PoP Vlog 23 – Mental Health Awareness

PoP Vlog 23 – Mental Health Awareness


Mental health is dealing with everyday stress. Mental illness is going through depression. Mental health is about balancing work and
life. Mental health is suffering from Post-Traumatic
Stress Disorder. Mental illness is suffering from anxiety. Mental health and illnesses are so many different
things. Welcome to vlog 23! This month, we’re actually going to be talking
about mental health and illnesses, and it’s a super sensitive subject, but it’s equally
super important to talk about. It’s actually Mental Health Awareness Week
this week, so this vlog is very timely. Before we get to the amazing stories that
are shared in this vlog, you know what time it is, let’s cue that intro music. This vlog is going to be longer than usual
and I’m so sorry about that, but it’s because I didn’t want to cut off any of
our colleagues who are sharing their stories, because it’s their stories and they deserve
to share their stories in an unedited format. The theme for the Mental Health Awareness
Week this week is around Body Image—it’s how we look at ourselves when we look in the
mirror, it’s how we feel about ourselves. And the most common mental health and illnesses
are around things like anxiety, depression, OCD, and PTSD. And we’re all at different parts of our
journey, we are all struggling with it in different ways and I think that, you know,
it’s OK to feel like that, it’s OK not to be ready to talk about those things. In this vlog, we have people who are there
in their journey and want to share their story with us, whether it’s through a video format
or whether it’s a blog. Any way possible that I could get these stories
from you across the world, I wanted to take that opportunity. Mental health and illness is all around us,
for some of us, it’s very visible and you can see it, for lots of us, it’s not. It’s something we’re dealing with internally. In October 2018, I took part in a mental bandwidth
conversation, actually organized by Pearson Able. And I talked a little bit about things that
happened to me in my past and how that affected my anxiety and my work/life balance. And I’m going to pop in a little clip from
that video. Everything changed for me at high school. When I was in middle school, it didn’t really
matter what you looked like and how you did you hair, because you were kids, you were
playing with your friends. You went to high school and all of a sudden,
those things mattered and I didn’t fit the mold, whatever the mold was in high school. It meant that I was bullied for four years. So, there was a lot of emotional abuse and
then it, here we go, and then it transitioned into physical abuse, so there was lots of
pushing into lockers and throwing things at me in class. So, I thought I somewhat dealt with that,
clearly not, but somewhat dealt with that. And the name calling kind of stuck, because
when someone says to you often enough, “you’re so ugly” or “you’re so fat” those
things stick and it’s really hard to forget about those things so you start to overcompensate. And you want to be something more, so you
end up doing more, you try and be something more, something different than what you are
because you want to be anything but that person that’s being picked on. I started working at Pearson when I was 21. I was working in Assessment and during that
time as a subject coordinator, I did things that a subject leader would do, or a QDAM
(Qualification Delivery and Award Manager) would do, because I wanted to prove that I
could do more than just be a subject coordinator. And I think that’s when it started for me,
that kind of doing more and taking things more on. Whenever there was a learning opportunity,
I was the first one to put my hand up, because it meant that people would know who I am and
they would know my name and they would like my work and they would like what I do. That sense of being valued, it was so important
to me, to the point where I burned myself to the ground. I’m so much better than I was, I’m a huge
work in progress and, you know, I can go backwards, I think we all can. But I know my triggers now a little bit better,
I know what happens in my head when I’m getting into my old self and I know what to do to
bring myself back up again. And I think to get to that stage, you know,
that’s the most important thing for me is to understand where I can control what I can
control. If you’re interested in watching that video
in full, I do have a version of it on Neo and on YouTube. I’ll pop a link down to it in the video
description below. Before we head on over to our colleagues,
I want to take a moment to say thank you. Thank you for being brave and sharing your
story. Sharing your story isn’t an easy one, especially
when you know this vlog is going to be available to everyone at Pearson and folks who have
yet to join Pearson because it does go on our Pearson YouTube channel. It’s really humbling to know that you have
taken the time to tell me something and to share something with all of us that you’re
struggling with. Because you have no idea how important that
