What does mental health mean to you?
Jess: It’s quite a big issue for me, personably. From the age of about 19 to mid 20’s I suffered from depression and then now (chuckles) in my mid-thirties I suffer from severe anxiety, to the point of panic attacks in the middle of the night. Just day-to-day things I could just suddenly fall down to the floor and have a panic attack for no apparent reason. So it’s a big issue for me and family.
Why do you think WMHD is so important?
Jess: People need to be made aware of it because you see it all on the tv and people are doing this ‘don’t bottle it up, talk about it’, but it’s still a really big taboo subject, nobody wants to talk about it. And everybody just bottles things up or just hides things, covers it up and it just blows up in your face and makes the whole thing 10 times worse. People do need to talk about it, everybody does!
As you’ve just answered, why is it so important to talk about mental health?
Jess: You need to talk ’cause just bottling it up one day you just pop and you lose it!
It ends up affecting you physically, doesn’t it?
Jess: Yeah, yeah! You just physically can’t sleep, or you sleep too much, overeat, under-eat, it just affects so many different things in your life.
Are/ have you been involved in any mental health charities or events?
Jess: No…well! Having that tattoo, that was for Somewhere House in Burnham – all the proceeds from the tattoos went to Somewhere House in Burnham which is for mental health.
So the tattoo is of the Mental Health green ribbon – what made you decide to have that done?
Jess: It was because the proceeds went to charity and I wanted something for me – not for anybody else, it’s just for me – so every time I look at it, I think ‘if I’ve got a problem, I’ve got to go and talk about it’. It just prompts me- and then people ask me ‘ooh what’s that for?’, and then I’ll tell them. It doesn’t bother me in the slightest – people know what’s going on in people’s lives.
So it’s a good little reminder for you, but also you can tell them and it’s a little reminder to them as well?
Jess: Yeah, exactly.
Have you found any positive outcomes from being aware that you have mental health?
Jess: (Thinks about it…) You think you are the only one dealing with that sort of thing, and when you talk to other people you suddenly realise you’re not the only person going through it, you’re not the only person that has problems. And just talking – even to your doctor! – he’ll turn around and he’ll say to you, ‘I struggle as well’. So it just shows that there is other people going through the same thing, similar things, and have gotten through it. You can get through it!
And you also feel less alone when you talk to people
Jess: Yeah, you feel less isolated. You know that if you want to talk to somebody, they know what’s going on – so you can just go and sit and say ‘Do you know what? I have a really cr** day, and I just want to sit here and cry’. Or ‘I just want to sit here and do ‘whatever” and you know who your friends are, you know who you can rely on for support.
Have you found that work has been really supportive?
Jess: Yes. I had a bit of a meltdown recently, and Sue (HR) saved me. She gave me a hug, sent me home and made sure that I was ok and gave me some time off to take a step back, chill and get back to my normal self.
Finally, were there any words that you would have for anybody struggling with their mental health?
Jess: Just talk about it. Anybody, talk bout it – family…don’t be scared to talk about it, because everybody, in their life, is gonna have some sort of problem. It doesn’t matter if you’re the strongest person in this world, you are going to have a problem at some point – it’s going to affect you, do you have to just talk about it. And seek help if you need help, ask for it.
A big thank you to Jess for opening up and being so honest about her own mental health (not an easy feat!), we are so proud of her. We love having her as part of our team, and we will continue to support her, and any other team members, that need a helping hand to lift themselves up.