Mental Health Awareness Week 2019
Michael Chapplow,: “The reasons that I wanted
to become a Time to Change Champion was because I suffer with a lot of anxiety and depression
myself, and I wanted to use them experiences to help other people. I also wanted to come
at it from a point of view of not being management myself, because a lot of people can find it
daunting speaking to their manager or their supervisor, because they feel as though they’re
not good enough to do the job, and they’d be judged. I would encourage anybody, everybody
to find out who their Time to Change Champion is, you can do this by looking on the intranet.
My experiences with mental health is that I’ve always lacked confidence since I was
a child. So, I’ve always struggled with it and it’s never been dealt with. And,
as a result of that, in my adult life I now struggle a lot with anxiety and depression.
I get depressed really easy, which makes us struggle with my concentration levels at work,
which means I’m unable to do a lot of simple tasks. If somebody gives us work to do that
I’ve done 100 times, I struggle with being able to do it because my mind tells us I’m
not good enough to do it, or that I’m going to make a mistake, or I’m going to do it
wrong. I get agitated and grumpy quite a bit, which means I take it out on people like my
family, even though nobody has done anything wrong.
I’ve received a lot of support from Durham County Council. Such as, my supervisors have
been a great support, in the sense that they’ve been able to use the Mental Health Toolkit
to see what the big issues at work was, implement strategies to help us overcome them issues,
or remove them issues if it’s not something I can overcome.
My supervisors have also been able to signpost us onto Occupational Health, or the Employee
Assistance Programme, which I did, and that was like a 40-minute phone call, which led
us to do Counselling Through Mind, which is a service that works closely with the council
but isn’t directly part of the council. I also have a lot of colleagues that I work
with who are really intuitive, and because they know us well, they’re able to see if
I’m feeling down, and I think the most important thing is that they’ve got the ability, without
being intrusive, to ask us if I’m ok, and sort of dig a little deeper if I say no and
ask us what’s the matter, and I think’s that’s really important for all of us to
do as a way of helping people overcome their own issues and mental health.
Other techniques that have helped us deal with my mental health is, I’ve just mentioned
mind. That’s face to face counselling which I went to over a 3-month period through one
on one sessions with a counsellor. That was really good, because the councillor allowed
me to see things from a different point of view and stop me thinking so negatively. I
also did mindfulness, a lot of the mindfulness was related to breathing exercises, and things
that would take your mind off everyday stresses. A lot of them exercises help me. There was
quite a few that I found a bit difficult to get on board with, but quite a few of them
I still use on a daily basis now. I like to go for a walk, or go for a drive, because
a lot of the time that takes my mind off everyday stresses. I’ve got to focus on the walk,
or I’ve got to focus on where I’m driving to. Also, with walking you can think about
the things that is worrying you, but you can sort of make them better in your mind and
come to more rational decisions about what’s worrying you. I also like to exercise, such
as going to the gym, this helps to alleviate a lot of the stress and tension that I’ve
felt during the day. I also like to talk to others, and I think one of the biggest things
all of us can do, is talk to others about our mental health, and if they give information
back to you, it makes you realise that you’re not the only person struggling with this kind
of issue and that can really help. I also take medication for my anxiety which there
is a lot of stigma around the medication, sometimes, and me included, people feel worried
about taking it, because people are going to ask questions. But, it’s no different
than taking a paracetamol for your headaches, you’ve just got to take the medication and
if people ask, just be open and honest and say what it is.
The things you can do to make a difference to improve your own and other people’s mental
health is, just to be more honest and open about the way you feel. That will help other
people open up about the way they feel. You can also be more approachable when you walk
past somebody in a corridor, smile at them, you could say hello, ask how their doing.
If you hold the door open for somebody, smile at them while you do it, and if somebody holds
the door open for you, say thank you and smile back. You can become a Time to Change Champion,
which I’ve mentioned earlier as something that I am to help others. All of these things
is a great way of helping somebody who feels down, it makes a real difference from personal
experience. I know, that when somebody smiles at you or just says hello, it can really improve
your mood, even if it’s just for a small amount of time. That can lead on to bigger
things for the rest of the day, and just have a more all-round general positive day.