How the mental health of our colleagues is respected and cared for at Tesco
7 October 2016
Our marketer Symon shares his mental health journey ahead of World Mental Health Awareness Day, to inspire others to learn from his experiences.
I’ve dealt with depression and anxiety since I was about 14 years old. It’s something that’s fairly cyclical – some months I’m fine and others are a struggle. I’ve been able to manage and control it throughout my life.
Eventually my depression got to a level where I couldn’t manage it anymore. I became de-motivated, lacked energy, enthusiasm and became withdrawn. Some days I’d barely speak to anyone and found it hard to balance my workload. I stopped caring about my role and let deadlines pass by without meeting them. I would often call in sick as the thought of coming into work and pretending everything was OK was too much to deal with.
I saw my doctor and we decided I should be signed off work for two weeks, so I could receive medical support. When I came back to work, I felt as though I had a lot to prove, but I also started to feel like a different person. My colleagues were supportive and friendly and now I’m confident, happy and doing well at work.
The invisibility of depression
Depression and anxiety are difficult things to manage. In my experience it’s like a black cloud that constantly follows you around. Others often find it difficult to understand because it’s invisible to the outside world. If you’re going through it, remember that things will get better. It takes a lot of effort, but you have to just focus on the things in your life that keep you going and use that to spur you on. No matter how bad life gets, there’s always someone who cares about you and focusing on that will pull you through.
Tesco and colleague mental health
I’m so proud to work for a company that takes mental health seriously. In May 2016 Tesco signed a pledge, committing to help end mental health stigma and promote mental well-being. Time to Change is England's biggest programme to challenge mental health stigma and discrimination. It's led by the charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness. We’ve teamed up with MIND to organise a UK wide collection on Saturday 8 and Sunday 9 October 2016 in support of World Mental Health Day. The collection will include many colleague volunteers in over 250 stores across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
How to get help with depression
As someone who knows a thing or two about depression, if you’re experiencing mental health problems, please try and talk to someone. Communication is the best way of reaching out – it’s one of the five ways to wellbeing. Open and honest conversations will help others to understand what you’re experiencing. It could prevent your situation from getting to a point where it’s no longer manageable. It doesn’t mean we’re weak and it doesn’t mean we’re different. It just means we need some support, and that’s nothing we should be ashamed of.