So, it was approaching the first anniversary. It just wasn't a thing. You just don't talk about it. It was quite a small company, so we didn't have HR or anything at that stage. Yeah, for quite a while I kinda kept it to myself. I didn't really talk about it. If it was affecting me personally, I'd just take a sick day. Yeah, and then I remember I took a sick day on the first anniversary so I could be with family, came back and then just slowly started talking about it with other people. And then, yeah, a few months later we had Shannon, our HR Manager start. And yeah, from the get go it was kind of... I mean, if I'm gonna open up to anyone, I guess it's gonna be HR and I spoke to her and told her what was going on. And she was appalled there was no procedures in place for something like this because it touches everyone.
People need to feel supported and I didn't feel supported at all. So yeah, once I spoke to her, we had meetings with the supervisors and how I can tell them if I'm having a bad day or, it's okay to be open about it. I think a lot of the time people think that mental illness is just something you've got to move past, but it's a real illness. If you're having a bad day or you feel anxious, keeping it to yourself is not gonna help anyone. It might help you, it's not gonna help the company, it's not gonna help your colleagues. It's, yeah, something you really need to be open about.
People underestimate how hard it can be for someone who is trying to support someone going through it, because no one knows what to say. There's no guidebook to helping someone who's dealing with something like this. They can go through 50,000 emotions in one day just be there in wings.
You don't need a particular program to be implemented. The very first step is just making your staff feel comfortable, and make it a conversation. You don't have to surround it with anything. Just check in. If you're worried about someone, maybe sit down with them and say, "Hey, are you okay?" it's not that hard. It's not that hard. The good stuff will follow. You feel supported in the workplace, you'll do a lot better work. And once I got to a point I did really well, I progressed and moved forward in my career and... yeah, Shannon was incredibly... she was the catalyst for all that. And yeah, the difference in my work was... everyone saw it.