is to people to know that they’re not alone and you sharing your story helps them understand
that they, too, are going through something and they can see the light at the end of the
tunnel. It’s not all dark days and things are going
to get better, so thank you for sharing your stories. I also want to take a moment to thank everyone
who I did reach out to and they politely declined. Because they’re not ready and that’s OK. Thank you for taking the time to let me know
that you’re not quite there yet. But I also want to give a shout out to you
guys, because you are brave, and you are going through something extremely important and
I wish you all the best with your journey. Now, let’s cue to the amazing people that
you’re ready to hear from, our colleagues. My story today is around anxiety and the fact
that I think I’ve lived with anxiety for pretty much as long as I can remember. How have I managed anxiety? It’s taken awhile for me to do that. And I think I’ve always been one to exercise
and be active, and I’ve certainly, without even realizing, that’s been really important
way for me to stay well. Particularly when anxiety gets into my head
and takes over and affects my day, affects my well-being, happiness, and my work and
how effective I am at my work. The other thing is mindfulness and meditation. I started doing it about six years ago, really
has helped me to actually put that extra layer and foundation around my well-being, so that
has absolutely been a turning point for me to be calmer, be more joyful and not be so
reactive when things don’t go right and they do at times, not go right. The other thing is, again and in particular
with this beautiful theme that we have is that it’s OK to talk about not being OK. Your friends, colleagues and family will generally
notice when something’s not right, as you do to others and, you know, just being there
to listen and just to be a comfort is really all that’s necessary. And sometimes we just need to be pointed in
the right direction to get help. My mental health story, where to start with
that? My mind straightaway goes to 2008, the year
that was pretty difficult. And I ended up taking antidepressants and
seeking counselling for some time. Something that I know was actually ultimately
good for me and helped me process some things and made me stronger and better. But actually, it’s a moment in that year
that really sticks with me and that was the moment I felt brave enough to tell someone
about it. I went to a guy, he was my boss’s boss,
running the company that I worked for at the time. He looked to me like he had it all and I blurted
it out to him and told him. What was amazing was his response, he was
so caring and compassionate, he told me that he had struggled with things and told me that
he was currently seeking a bit of counselling to help him and he had done that in the past. And it just made me realize that I wasn’t
alone. I think men in particular, I hate to make
this about men and women, I know both men and women struggle with mental health in different
ways, but men in particular tend to bottle it up and I was definitely doing that at the
time. And the best thing I did was stop doing that
and start talking about it. So, if you are struggling with mental health,
find someone you can talk to. You might not feel like there’s anyone,
but I guarantee you that there’s people around. Find someone and talk to them, because I promise
you, you’ll feel better afterwards. For the past five years or so, I’ve struggled
with anxiety and depression on and off. It’s been quite a complicated journey of
ups and downs and probably the area of my life that my mental health has impacted the
most is at work. Purely because it’s an environment where
a lot of the time we feel like we have to maintain an air of professionalism, we have
to bury our personal feelings and, you know, wear a mask at work. And the biggest breakthrough that I made in
my mental health journey was accepting that it was time to talk. By which I mean it was time to speak up to
my bosses, to my colleagues, to my friends at work and tell them what I was going through. And recognizing that mental health issues
are as important to your well-being and to your outlook on life as physical health issues,
and we should not have any kind of discrimination between the two. I found that when I spoke to people at work,
it was a revelation to me. How understanding people were, how happy to
help so many of my colleagues were, and it was the real turning point in my journey. And that’s something I’ve really taken forward
with me, is the idea of promoting both myself and others in my workplace as people who are
happy to listen and happy to talk. I’m a mental health first aider now, I’ve
run World Mental Health Day events over the past few years. And I’m a really proud advocate of speaking
out, breaking the taboos, and talking, because that is the first step to improving mental
health. While I was not new to counselling, I had
some experiences in my younger years, I started my working relationship with my current counselor
