with my injuries and remaining scars, which left me feeling very low with no self esteem.

Continuing with your day-to-day life when you’re suffering with mental health issues is hard and knowing where to turn can be even harder. For many people, including myself, the idea of sharing how you feel with anyone can be a daunting prospect.

Seeing other people living normal lives and enjoying loving relationships became really difficult for me, and I found myself unable to deal with some of the more challenging calls at work as I was struggling with my own issues.

I found myself needing time off work continuously, yet I was still unable to come to terms with the fact that I needed help and support. It wasn’t until my team leader at Connect Assist, Rachel Birtles, asked me what was wrong and offered her support that I finally felt able to share how I was feeling.

This was an incredibly important step towards me tackling the issues I was experiencing.

Rachel’s support was invaluable to me, and I don’t know if I would have been able to face my issues head on without her. She helped me make an emergency doctors appointment where I was diagnosed with depression and offered medication to help me get better. I was also referred to a mental health team for ongoing support.

Throughout the process, both my team leader Rachel, and our contact centre manager Rachel Overland, were constantly available offering their support and always making time to catch up with me to check how things were going.

I also used the employee assistance programme offered by Connect Assist to help me on days where I was struggling – having access to a free and confidential 24/7 helpline has been vital for my recovery.

Due to the sensitive nature of the calls we deal with at Connect Assist, sometimes it can be hard to make sure these don’t get the better of you or make you emotional. But having people regularly checking in with me really helped me to make sure I was staying on track.

One year on, I’m in a much healthier place both mentally and physically, and this I evident both at work and in my personal life. I have achieved a promotion, and I now enjoy travelling and going to the gym – two things I didn’t have the confidence to do previously. I even reached out to Steel Warriors, a charity fighting against knife crime to start a conversation about my own story. I’ve struggled with my appearance for years after the attack, but after the support I received I feel confident enough to share my experience and show that you can live with scars and still feel beautiful.

I remain in regular contact with the management team and know that I always have somewhere to turn if I need some additional support.

I still feel incredibly supported by the team here at Connect Assist, and I don’t know where I would be if they hadn’t been there for me when I needed them most.

The fantastic support I have received in my workplace makes me feel incredibly lucky, but I want to make sure I do all I can to ensure others can experience the same thing.

While sharing my personal experience has been difficult, I know how important it is that my colleagues are aware of the abundance of confidential support and encouragement that is available throughout the organisation.

I’d like to offer my thanks to the whole team for being there when I needed them most, and I hope that anyone else going through what I went through has the courage to seek help themselves.

Whether you are starting a new job, staying in work, or returning to work after a period of mental ill-health, adjusting can be difficult and daunting. 

However, there is a wealth of information and support throughout Connect Assist available to help make this easier and manageable. For any of my colleagues who are going through a difficult time I would encourage them to take the first step and speak to someone.”

If you are an employee of Connect Assist and would like free confidential advice or support, contact the employee assistance programme on 0800 1116 387 or speak to a member of the team.

2 thoughts on “My experience of tackling mental health issues at work: Amanda’s story

  1. Great blog – I understand some of what you are experiencing as I still live with PTSD after leaving the Army in early 1990’s. I am taking medication and if I did not get the job with TRBL then I may have had to go to a treatment centre for 6 weeks. Working for TRBL has made me cope better with my PTSD and although not cured, is making living with it easier.

  2. This is a very honest and moving story from Amanda for which I highly respect her. I would bet good money that there is not a single person in the world who has not faced difficult times in their life, a number of which who have suffered in similar ways, myself included – it’s helpful to remember that you are not alone, you will get through it.

    It is extremely important to me, as a director of Connect Assist, that as well as supporting individuals through the services that we provide, that we also care for each other as colleagues and continue to build upon the supportive environment that we have developed here at Connect Assist.

    As Amanda ends, I would highly encourage anyone who is struggling to speak to a colleague, member of management (direct or not) and to utilise your EAP service – we are here to support you.

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Case Study

NHS Plus - Health 4 Work Adviceline

Since August 2012 we have delivered the free Health for Work Adviceline which is funded by the Department of Work and Pensions. The service provides small businesses with the expert advice and support they need to help team members experiencing ill health and other occupational health issues. The Health for Work Adviceline had a requirement to cut costs, develop a sustainable funding model whilst delivering a high quality service to those who often feel unable to obtain professional occupational health advice due to the smaller size of their business.


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