To raise awareness of men’s mental health, 111 Quality and Assurance Officer Robbie Read shares his experience.
Robbie has struggled with his mental health since a young age but when the pandemic hit in 2020, it became too much and he knew something had to change. He said, “I’ve struggled with my mental health since I can remember. A difficult childhood meant that I’ve been carrying depression, anxiety and some compulsive behaviours right into adulthood. As a teenager, I selfharmed and started making plans for suicide.”
Robbie’s school noticed the signs and he started therapy. He said, “I eventually started counselling at school and was fortunate in that this was helpful for me for at that time. But I felt ashamed and soon discontinued the counselling. Back then, I had little to no understanding of mental health. I just thought that these feelings would eventually go, or they were just a normal part of growing up, not understanding the impact that trauma had on children and young people.”
Robbie continued to struggle with anxiety, feeling low and the occasional thoughts of self-harm and suicide as he reached adulthood. He felt ashamed of these thoughts so buried them. But when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Robbie’s mental health struggled more than ever. He told us, “When the pandemic hit, my family and I, like countless others, were deeply impacted by separation, fear and sadly, the deaths of several loved ones. Having just started working for team NWAS, with the impact the pandemic had on the service and us as individuals, as well as the stresses in my own personal life, I felt as if I had hit rock bottom. Near the end of 2020, I took some time off work due to my worsening mental health. I felt very guilty for taking time off work during such a decisive time for the service and the world, but was grateful to be back in therapy, receiving help from family, friends, my GP and from work.”
After some time, Robbie was able to come back to the job he loves. He said: “I’m fortunate that all these levels of support helped me to recover and come back to work. I can now say that I rarely suffer from my mental health now. I still have my off days and moments, but speaking up and seeking help has really helped me to recover and move forward with my life.”
Another one of the coping mechanisms Robbie feels has greatly aided his recovery is his love of walking. He told us, “Something that really helped me was getting out in nature. I’m an avid hill walker and have spent a lot of time climbing the UK mountains. Getting out on the mountains has really helped to improve my physical and mental well-being.”
If you are struggling, you can contact Samaritans on 116 123 or seek advice from your GP.
Robbie’s story is taken for our Your Call magazine.