about five years ago and I originally sought support for grief counselling. And so, continued working with Jordan through
the years and she has seen me through so much and it’s moved way beyond grief support,
it’s really just support in every kind of way. We talk through things and talk therapy has
really, really worked for me. There’s lots of kinds of therapy, it can
work for lots of other people. I will say that I know there is a lot of stigma
with mental health and so I’m not shy to talk about my journey, nor am I shy to kind of
be a champion of mental health and in and of itself. I kind of always say it’s just like working
out for your brain. There doesn’t need to be something wrong
with you to go and, in fact, it’s something incredibly loving and giving you can give
to yourself. With that being said, I will say the biggest
tip I have learned is the idea of “temporary.” I really learned myself and my triggers, but
I’ve also really learned that those overwhelming feelings of anxiety, fear, grief, whatever,
are temporary, the reaction to it is temporary. So, I kind of just put a timer on things and
tell myself it will be all right and that gets me through my day. And I would not be at all where I am today
if it weren’t for the help that I’ve sought. So, thank you to my counselor, you know who
you are. And please, everyone, if you need help, reach
out. I just wanted to talk a little bit about how
I came to do what I do today through my own kind of journey around anxiety. Going back about six or so years ago, I used
to get anxiety quite badly, I used to have some quite horrible bouts of it. And it was actually my GP (General Practitioner)
who’d first said about getting the mindfulness book, Finding Peace in a Frantic World. And I did that for a while and I had some
success, but it was only when I managed to get on and actually do a mindfulness course,
I did the eight-week mindfulness course at the Oxford Mindfulness Center. And that really, bit by bit, I started to
notice very, very subtle changes. In fact the majority of the changes were actually
spotted by my friends and colleagues, rather than me. I wasn’t convinced it was working to start
off with, but little by little I saw myself as being calmer, less emotionally reactive,
I was sleeping better, and I just had a better sense of well-being. And I think that by doing something like that
really, really helped me with my, with, I suppose what was really a long-term problem
for me. The anxiety could be really, really invasive
at times, it could really take over, it could really get a grip. Also, when anxiety hits it can also really
distort reality and I kind of think by making that change, by doing mindfulness and by keeping
practicing it now, one thing I’ve realized is that anxiety is probably something that
I’ll have for life, but it’s about how I can manage it. And by doing my mindfulness practice daily,
I find that I’m way better at dealing with it and I feel, I think, my levels of happiness
and contentment have gone up as a result of doing that. And I think that’s very much what brought
me to do the mindfulness that I do today in Pearson in the hope that I can help other
people who’ve also had anxiety, but also had low mood and suffer from stress. So, that’s just a little bit about my background,
as we, you know, become more aware of our, kind of, our own mental health and well-being. Thank you so much to our colleagues for sharing
their stories, I think you’re really brave and for those of you who are watching this,
if there is something that you need help with, don’t be afraid to ask for help. In the description below I have shared a blog
post that’s been written by Kate, please do take a moment to have a read and share
some words of encouragement to her in the comments section. So how can Pearson support you? We have a whole host of resources there for
you. I’ve included the ones that I know about
in the description below, but if you’re based somewhere out there in the world of
Pearson and have a useful number that can be helpful to someone, please do comment and
let us know, so that I can add it to the description. Each one of us are so unique, we all have
a mix of our strengths and our weaknesses. Embrace all of those, including your weaknesses,
because it makes us who we are. If you liked this vlog, you know how it works,
please do share with your social networks. I will include a link down to the LinkedIn
version and a Twitter version that you can retweet as well, so please do share with your
networks and just keep spreading the message of joy and positivity. A little reminder about Ask Pearson, I have
mentioned it in my vlogs before, if you have a question about absolutely anything, please
head on over to our Neo homepage where you will see an Ask Pearson box in the top right
corner. No question is a silly question; we’re here
to help you. I look forward to being back next month with
another vlog topic. Please do check out the Advocates Global Hub
on Neo, it’s where we continue to learn, to grow, to share, and up-skill together. Until next time, bye!

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